With Laura Pleasants and two live drummers, intentional or not, Kylesa truly have their unique selling point established.
All six albums by Kylesa each revolve around a different theme, and new release Exhausting Fire isn’t exempt from this, focusing on the concept of rebuilding. Although the band performs as a five-piece, the recent departure of drummer Eric Hernandez saw them become a trio, and the writing and performing of the dual drum parts fell to drummer Carl McGinley. This adaptation transformed and restored the band to who they are today.
The musical apple doesn’t fall too far from the back catalogue tree with Exhausting Fire. Kylesa stick to their home-brewed brand of lyrically ambiguous sludge metal meets psychedelic rock with touches of Americana, some '80s goth moments, and a hearty smattering of doom.
Vocalist Laura Pleasants consciously chose to record only clean vocals on Exhausting Fire in a departure from her previous contributions. The spine-chilling tone and obvious femininity to her voice inarguably makes for a more mature sound for Kylesa, and simultaneously complements the steeliness of co-vocalist, guitarist, and album producer Phillip Cope.
‘Crusher’ kicks the album off by doing exactly that – crushing – with progressively chunky riffs. The heavily distorted and moody "Inward Debate" follows seamlessly and there’s something almost futuristic about the spacey upbeat "Moving Day". The power and energy in "Lost and Confused" is almost tangible, "Shaping The Southern Sky" is brutally thrashy, and a significant part of "Falling" is reminiscent of a shoegaze throwback. "Night Drive" is anything but peaceful; in fact it’s chaotic and features a tribal drum interval. Oboe makes a stark appearance at the beginning of "Blood Moon", while "Growing Roots" is a sonic rollercoaster and the gushing intensity of "Out of My Mind" is nothing short of thrilling.
The record closes with an ambitious cover of Black Sabbath’s "Paranoid". It would be disastrous to attempt to change the arrangement of such an iconic song, one which arguably beholds the most recognizable heavy metal riff of all time, so instead and in a bid to make it their own; Kylesa slow it down, turn it grainy and have it drowned in sound. For such a popular, recognisable and up-tempo number, Kylesa’s tribute is to warp it so it becomes thoroughly depressing, yet totally enjoyable. No doubt Ozzy and co would be more proud of this little horror.
Exhausting Fire is another genre-defying, artistically diverse and forward-thinking body of work from the Savannah, Georgia trinity, who now have more than proved that they are as resilient as they are respectable.