KYLESA | Photo by Geoff Johnson


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SPIN'S REVIEW OF "ULTRAVIOLET"

Lately, droves of metal bands seem to be letting go of metal a little, while somehow still getting heavier. Torche, who began life as sludge-metal miscreants employing a "bomb string" for extra terror, went full-on "alt" on last year's Harmonicraft, emblazoning its cover with pink dragons, no less. Meanwhile, those one-time throat-torturers Baroness, whose guitarists were always as rigidly rhythmic as their drummer, transformed into an almost-ready-for-prime-time hard-rock band on the widely celebrated double-dip Yellow and Green. You may remember it as SPIN's favorite metal album of 2012.

And then there's Savannah, Georgia's Kylesa, which began life in 2001 as a coed collective of Accüsed-loving crust-metal outliers, and have dwelled on the fringe ever since. But as the title of their sixth record, Ultraviolet, suggests, they've crossed into a new dimension, dabbling in death rock and flirting with grunge, an evolution forecast on 2006's Time Will Fuse Its Worth, wherein they added a second drummer (Melvins-style!) and expanded their sound. Most recently, they tripped the light fantastical on a messy, metallic cover of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," and got extra psychedelic on their last LP, 2010's Spiral Shadow, which introduced them to a larger (though still very metal-oriented) audience. Still, they retained an audible, angry through-line back to their 2002 self-titled debut.

On Ultraviolet, that line is barely there, enabling a breakthrough in the rawest sense of the word. Had Kylesa kept to the strictly monochromatic sound of their early work, they would have surely faded away by now. But here they sound rejuvenated, and their excursions jive well with their core sound, which now sounds open and malleable. And while there's still an occasional over-reliance on rough-hewn, tried-and-true formulas of shouted gang vocals and over-overdriven guitars, they're heading in the right direction.

At the moment, their metal tendencies still might be too prominent for indie-rock fans (metal fans are traditionally more open to bands getting darker, even if it means less heaviness), butUltraviolet feels like they're building to something. Call this the equivalent to Meddle, which set Pink Floyd on course for the Dark Side of the Moon smash success to come.

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Kylesa - "Unspoken"