December 3, 2015 | by Bryne Yancey

One of my goals in starting The Runout somewhat aligns with one of my goals in real life: To constantly surround myself with new, atypical ideas communicated by people much smarter than I am.

It’s important to read and listen and learn from those on a higher plane than us and hope that we better ourselves in the process and hey, just maybe intimate some sort of idea that smarter person hadn’t thought of yet. Come on, it could happen.

I listen to heavy metal for similar reasons. Punk rock is my first true love, we’ll be together forever, but with few exceptions punk’s aesthetic is riddled with technical holes. That’s part of the appeal, really, those built-in flaws, that notion that anyone can do it and that’s why we identify with it on such a personal level. But when I listen to metal, particularly a band like Kylesa, I feel as though I am in the presence of greatness, in the presence of ideas so far above what my feeble brain can muster. Loud as it is, I try to let it wash over me as best I can. Heavy metal speaks simultaneously speaks to a visceral part of my brain while also forcing me to consider my own limitations as a person, as a writer, everything. Here are these people, onstage or on record, who are demonstrably better than me, than most of us, at creating art and conveying a message. It’s humbling in a way.

Kylesa’s new LP Exhausting Fire is the best of their career thus far, which, considering that both Spiral Shadow and Ultraviolet are bonafide masterpieces of the genre, is tough to believe. It feels a little back-to-basics at times; the riffs are louder and more visceral than ever, the production is maybe a little less unconventionally swampy than on the band’s previous work, but it just feels so balanced, like such a perfect distillation of their aesthetic. The way those swirling, pulverizing riffs from Laura Pleasant and Phillip Cope interact with and complement Pleasant’s distant, vacant, straightforward vocals is such a captivating stylistic choice that augments every inch of the song. Carl McGinley’s hard-charging, heavy drumming is so much fun to listen to; he never tries to do too much like a lot of metal drummers tend to; he just hits everything really fucking hard and makes it count. There’s a long, quiet interlude in the middle of the song from about the 2:20 mark to the 4:38 mark, replete with empty space, quiet, psychedelia-laced guitars, and eerily distorted vocals from Cope which all makes the riffs, when they do return, so eminently satisfying. And Pleasant’s lyrics actually carry a super positive message; the whole song seems to be about getting out of your comfort zone, adapting to new plans and taking chances. How’s that for sage life advice in the form of a metal song?