Kylesa
To Walk A Middle Course


4.5
superb

Review

by Luke M. Jenkins (Confessed) USER (58 Reviews)
January 22nd, 2008 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fantastic sludge metal. Chock full of great riffs, brilliant vocal performances and a generally awesome atmosphere. Kylesa have crafted an accessible album with enough depth to keep you coming back time after time.

Bands tagged as sludge have become a bit of an obsession with me of late. Just the other week, I obtained a rather huge amount of Isis and listened to them incessantly. Then all of a sudden, after a stint of not listening to either band for a long period of time, I rediscovered Mastodon and the almighty Neurosis. Whilst Mastodon are not strictly speaking a sludge metal band (Blood Mountain is more progressive metal than anything else), their earlier work pays testament to a number of legendary sludge acts, such as The Melvins and perhaps even Kyuss. But the most pleasant surprise of them all came in the form of a Kylesa album I downloaded long ago.

To Walk A Middle Course is a truly unique and at times breathtaking experience, combining intricate and unique drumming with great atmospheres and a brutal and varied vocal performance. The complexity of the drumming is in no doubt due to the fact that Kylesa employ the use of two drummers. At first, I thought this to be an overblown and rather stupid idea. But one really does have to listen to the band in order to appreciate just how well this works and what a great idea it was to do such a unique thing. Album opener In Memory begins with ominous and atmospheric sounds before a simple guitar line breaks through. Pained yells in accompaniment with drumbeats soon join the riff and all of a sudden the core of the band's sound is in full force. As the song progresses it is easy to see why they are classified as a sludge band; heavily downtuned guitars, rumbling and droning bass and of course, those ever powerful and brilliant drums. But another thing that separates Kylesa from the crowd is the vocals - both male and female vocals grace your ears throughout To Walk A Middle Course, but you won't find any harmonious female vocals akin to that of Nightwish. Laura Pleasants has a harsh, crust punk style vocal style - it's emotional and it's passionate. And it sounds fucking awesome, to put it bluntly. The male guitarist and bassist also join in on the vocal front - admittedly, their performances are outshone by that of Laura but their deliveries cannot be faulted. Rather than growling or screaming, all the vocals are pretty much yelled or shouted in a very punk fashion. It works really well with the music and at times when all of the vocalists combine (such as on the track Bottom Line), it sounds pretty epic.

The instrumentation on the album is also very good. Guitars churn out some great riffs, alternating between sludgy down tuned rhythms and interesting, atmospheric leads. The odd solo is here too, mostly incoherent and chaotic but nevertheless adding to the overall sound. The bass certainly provides a huge low end, following the guitars for the majority of the album but occasionally stepping out with the odd fill to keep things interesting. As mentioned before, the drumming is another aspect that makes Kylesa so unique and brilliant. Unpredictable rolls and fills are here, there and everywhere and the general rhythm keeping is great. Whilst being primarily a sludge band, Kylesa aren't afraid to step up the tempo to almost thrash-like levels. Subsequently, the drumming keeps up the pace or slows it down whenever needed.

Conclusively, To Walk A Middle Course is one of the most well rounded and accessible sludge albums I've heard in recent times. Everything from the vocal performances to the guitars and rhythm sections has something to offer. And the desolate, cold and harsh atmospheres created by songs such as Welcome Mat To And Abandoned Life and Shatter the Clock are superb for losing yourself in. All in all, if you're thinking of wading your way through the treacle that is sludge metal, Kylesa certainly aren't a bad band to go by. For fans of Isis, Mastodon, The Melvins or Kyuss, it's pretty likely that you'll enjoy this band just as I have.

Recommended Tracks
In Memory
Motion and Presence
Shatter the Clock
Phantoms



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Comments:Add a Comment 
HighandDriving
January 22nd 2008


3288 Comments


Just quickly read it and it looks good.
I'm not a huge fan of sludge but I've enter into its waters before with lukewarm results.
I guess I'll try again, the two drummers and vocal presentation sound interesting.
Nice going.

TheStarclassicTreatment
January 22nd 2008


2910 Comments


Saw these on Rockworld.tv
They're pretty cool from what I can tell.

jimay333
January 22nd 2008


433 Comments


Your review really peaked my curiosity. The whole two drummers thing sounds really cool. I'm a drummer myself and I love Isis, Mastodon and Kyuss. Maybe I should check out The Melvins too.

Wizard
January 22nd 2008


19409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review. The vocals on this album annoyed me (probably because it was a chick). The instrumentation on this album is great.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

pixiesfanyo
January 23rd 2008


1223 Comments


'Time Will Fuse It's Worth' is a great record.

That is what I know.

BattleOfSerenity
February 17th 2008


186 Comments


Sounds gd....
Mmmmm I will ask to listen to it tomorrow.

Confessed2005
February 17th 2008


3314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And I will say no. lol

Eliminator
February 17th 2008


2067 Comments


get rid of that intro

omgwtfboogie
February 17th 2008


211 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The conceptuality of their sound is promising, but the reality is bland. A lot more could have been done with two drummers, I was disappointed. The vocals, as someone else mentioned, are lackluster, and I felt that a few of the songs showed too much influence.

Still fun to listen to, but I don't really see it as superb outside of its genre and in a greater scope of music.

JAV
January 13th 2009


1938 Comments


Time Will Fuse it's worth is much better imo. This one didn't have enough tracks that caught my attention. Still not a bad album though.

KYZAR
February 12th 2009


513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5


i dunno, i love sludge but... This Message Edited On 02.12.09

Wizard
February 12th 2009


19409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is better the second time through.

Wizard
February 12th 2009


19409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, album is sounding way better then when I first gave it a chance. Probably because sludge is one of my favourite sub-genres of metal now.

TrojanWhore
September 11th 2009


752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dug this out a while ago - not as good as I originally thought but solid.

SteelErectedb4you8er
December 30th 2009


2616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shit, I love Kylesa. I am going to add their debut album, I believe it is missing. I think with each album they get better and better. The production always gets better. Those who haven't heard their debut though need to get their hands on it. Also, if you haven't heard Damad, it is Phillip Cope's band before Kylesa became a band. Great sludge!

stabbler
April 15th 2010


1415 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Agree with omgwtfboogie on this one. Also, the measure of any good band is how they perform live, and Kylesa were only average on that front


robin
Emeritus
April 15th 2010


4248 Comments


i love this band, but yeah, this isn't my favourite kylesa.

ratowitz
August 1st 2011


175 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They only used one drummer on this album. Starting with their next album, Time Will Fuse Its Worth, they used two.

Acrosstheshield13
August 1st 2011


791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album by a great band. I like everything these guys have put out so far.

compromisedreality
June 18th 2014


21 Comments


Great shit so far. Maybe I just don't have a good ear for drums but the two combined don't seem to come through as much as I would have thought. Only half way through it though so we'll see.

edit: I guess it is only one drummer on this..

Digging: Dismember - Like an Ever Flowing Stream



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