The hypnotic, infectious chorus of “Keep moving, don’t look back” from “Don’t Look Back,” might as well be a mantra for Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa, who, on their fifth full-length, have come so far since their beginning that they can hardly be recognized as the same band. Spiral Shadow continues the sonic progression of last year’s Static Tensions, despite a label switch between the two records, with guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope once again in the role as producer, overseeing Kylesa as they move into more melodic, accessible territory.
Followers of the band will note the performance of guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants, who on the above-noted “Don’t Look Back” and elsewhere (“Cheating Synergy,” “Forsaken”) steps even more fully into a leadership role than on the last album. Kylesa’s songwriting is tighter and more structured on Spiral Shadow than it has ever been, and the band is well-suited to the form, both of their two drummers getting some time to shine on the driving “Crowded Road.”
Still, the crowning achievement of Spiral Shadow has to be its 10-plus-minute title cut, which stands out from the surrounding tracks not only because of the difference in length, but also the sheer effectiveness of its build. Kylesa weaves into and out of verses and guitar solos, all the while leading to a culmination of both the individual song and Spiral Shadow as a whole. It’s a turbulent ride, but definitely one worth taking for fans of the band and newcomers alike.
The same could easily be extrapolated to apply to the rest of Spiral Shadow. Kylesa’s maturation seems to be at hand, and they’ve developed into one of metal’s most potent bands. I’m already excited to hear what they do next.
In A Word: Thrilling