Savannah, Ga., sludge metal band Kylesa is too big to be contained on the tiny Backstage of the Black Cat. Fans knew this was coming: The quintet’s latest album, “Spiral Shadow” (Season of Mist), was released to rave reviews last year (including a coveted 8.4 by indie tastemakers Pitchfork), and the crowd at Thursday night’s show packed the room.
The band’s sound was always huge: That’s what two drummers (with full kits) and two singer/guitarists gets you. Corey Barhorst’s bass was the only instrument that wasn’t doubled up, but he pulled his own double duty on keys. Guitarist Phillip Cope also rocked three floor toms, and Barhorst had his own small percussion setup, too.
The drummers egged each other on to be fiercer, harder, stronger. And when all instruments dropped out and Cope and Barhorst joined in on percussion on “Hollow Severer” and another extended jam to close the main set, the group turned into a metal version of STOMP, shaking the walls with a rattling roar.
Cope and guitarist/singer Laura Pleasants traded lead vocal duties within songs, her throaty scream complementing his hard-edged bark. She added a sultry vocal melody to the raucous “Don’t Look Back,” but she was always intense, matching forces with the drums every step.
This sonic flood came from a stage awash in instruments. At the end of the night, Cope made light of the pileup, which actually prevented the band from leaving the stage before its encore. “We’re stuck on stage,” he said, casually. “Y’all wanna hear another one?”
Kylesa’s psych edge owes as much to early Pink Floyd as it does to Black Sabbath. So, it was fitting that the band closed the night out with a cover of Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” with Pleasants’ vocals floating overhead as the band rode on a rumbling haze.
1) “Hollow Severer”
2) “Unknown Awareness”
3) “Running Red”
4) “Crowded Road”
5) “Tired Climb”
7) “Distance Closing In”
8) “Bottom Line”
9) “Descend Within”
10) “Don’t Look Back”
11) “Only One”
12) “Said and Done”
13) ” Scapegoat”
14) (percussion jam)
15) “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” (Pink Floyd cover)
Written by Express contributor Catherine Lewis
Photo by Evy Mages/For The Washington Post
Video courtesy DCHeavyMetal.com