It’s no secret that I love stoner metal, especially in its more progressive varieties. Something about the mixture of synths and the distortion or perhaps the imagery often surrounding these albums just draws me to them like a moth to the flame (not the Metallica song in this case). That’s why, when I was faced with Kylver‘s cover art and description for The Island, I was instantly drawn in. Those pink monoliths, the track lengths, the promise of instrumental and progressive stoner rock; everything was promising. Happily, that promise was more than capitalized upon by the album itself, as it provided me with expanse sonic soundscapes filled with interesting ideas and musical phrases. Head on down below for your first listen and then we’ll chat.
Opening track “The Great Storm of 1703” (referencing a gigantic storm of the Southern Coast of England which heavily damaged London and shaped the cultural consciousness of the nascent empire for more than half a century) is really the only place to start. The first half of the track, featuring a creepy main synth line, is all descending scales and guitar flourishes, backed by a muscular groove section. However, near the one third mark, it gets broken up by a melancholy section featuring phased guitars and more Opeth like roles for the synths. This ushers in the more toned down middle of the track, which is nonetheless just as engaging. “But wait” you might say, “how do we have time for all of these segments?”. The answer is simple, my good friend: the first track is thirteen minutes long.
Nor does it last a second too much. Blending the intro and the quieter passage, Kylver arrive at a formula which should be very familiar to fans of Samsara Blues Experiment (more on them later this week by the way). The heavier tones and ideas blend with drawn out guitar passages and ever increasing synths before ending up at the intensely progressive and overwhelming intro. And now, at the end of such a masterful track, there’s whole album left. More or less the same tools get utilized across this incredible release but, like the opening track itself, it doesn’t feel drawn out or over stays its welcome.
This is because Kylver are expert athletics, balancing the intricate passage and their more psychedelic ideas to an amazing degree. This allows them to play to the strengths of either sound, without one of them wearing out its welcome. This hints at musicians very secure in their ideas and capabilities, musicians who don’t feel the need to deteriorate into fanservice or self indulgence to get their point across. It also makes The Island a very rewarding and easy to digest listen, setting it apart from a lot of the sub-genre. It’s an excellent album which communicates very well with the listener, conveying interesting ideas without burdening itself too much.