Monday, October 30, 2017

Cyhra - Letters To Myself (2017)

When it comes to super groups (aka newly formed bands that has experienced musicians involved), I tend to have some expectations to how they should tackle their new project. I never expect anything that can top the work of the previous bands, all I really want is something original, something that shows the artists range. I still try to keep my cool and not get overly excited, but my interest was certainly caught when I heard that one of the founders of In Flames, guitarist Jesper Strömblad, was putting together a new group that would make lovers of Swedish mainstream metal drool.

Besides from Strömblad, we got one of his former companions in In Flames Peter Iwers on bass, vocalist Jake E (who recently left Amaranthe), fellow guitarist Euge Valovirta (most known from Shining), and drummer Alex Landenburg, who has quite a resume, being in bands such as Annihilator, At Vance, and a whole other bunch of bands, both as a a real member and just on live performances. It is a well merited quintet indeed.

So the album is centered around the time when Strömblad's drug addiction got the better of him, keeping him away from living a sustainable life, like not being able to even play the guitar for a prolonged time. It is a personal album in many ways, and I really do appreciate that the man shows his feelings in this disc, but I do not feel like the music reflects that really well, at least not as good as the lyrics does.

It does start off pretty strong with the first single "Karma", a song that circles around a good main riff, a nice drive, and a powerful chorus, displaying a mix between In Flames and Amaranthe that is quite intriguing. The following song "Heartrage" is nice too, having the most memorable chorus and the most power in the album, but it is from here on out we all realize that Cyhra is more of an Amaranthe clone, which is fine for fans of the band, but it just lacks the dynamic vocal range when Jake E has to carry the burden himself without the other two vocalists.

The most disappointing part with "Letters To Myself" though is that Strömblad is hiding in the wings, rarely taking the center stage. Besides the main riff of "Karma" and a solo here or there, there is very little memorable guitarwork in this record. I do not mind if the band wants to focus more on Jake's vocals, but if you are going to do that, at least write some songs that can back him up and make him justice. Close to all 12 songs here are very accessible, but few have any memorable elements to them, which makes it really easy to get confused over which song is playing, because they all sound the same. It never gets exhausting to listen to the album (it is only 45 minutes long), but it is certainly easy to be bored.

After hearing their debut, I think I am going to compare Cyhra to a glass of milk. In the right time and place, it can be really refreshing, but most of the time it is kind of meh. I certainly expected more from the group than just a clone band that does not really take any risks, and while I do like that Strömblad gets so personal in the lyrics, it just fades away when it is accompanied with such bland music. If you like Amaranthe and can stand it without Elize Ryd and a harsh vocalist, then Cyhra is definitely for you, but if you really want any quality from this band, just search for the songs listed here under, and pray that if the band releases a new album, it will go more outside the box.

Songs worthy of recognition: Heartrage, Karma, Dark Clarity

Rating: 5,5/10 Black Wings

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