Release Date: Nov 20, 2012
Record label: Season of Mist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal
An odds-and-ends collection from psychedelic sludge merchants Kylesa, From the Vaults, Vol. 1 shows that, even when it comes to outtakes and castaways, the band is willing to go that extra mile to make it a mind-altering experience for the listener. Change the name and get rid of a couple of the less useful filler tracks like "Bass Salts" and "Drum Jam," and From the Vaults could easily have been a studio record, showing all of the care and craft that the band put into its critically acclaimed breakout album, Spiral Shadow.
When an album possessing the title held by the one above appears, the process mentally materializes instantly: band needs to fulfill contract, doesn't have a legit album to put out. Band then looks back over catalog, cherry-picks one-off songs they tossed to some various artists comps, maybe an uninspired cover or two, contacts old friends they put out a split with to see if they'd mind having their half of the split basically excised from the larger scale release (and the public consciousness, for that matter). Wham, bam, instant "rarities" collection composed of previously released material.
These days, especially for active bands, rarity compilations seem like fading vestiges of an antiquated industry. When most every gig seems to work its way onto YouTube, and when unreleased tracks act as fresh bait for legal downloads, one expects that most groups aren’t sitting on enough fully formed but unheard songs to necessitate such stopgaps. The internet demands its content like grist for the mill, so that quality often succumbs to quantity.
This collection of rarities from Savannah, GA's Kylesa is more than a curiosity and, in some respects, is a revising of parts of their catalogue. From the Vaults, Vol. 1 features one entirely new song, entitled "End Truth," in addition to alternative versions of tracks that have been featured on other albums. The record also features a cover of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun." From the Vaults isn't Kylesa's leftovers, but rather a glimpse into alternate universe versions of their material — tracks as they might have been had they followed alternate paths.
Kylesa’s metamorphosis over the past ten years has been an absolute pleasure to witness from afar. The Savannah, Georgia sludge troupe emerged at the early stages of the last decade full of the same piss-and-vinegar as their fellow DIY bands that were fighting it out in dives and squats spreading their take on crust-punk, hardcore and sludge to anyone brave enough to listen. Much like their Georgian brethren in Mastodon and Baroness, Kylesa then traveled away from the outright assault of their early releases by incorporating diverse inspirations into their sonic union of EyeHateGod, Neurosis, Black Flag, Nausea and the Melvins—influences which fed the roots of 2002’s Kylesa, 2005’s To Walk a Middle Course and 2006’s appropriately titled, Time Will Fuse Its Worth.
Although often highlighted as among crust metal’s elite, Kylesa sound best when stepping outside their comfort zone. And the best odds and sods collected here are those on which they stray from relentless shouting. The punkish “Paranoid Tempo” features the group’s singers attempting new-wavey vocals Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell would approve of, and the gloomy grunge of “End Truth” shows a more restrained side of the Savannah screamers that they should exploit more.
Heavy metal can get overbearing; the relentless aggression grows tiresome and wears on the listener. So when a band like Kylesa comes around — one that can pummel and drift meditatively, often within the same song — they’re embraced. They’re adapting a genre built on strict principles (downtuned chords, ominous tones) to a new set of rules. Surprisingly, Kylesa’s odds-and-sods compilation, From the Vaults, Vol.