Ultraviolet by Kylesa is a powerful, driving record that shows an evolution of the band's sound into new areas. In my opinion, it is the best Kylesa record to date and is the first record of theirs to really make me stop and take notice of the sound they have been cultivating over the past 11 years. To be honest, I came to this album a little bit skeptical. I first listened to Kylesa on their 2010 release Spiral Shadow (so to be clear, I haven't been a fan from the beginning). While I enjoyed that album, there were several things that weren't exactly my cup of tea. I felt that the "dual drummer" sound was crowded and confused, the songs were a bit repetitious, and the strengths of the multiple vocalists weren't being fully utilized. I am happy to say that all of these concerns have been addressed on Ultraviolet and the result is a fantastic record.
The album opens with the powerful "Exhale", showcasing the chant-style vocals that Kylesa is known for. Right away I noticed that the drums were less crowded, resulting in a cleaner sound. This song really drives and kicks things off in a great way. The second song, "Unspoken", begins to mix in a bit of the softer/trippy side of the band, which is more heavily showcased on the back half of the album. This is one of the catchier songs on Ultraviolet and showcases Laura Pleasants vocals in a great way. The album progresses from there, with the first half focusing more on heavier/powerful songs and the back half focusing on somewhat lighter songs. Overall, the mood of the album just feels comfortable and you really get the sense that Kylesa is settling into a sound of their own.
While I am a fan on the entire album, there are two tracks in particular that really stand out for me. The first is "We're Taking This", the fourth song on the album. I LOVE the vocal delivery that Laura Pleasants delivers on this track. It is heavy, in your face, and commanding. I would listen to an entire album with her delivering this vocal style any day. The second stand out track for me is "Steady Breakdown". This one has such a great sound with a monster guitar riff and amazing ethereal vocals. The first time I heard it, I couldn't help but think that it sounded like Stevie Nicks singing with Black Sabbath. So cool and the standout track overall for me on the album.
My only complaint would be that a few of the songs later on the album feel a bit redundant and don't stand out. "Vulture's Landing", "Quicksand", and "Drifting" are all cool songs in their own right, but don't jump out at me like some of the earlier songs on the album. With that said, they still really fit the mood of the album and don't leave you disappointed.
In my opinion, this album showcases all of the great elements about Kylesa and remedies some of the things I haven't loved on their earlier albums. I would definitely recommend this and I will eagerly look forward to what Kylesa does next.