Much ballyhooed for their ability to mix crust, hardcore and metal, and for having three vocalists, KYLESA are all about throwing murky riffs, bottom-of-a-well screams, and lugubrious rhythms into a dour punk stew that name-checks everyone from old NEUROSIS to AMEBIX to EYEHATEGOD to UNSANE as it burbles and clatters downhill.
After a few tracks, KYLESA's zanily unpredictable mishmash of sound becomes… well… predictable. You'll get the idea after ten minutes — this sort of dirty, dreadlocked psychedelia blown out of the basement of an abandoned punk squat, hoarsely shouted, with riffs that sound apocalyptic in a blown-tube-amp kind of way. "Bottom Line" is a nice, catchy, streamlined oasis amid the murk (bonus points for it sounding like forgotten Texan weirdoes BRUTAL JUICE), but then it's back to fused-together riffs with awkward time changes and hookless bludgeoning.
This is all sounding pretty negative, but the thing is, KYLESA aren't bad at all, in small doses. It's nice to hear a band unafraid to get their punk in their metal, and the claustrophobic homogeneity of the riffing (see 16 and FUDGE TUNNEL, two other bands produced by KYLESA producer Alex Newport) has a kind of gutter charm to it — again, for a while. It takes a lot less than this album's 40 minute running time for it to turn into a pile of noisy yelling, though.
Part of the reason "Bottom Line" sticks out is because it's somewhat concise, and seems to have a beginning and an end. Too much of the rest of "To Walk a Middle Course" just meanders a bit too much for my taste. There are good parts here and there, and you have to have scads of respect for the band's nose-to-the-grindstone integrity, but man, when am I ever gonna bust this out and listen to it again? Go see 'em at a basement near you, and buy a t-shirt instead.