Compilation albums are always a strange beast usually smacking of contractual obligations, but in this case the highly prolific Kylesa have barely stopped to draw breath in the last decade releasing 5 albums as well as multiple split records so this serves as a timely reminder that the ever experimenting Sludge / Stoner / Punk / Psychedelic / Metal Act have not exactly stood still in terms of their sound since their inception.
‘From The Vaults: Vol 1’ is a collision of new, previously unreleased tracks, b-sides, alternate material, covers and rarities than spans their career thus far. Rather than being chucked together by someone at the record label this has been a labour of love from the band members over the last year who have spent the time compiling and remixing the tracks on offer in order to create a stop gap between 2010’s acclaimed Spirit Shadow and the mouth watering prospect of new music.
As for the music ‘From the Vaults’ showcases the depth and dexterity of Kylesa’s material; from the early Punk/Crust influences with their throaty, shouted belligerence to some of the bands more experimental, ambient psychedelic rock. As an introduction to the Savannah Georgia wrecking crew you could do far worse than pick up a copy to get a feel of what the band are about.
For the more initiated Vol 1 is a little less essential as it contains a couple of tracks reworked from previous releases as well as two covers and two instrumentals. Dealing with the negative first, the opening track ‘Intro’ is largely pointless and the closing track ‘Drum Jam’ may prove the band can develop a serious tribal groove, but in all truth it adds very little to the over all listening experience.
These quibbles aside, ‘From The Vaults’ is actually a very good collection of tunes. It is hard to pin a band of this magnitude down to an easy journalistic pigeon hole as they work through seismic slabs of battering aggression and somehow evolve into more considered prog minded melodies that are as intriguing and spell binding as the early works were pummelling.
Tracks like Inverse and Paranoid Tempo will satisfy anyone with a lust for ferocious punk infused hardcore, fans of early Mastodon will hear kindred spirits and those with the benefit of hindsight will recognise the flashes of guitar tone that would mutate into the hypnotically dense and passionate slow burnings of previous release ‘Spiral Shadow’.
Elsewhere the likes of ‘Drained’ provide huge waves of discordant Doom/Sludge, whilst the introduction of Laura Pleasants’ vocals to tracks like ‘Between Silence’ & ‘Sound II’ add a more considered attack to their arsenal and the multi-layered dual vocals are used to great effect as is the addition of dual drumming in the post 2005 tracks.
The highlight of ‘Vol 1’ has to be the exquisite cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Set The Control For The Heart Of The Sun’ though, having openly acknowledged the influence of the likes of Isis, Neurosis and Pink Floyd as well Black Sabbath, to hear this track re-imagined as a touring menacing wall of drone/doom is a fitting tribute to their heroes and a testament to the imagination of the band.
As a stop gap between albums this is an above average release (not that the band have ever turned out anything average), a timely reminder to those who are familiar with the band and enough novel or ‘new’ material to draw the interest and a perfect answer for those who would ask the question ‘What’s this Kylesa band all about then?’ Given the leaps and bounds the band has made in their career so far Vol 2 should be incredible.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden