Kylesa’s psychedelic, varied metal sound has been grabbing interested ears for more than a decade. Drawing on sounds from across the punk and metal spectrum and featuring a trio of vocalists has meant for a varied output over a half-dozen albums, the latest being their May release ‘Ultraviolet’.

New album in tow, they’ve set out on tour with an equally diverse trio of acts: Instrumental tech-metallers Lazer/Wulf, witchy Sabbath and Tull fans Blood Ceremony and New York psychedelic titans White Hills. Kitchener prog combo Sierra jumped aboard for some of the tour’s Canadian dates, adding to the diversity.

Unfortunately, being on a five-band bill meant the power trio played to about a dozen fans around seven o’clock, strung out in a parallel line wedged between the monitors in front and towering amp stacks crowned with jammed pedal boards behind them. They gave a solid set with echoes of early Rush and Firebird.

Lazer/Wulf fared with a similar set-up, somewhat hampering bouncy guitarist Bryan Aiken’s ability to jump around. What wasn’t impaired was the trio’s ability to tear through a roller coaster of technical metal while still grinning wildly. Their jovial blitz brought considerable audience applause.

By the time White Hills took the stage for their alloted thirty minutes, there was a bit more space on stage - enough for a smoke machine and some floor lamps to the budget 1970's rock image provided by bassist Ego Sensation’s velvet dress and red leather boots (to say nothing of her see-thru Dan Armstrong bass) and guitarist Dave W’s mascara, tight flowered shirt and leather pants.

Their sound draws heavily on the 1970s as well, but it’s a charging melange of Birmingham sludge and German motorik drumming courtesy of Nick Hame. The monster fuzz mantras made a great impression; their set could easily have gone on a lot longer as far as the crowd was concerned.

Like Kylesa, Blood Ceremony have a new album out, ‘The Eldritch Dark’. Their formula hasn’t changed a bit. Singer Alia O’Brien’s red fringed top and guitarist Sean Kennedy’s doublecut Yamaha and leather vest harken back to the days of Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull just as much as their witchy doom rock and wild flute. They’ve made several trips to Ottawa from their Toronto homebase, and seem to be a stronger, more tightly focussed act each time. Their set also fell far short of the amount the audience wanted to see.

Kylesa rounded the night off with a devastating set which finally made good use of all the gear piled on stage - the dual drum kits (manned by Carl McGinley and Eric Hernandez), the theremin and skateboard used by singer-guitarist Phil Cope, as well as keyboards for both Cope and bassist Chase Rudeseal. (Guitarist Laura Pleasants had to make do with only a pair of well-stocked pedalboards.)

Illuminated by a spinning and shifting light show, the band kicked things off with the ‘Tired Climb’ off 2010’s ‘Spiral Shadows’, its chiming intro double-tapped by Pleasants with Theremin accompaniment from Cope, before the song’s crunching main course kicked in.

From there it was a rush through songs from the band’s catalogue, with a more from ‘Spiral Shadows’ including a Pleasants-sung ‘To Forget’. Then it was time for a dip into their new album with another Pleasants-led number ‘Quicksand’, which depending on one’s taste is either reminiscent of Jesu or the Smashing Pumpkins.

The band went deeper into their earlier, thrashier days with a charging version of shouter ‘Bottom Line’ from 2005’s ‘To Walk a Middle Course’.

Mid-set the band’s frontline took a break so they could tune while Hernandez and McGinley busted out a double drum solo.

It was time for another new song, which finally made use of the skateboard on Cope’s rack of gear. Strung over the trucks and equipped with a pickup and tuning pegs, it provided some decaying fuzz tones for ‘Unspoken’. Then it was on to the steady chug of ‘Unspoken Awareness’ and a rip right through to the finale. A heavy duty version of ‘Scapegoat’ was a particular standout.

It was a standout night at the crossroads of metal and psychedelica, and all too short an evening.

Kylesa Set List

Tired Climb
Said and Done
Don't Look Back
To Forget
Bottom Line
Nature's Predators(drum solo)
Unknown Awareness
Long Gone
Running Red

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