Review and photos by Mike Bax

No disrespect to Cult of Luna, Inaeona & Kosmograd, but this evening was all about Kylesa for me. I’m usually pretty open to new music, but due to utterly crappy traffic, I walked into the venue long after Inaeona & Kosmograd had performed. Kylesa was on stage tuning their guitars as I entered, and I thanked the rock deities for at least allowing me to see the entirety of Kylesa’s set before heading back into westbound-plugged traffic to crawl my way back to Kitchener. Toronto traffic has reached a new level of disgusting this year. What I used to think was ‘bad traffic’ is now something I pine for, my average drive time from Kitchener often stretching well past the two hour mark (this night being no exception).

The last time Kylesa was to play Toronto (an Annex Wreckroom show on a cold night in February, a few years ago) I wound up stranded in the snow on Highway 401. I’ve been jonesing in a bad way to see them again ever since.

Kylesa is a riff-heavy sludge metal band from Savannah, Georgia. Their live show features three guitarists (with vocals handled in tandem by Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants) lined up in front of two drummers; the effect is an utterly amazing aural experience. Hats off to Mastodon for exposing me to Kylesa many years ago. Kylesa blew me away the first time I saw the band, and has continued to amaze me ever since.

As Carl McGinley and John Edwards bashed out the drumming backbone to a dozen assorted Kylesa tracks, Cope, Pleasants and bassist Chase Rudeseal totally delivered the goods on their respective guitars. There were moments during their set, on songs like ‘Unspoken’, ‘Shaping the Southern Sky’, ‘To Forget’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’ that I simply couldn’t contain my excitement, and bashed my head about like a man half my age.

I was totally happy to secure a limited vinyl pressing of Spiral Shadow (my favourite Kylesa album) along with a band shirt featuring a large screen printed 9 volt battery with the Kylesa wordmark in distressed fashion running sideways up the face of the battery. A simple shirt design, but one I’ve been admiring online for a while now. It was a treat to buy the merchandise I’d hoped for, at a reasonable price and without shipping and US importation on any of it.

The inclusion of ‘Shaping the Southern Sky’ this evening was of additional significance as it’s a new track on their upcoming 7th full-length release, Exhausting Fire, due October 2nd on Season of Mist. This song, along with two additional tracks are available online to stream as of right now, and they bode extremely well for what could be Kylesa’s finest album to date.

A wicked live show – the performance wasn’t long enough for my liking, and I already want to see the band again. I guess that’s a good thing, right?

Setlist:
Hollow Severer
We’re Taking This
Unknown Awareness
Unspoken
Where the Horizon Unfolds
Running Red
Scapegoat
Shaping the Southern Sky
Don’t Look Back
To Forget
Tired Climb
Said and Done

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