Kylesa

To Walk a Middle Course

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Many rock musicians love to run around insisting that they are "genre busters" who "defy musical boundaries" when, in fact, they provide generic, cookie-cutter material that is big on formula and short on originality. If one repeats a lie often enough, he/she may start to believe it -- and there are plenty of musicians who honestly believe all the nonsense that goes into their press kits. But when Kylesa's members tell you that To Walk a Middle Course is difficult to categorize, they speak the truth; the Savannah, GA, outfit really is striving for originality on this CD, which was recorded in 2004 and released in 2005. Perhaps the most convenient description of what they do is alternative metal -- a broad, far-reaching term that has been applied to everyone from Limp Bizkit to Hammerlock to Nothingface to System of a Down. But if Kylesa are essentially an alt-metal band, they're an alt-metal band with a variety of metal and non-metal influences; during the course of the album, they draw on everything from doom metal/stoner rock to punk to goth rock. Elements of Neurosis, Eyehategod, Orange Goblin, and Black Sabbath assert themselves, as do elements of the Melvins, Lydia Lunch, and X. In fact, Kylesa often employ the punky male vocals/punky female vocals contrast that worked so well for X in the '80s, although they're a much heavier band. Kylesa can be very dissonant, noisy, and discordant, but they aren't that way all the time; moments of sensory assault can easily be followed by passages that are moody, eerie, and darkly atmospheric. To Walk a Middle Course isn't as consistent as it could have been, but more often than not, Kylesa's risk-taking pays off on this intriguing, if uneven, effort.

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