Up until writing this review, I would have told anyone who asked me if I liked Kylesa that no, I actually love Kylesa. But as I sat listening to their newest album, Exhausting Fire, I realized I’d be wrong to make such a claim. As it turns out I do not love Kylesa—I love Spiral Shadow, their masterpiece two recordings prior to Exhausting Fire. Everything else has merely served as cool album art that occasionally shows up on my music player. There…I said it. A weight has been lifted.
If there’s one thing that Kylesa is masterful at, it’s setting a mood through their music. Exhausting Fire is trancelike: slow, simple, and muddy. Much of the vocals tend to be flat and dead. It’s akin to listening to a piece of depressive art, and I imagine that’s exactly what the band was going for. There are some scattered moments of uplifting melodies and strong rock riffs, but overall the album maintains the same sludgy feeling from start to finish. The exception is the very last track, “Shaping the Southern Sky,” which is upbeat and full of life. It’s a great tune that makes me wonder if Exhausting Fire were full of songs like it, perhaps the sentiments that begin this review would never have materialized.
In the end Exhausting Fire is just not connecting with me enough to become an ingredient in my frequently played collection this year. However, it is unique, and I will not deny the potential I sense for others to absolutely love the album. I, on the other hand, am still perfectly content hanging on to the past. “Tired Climb,” here I come.
Kylesa’s Exhausting Fire gets three exhausted, royalty-free, clip art candles out of five.