Being familiar with the past work of Kylesa, I delved into Ultraviolet expecting their typical formula: heavy, stoneresque riffing and trippy, effect-laden guitar work in the vein of contemporaries Baroness and Black Tusk. And after several listens, that is indeed exactly what you get with the new record.

The band themselves describe Ultraviolet as a much darker record in contrast to their previous output and I am inclined to agree to some extent. The songs are a bit more moody, but mostly leave me with a feeling of apathy rather than any real emotion, whereas previous albums had more tangible touches of sadness or rollicking headbang-inducing hesher moments. The exceptions here are tracks “Unspoken” and “Steady Breakdown” which are quite good. “Low Tide” is also remarkably catchy.

The problem I have with this band though is that the vocals generally miss the mark. Singer Laura Pleasants has been compared to Kim Deal a million times, which is accurate. But unless you really like your vocalists to noticeably strain with great effort to stay in key, this might not be for you. Her vocals live in a world of flat and sharp… rarely sounding natural and the result is distracting. Toss in an overabundance of shouting (not screaming, not growling… shouting!) and annoyance is sure to set in. Unlike their peers in Baroness who have gotten progressively better at singing over the course of their career, Kylesa have remained unable (or unwilling) to grow in that department.

Overall, the album is good. Just how good? It will depend on your pain threshold and level of tolerance in regards to the vocal delivery.

Track Listing:

01. Exhale
02. Unspoken
03. Grounded
04. We’re Taking This
05. Long Gone
06. What Does It Take
07. Steady Breakdown
08. Low Tide
09. Vulture’s Landing
10. Quicksand
11. Drifting

Run Time: 38:50
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Check out the song “Vulture’s Landing”