Static Tensions is the fourth album from Savannah, Georgia metal mavens Kylesa and it may well be the best damn album the band’s released and one of the finest of 2009, metal or otherwise. With this, Kylesa take the leap into the big leagues by delivering on the promise of previous release Time Will Fuse Its Worth. Listeners are bombarded with a dual drummer attack and razor sharp downtuned riffage that would make bands like Teeth of the Hydra, High On Fire, and Weedeater proud, while managing to be both more psychedelic and more technically proficient sounding than any of them.
Static Tensions begins with one drum track only to be fleshed out with an additional bit of thunder on “Scapegoat.” But the real treasure here is the mammoth riff on second track, “Insomnia For Months.” The whole song clocks in at just above two minutes and Kylesa waste no time wasting the listener with Sabbath style riffage played at Discharge speed. This in itself would not be that noteworthy, many bands have succeeded at the very same thing and in fact the three mentioned in the previous paragraph are all excellent at employing this tactic to varying degrees. Separating Kylesa from the hordes of other doom/sludge bands practicing this particular style is made easier now with the more pronounced vocals of both Laura Pleasants and Phil Cope. There’s far less of the burly growling found on the band’s earlier works, instead Static Tensions favors a slightly more melodic approach that really works. Elsewhere, as on “Unknown Awareness,” the group delivers wandering passages of spacey guitar noodling to maximum effect. These seem designated to bottom the music out so that the next wave of riffage appears far heavier than it had before.
Kylesa deserve recognition for such a great album. The band has been around since 2001 and includes former members of hardcore groups such as Cobra Kai and Damad going back even farther than that. After four albums of some of the heaviest heavy metal thunder that the south has to offer, it’s about time Kylesa got its due. Static Tensions is just the kind of record that may appeal to those outside of the insular world of metal, which may lead to some cries of bullshit by those who have been with Kylesa for a long time. If anything, I welcome more exposure so that the band can continue to crank out great records.It isn’t as if they’re in any danger of stepping on Mastodon’s toes any time soon- even if they are currently making better albums than those Georgia grammy nominees.