There are albums that hit you like a ton of bricks when you first hear them. “The Mountain Ghost” by UK’s Kylver was one of those albums. When a band can NAIL a debut album in a way that is so massive and powerful, it’s beyond impressive. Considering how unassuming the band is about their music, it’s a breath of fresh air in the music world.
Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for a new album and the band didn’t waste any time delivering a follow up just a year later in the form of “The Island.” Kylver are a perfect blend of prog rock and post metal, so the riffs are thick and powerful but the atmosphere harkens back to 70s classic prog. That was true for the first album and remains true on “The Island.”
If anything the riffs on “The Island” are perhaps heavier, which is fine because it shows that the band aren’t willing to make “The Mountain Ghost II.” Initially, I thought that maybe the balance of the band had shifted more toward the crunchy riffs of guitarist Jonny Scott and bassist James Bowmaker, but additional listens are always needed with a band with the layers of Kylver. Neil Elliott’s vintage keys are still very much a part of what the band does and he channels Jon Lord with some great Hammond work through out.
The album starts off with an epic, just as they did on “The Mountain Ghost,” with “The Great Storm of 1703.” Yes “The Island” is a concept album which is even more challenging for an instrumental band. The key to what enables Kylver to translate a concept without the benefit of lyrics and vocals lay with the arrangement and cinematic quality of the music. This epic is a perfect example. The muscular riffs along with the powerhouse drumming of Barry Mitcheson bring the storm to life!
“Hy-Brasil” is the first song the band released from the album and it’s a fucking barn-burner. If you wondered if Kylver can ROCK, this song answers that question. This is Kylver in full-on attack mode. “Monolith” might be my favorite track. The song is more atmospheric and even doomy. The song is the change of pace that was needed at this point of the album. It’s both foreboding and beautiful at the same time. The church organ part is immense.
“The Abyss” is like a slow free fall. Heavy as hell but the keys add a sense of dreaminess to everything. The song goes from an uneasy peace to hammering riffs which keep you on the edge of your seat. “The Great Race” finishes the album and the song has a very insistent riff which makes for a great climax to “The Island.”
If you are interested in the story behind this album, visit the band’s Bandcamp page where you can not only sample this great album but also read the story behind the music. Kylver have proven that they are not a one trick pony and have released a venerable followup to their debut masterpiece. “The Island” is the sound of a band that is clearly a force to be reckoned with.
1. The Great Storm of 1703
4. The Abyss
5. The Great Race