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Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa are in a bit of an odd spot career-wise. The sludge metal quintet, anchored by founding members Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants, have been a reliable presence for the better part of 15 years. They’ve spent plenty of time on the road and released record after record of consistently solid and genre-expansive tunes, to the point that it seems people might be taking them for granted in 2015. October 19th’s show at Allston’s Brighton Music Hall felt like an involuntarily low-key affair; unfortunate, as it turned out to be an affirmation of the band’s enduring merits.

First off, they did a fine job in choosing tourmates. North Carolina trio Irata unfortunately had to sit out their Boston date due to the hospitalization of drummer Jason Ward, but Ontario’s Indian Handcrafts and Inter Arma of Richmond, VA provided more than adequate support.

Indian Handcrafts’ duo approach to riff-y stoner-sludge worked out nicely. Guitarist Daniel Allen and drummer Brandyn Aikins offered up a lesson in efficiency, banging out tight, heavy and groovy songs while trading off vocals and doing the work of several band members in just two.

Inter Arma, meanwhile, seized upon another chance to prove that they’re one of metal’s best, brightest and most underrated bands. The five-piece’s fusion of atmospheric post-rock dynamics and blackened death-sludge presented the night’s most viscerally intense set. Vocalist Mike Paparo stomped and raged his way through every song, belting his lyrics and losing himself in the spacey instrumental interludes. The songs had an epic, elemental physicality to them, performed with absolute conviction by the band. It was crushing, stunningly good stuff.

Kylesa’s headlining set took on a less overwhelming air, but their style has rarely been about sounding so. They frequently get heavy, but their songs are balanced out by a bluesy, psychedelic spin. Lit by swirling projections reminiscent of a Twilight Zone opening sequence, the band eased into a dynamic set drawing from 2015’s Exhausting Fire and their past several releases in equal measure.

Both Pleasants and Cope were understated presences on stage, in keeping with the band’s less-than-ostentatious nature. Their dual-drummer approach could come across as gimmickry, but in practice it functioned subtly until the explosive moments when having two percussionists made its benefits known. The group encapsulated the range of their sound well, delivering an airtight and dynamic set that swung effortlessly between headbanging moments and hazier shades of heaviness; proof that as Kylesa near veteran status, they continue to own their style with unassuming confidence.  

—Ben Stas

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Indian Handcrafts

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Inter Arma

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Kylesa

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