CYHRA - Letters To Myself
November 14, 2017, a year ago
Disclaimer: There are no extreme vocals on this album. No growls, no grunts, no belching, no screams, no farts, no screeches, no motorboat noises. If the idea of listening to an album full of clean melodic vocals from beginning to end makes you physically ill, I suggest the new Cradle Of Filth album for your enjoyment.
And the only reason the above disclaimer is necessary is due to the fact two former members of In Flames - guitarist Jesper Strömblad and bassist Peter Iwers - are members of CyHra. A reasonable assumption by In Flames fans, to be fair, that some type of extreme vocals would be on tap given that Strömblad shared songwriting duties with singer Jake E., but seeing as how Jake ditched Amaranthe to initially go solo all bets are off. No, this is a melodic metal album that stands out from the clutter by not compromising on the vocals and allowing Strömblad to shine as he did back in the days of Colony, Clayman and Whoracle. And for all the haters earned there is a growing legion of CyHra followers being drawn in from both the Amaranthe and In Flames camps.
Lead-off track / first single "Karma" sounds like the next step following Amaranthe's second album, The Nexus, with the added bonus of Strömblad's instantly recognizable riffing and tone. The band is big on melding guitars and keyboard parts - a Jake trademark - and they keep things up-tempo through to "Closure", which features a "lost" In Flames riff that Strömblad dusted off for the song. The title track, "Heartrage" and "Karma" are immediate stand-outs on the first listen and they only get better with time, but the vocal tour de force "Holding Your Breath", originally written for Amaranthe, is stellar. Add a lush Strömblad solo to the mix and you have the album's cornerstone, which presents an interesting problem in that the four songs that follow - "Rescue Ride", "Black Wings", "Inside A Lullaby" and "Dead To Me" - don't match the intensity of "Holding Your Breath". Things seem to fall off from that point, but do yourself a favour and use random play for Letters To Myself to get the full experience, as a track like "Black Wings" should be appreciated for its nod to the players' respective pasts.
Not a perfect album, but a perfectly solid debut loaded with promise for the future. Folks that hated the latest Amaranthe album, Maximalism, would do well to check out CyHra. And for those In Flames that have missed Strömblad, the man still has plenty to offer even without the cookie monster growls backing him up.