I have to admit I'm not really much of a fan of "sludge" metal. Mastodon and Pelican are probably the furthest I'll venture in that direction. To each his own.
I guess "sludge" can be a point of reference for Kylesa, but it's really just a point of departure. In the end, I'm out of my element on this one. All I know is that I really like Static Tensions.
The production on this album is like nothing I've ever heard. It's the ultimate "stereo" experience, due to the use of two drummers, one each on the left and right channels. (That means a joint stereo MP3 rip will NOT do this justice.) It's pretty mind blowing on headphones. The Shiva-like drums drive this thing from start to finish and add a wild taste of the unhinged.
The riffage is Mastodonic for the most part, with meatball grooves that make me think Remission first and foremost. The ballsy, bluesy riffs manage to hold my interest, for the most part, throughout the album. Guitarists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants aren't content to hang with that style exclusively. There are fantastic epic, ambient sections with cool and memorable guitar melodies. Some tremolo picking action at times feels almost blackened. Towards the end of the album, psychedelic passages sound coherent and ring true. My head bangs without conscious thought. Pretty cool.
The vocals are performed by a trifecta of band members, mostly in semi-melodic, hardcore shouts. Laura Pleasants' (female) vocals really make this thing unique. I feel transported back to college jam hours, pondering the finer points of The Lunachicks' repertoire. Her shouts add character to the chaos, while her clean singing sends the ambient parts off into outer space.
Static Tensions melds the familiar with the far out in a very cool way. Maybe this is what real progress sounds like. And not a shred of Cheddar to be found. Did I mention the drums rule?
Kylesa will be on tour with Mastodon in April and May. I'll be there.