The delicate, almost tasteful indicator to hirsute naturism adorning the cover of the eponymous, sophomore full-length from Brooklyn crushers Blackout (Riding Easy) nods to a polite, MoR-infused Heavy rock; the trio of fresh faces seemingly hiding an element of wounded steel. It comes as a very pleasant surprise, therefore, to find that the sound within is a brain-frazzlingly heavy kaleidoscope which tips its cap toward these very shores.
From the outset the influence of the UK’s Doom and Psychedelic scenes is overtly apparent; the spaced vibe of London mindwarpers Hawkwind wedding with the morose horror of Electric Wizard. Roaring riffs crack open the skull and forcibly widen the mind whilst the low rumbling of Justin Sherrell‘s earth-shaking bass, first noticeable in the title track, exudes the multi-hooved thunder of Odin’s cavalry. Slightly more complex passages of ‘Sprites’ and album opener ‘Lost’ invite Kylesa to the party, with a slightly harsher edge to Christian Gordy‘s roars and screams evoking Phillip Cope’s cavernous utterances and adding to an already powerful intensity.
Gordy’s oscillating clean vocal brings to mind both the devilish haunting of Jus Oborn and the deep, vibrating incantation of The Wounded Kings’ George Birch; a laconic moaning that coats the fuzzed, murky atmosphere in a warm yet nefarious candlelight. Taryn Waldman‘s drums, meanwhile, are slightly suffocated in the mix, surely to shield the listener from the titanic pummel that would damage the ears without such protection. Indeed it’s the colossal convergence of riff and rhythm where this album reaches its apex, as with the pulverising mass opening ‘Cross’ which is both euphoric and oppressive. The track’s leadplay is sparing but perfectly carries ominous melodies with consummate timing and suitability, while its coda’s closing swell is the album’s most expansive and definitive moment.
The phenomenal resonance and weight, best exemplified in the rolling crush, yelping roars and hammer blows of ‘Tannered’ and the sample-littered crush of closer ‘Human’, will prove irresistible to fans of Blackout’s aforementioned peers and proves originality isn’t always a byword for quality. Crunching, unnerving, yet capable of unforeseen subtlety, this is an intriguing and highly enjoyable set.