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Review: Kylesa – ‘From The Vaults, Vol 1′

A rarities and outtakes collection arrives, feeling more like a proper studio release than anyone intended.

The funniest thing I’ve heard about From The Vaults, Vol 1, Kylesa’s collection of rarities and outtakes, is the statement “Have they been around long enough for a rarities album?” Yes. Kylesa have been stomping through the sludge metal scene for over a decade. They’ve released five studio records, 2009’s Static Tension and 2010’s Spiral Shadow being the best of them, five standard and three split EPs, a double seven-inch, and a batch of singles. This Savannah, Georgia five piece has gathered quite the collection and From The Vaults, Vol 1 showcases some of the best stuff they’ve committed to tape.

Unlike most collections, Kylesa execute this record with a flow that feels more like a studio release. There’s a brief intro, much like in 2006’s Time Will Fuse Its Worth, and then we’re off and running. “Inverse” is dirty sludge lovers dream. Thick with ugly distortion and violent vocals, “Inverse” is the bastard child of genre touchstones like Sleep and Bolt Thrower. It’s a nice way to kick the audio-balls of the listener and make sure they’re paying attention. “111 Degree Heat Index”, an alternate take of “110 Degree Heat Index”, takes the original single and gives it a thicker groove and a few musical twists. It’s not a completely different version of the original track, but it varies enough to be interesting.

Kylesa are at their best when stepping out of their comfort zone, which is why the fast paced post-punk tune “Paranoid Tempo” is one of my favorites. “End Truth” is the only new jam on From The Vaults,and while it plays up Kylesa’s psychedelic edge nicely, it also frames their more melodic work. If “End Truth” is a look at things to come, then the band’s 2013 album should be a mind blower.

“Between Silence And Sound II” and “Wavering” are fruit from the original Kylesa tree. It’s that blend of heavy riffage mixed with dark, textured sludge. From song to song, From The Vaults never feels unloved or thrown together. There is no filler here save for an unnecessary “Drum Jam” at the very end. Badly played bookend aside, Kylesa not only paid attention to giving us a varied collection of songs; they also made sure there was cohesion to everything going on. Few bands execute on this level with their newest material, much less a collection of older work. It speaks volumes on what Kylesa are capable of.

Most of the press From The Vaults has received has been centered on Kylesa’s cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”, which I don’t understand. Sure the cover is good, but not nearly as awesome as their cover of Buzzov’ens’ “Drained”. Kylesa execute both songs with equal talent, but “Drained” has more fire to it, more life. The Pinky Floyd cover lays flat, it’s almost soulless.

From The Vaults, Vol 1 serves as an awesome hold over as Kylesa ready their next studio full length.