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Every Kylesa Album Ranked Worst to Best

Formed by Laura Dern’s metal clone, Laura Pleasants, Kylesa provided walls of swampy sludge, straight from Savannah, Georgia, right to your ear bones. Joined by fellow riffster and singer Philip Cope and longtime drummer and the least hateable Carl (most hateable goes to Carl from the Walking Dead)in the form of Carl McGinley on drums for the majority of their career, hooo he, was it country bumping too, with sonics attune to the crushing weight of a fatty gator pasta, to the light, earthy atmospherics of gumbo with mushrooms added for “flavor”, Kylesa sent you on a climb to new heights and dimension when they were active workhorses from the late 1990s until the dreaded “indefinite hiatus” in 2016, leaving a void that spirals into you in their absence.

A void we have decided to fill by reminding everyone about one of the best and most influential sludge metal bands of all time. So saddle up, partner, and prepare to stare into the void with us as we rank every Kylesa album from worst to best.

7. Exhausting Fire (2015)

More like exhausted fire, this album feels like a step back from the previous release “Ultraviolet,” with frankly doomier sounds, without as much gloom as previous records. The band sounds checked out man, and not in a good, tripping our manner, but in a fucking around on Excel until you get your paycheck and fuck off kind of way. Not a bad record by any stretch, but the band was clearly losing steam, and the ensuing hiatus should not have came as a surprise to anyone, but the band closed their career with one of the best and most inventive Black Sabbath covers ever with a beautiful, ethereal “Paranoid” laying Kylesa peacefully to rest (for now).

Play It Again: Crusher
Skip It: Lost and Confused

6. Self-Titled (2002)

No, the band didn’t start their career with a Metallica cover, but it would have been poetic if they did, as their career bookends with another cover of a legendary metal band. This album is Kylesa at their rawest, with much more extreme metal influences being thrown into the proverbial stew that was Kylesa’s evolving sound. This record definitely feels like a calibration record, with the band’s influence on clear display, whereas later records would see their ingredients mixed with more flair and pzazz that is uniquely their own, just like good and spicy Jambalaya on the Bayou where the meat is cooked juussstttt right.

Play It Again: “Testing of The Good of Man”
Skip It: “Descend Within”

5. To Walk A Middle Course (2005)

Kylesa in peak sludge metal form here, and ‘In Memory” kicks things off with a riff as memorable as it is crushing, and the rest of the riffs would make Tony Iommi and co. proud mixed with modern sensibilities, hence the death growls courtesy of noisy jowls, Laura and Phil really come into their own on this record as both guitarist, songwriters, and singers. While it may not have been the first Kylesa record, it was the one that clearly established them as a blazing force in modern metal (of both the riff and spliff variety). The only really bad thing to say about this album is that it doesn’t quite hit the highs of later albums, but you gotta test your rockets before you make a moon landing, and while Kylesa doesn’t quite land on the moon, closing track “Crashing Slow” makes us feel like we’re damn close.

Play It Again: “Welcome Mat To An Abandoned Life”
Skip It: “Eyes Closed From Birth”

4. Spiral Shadows (2010)

More atmospheric and expansive when compared to its predecessor, this record is not a drag, but it does take a drag off you, just like the weed plant in the first Scary Movie lighting up Shorty, which makes sense when coming off hot from Static Tensions. This to say, the record is on fire, and if you don’t play it at the right speed on your record player, it may just get hot enough to start a fire, but it also functions as a better lighter than your stove element when your mate has pocketed your lighter, getting two birds stoned at once without having to leave your living room.

Play It Again:…One Big Mac With Bacon Please, after climbing the Mcdonald’s steps through a “Tired Climb”
Skip it: No, I’m Good

3. Ultraviolet (2013)

Kylesa’s most straight-up moon orbit record, there’s less aggression here than all of the previous records but that’s not such a bad thing. Phil and Laura firmly cement their place as the Dave Murray and Adrian Smith of sludge, and masters of the guitar trudge, with the ever-reliable Mr. McGinnley on drums, and Eric Hernandez playing bass, drums AND Guitar on this record, there’s more talent on display here than on many contemporary records. Satisfies like a Po’boy when you have the munchies.

Play It Again: ‘Exhale,” right after a faaatttt inhale on a spliff
Skip It: Nah, you’re next in rotation

2. Time Will Fuse Its Worth (2006)

Starting off as slow thicc Southern gravy, with just as rich and complex a flavor profile, a funky taste too, and quite frankly, were not sure quite what’s going on now, apparently the flower is turning into some person and their face on the album cover, but the vibes are good man, lots of weird song structures, this album is both crushing and uplifting at the same time. Woooaaaaahhhh!!! And if we’re not, we’re just dust in the wind dude, one with all and all with one, and if anything is worth anything, time will surely fuse its worth. We’re cool, we swear.

Play It Again: “What Becomes an End”
Skip It: Intro, and Outro

1. Static Tensions (2009)

“Scapegoat” starts the album by creating an aural experience mimicking the feels and spirals sometimes provided on little strips of paper, this is not just an album but an experience. The two-drummer setup kicks the Grateful Dead’s sorry hippie asses to the curb with an experience just as psychedelic but without all that wonk wonk guitar crap, rending splendor for all of your sense holes. Serious props to Phillip Cope on not just the guitar, but the production as well, providing the right balance of filth and fervor, perfecting the sound to a collection of perfect songs, with a sound cleaner than your average hippie or crustie, defining haut sludge.

Play It Again: Yeah dude!
Skip It: …huh, nah I’m good Man.