|Genre||Melodic Groove Metal|
|Release Date||20 Oct 2017|
As a longtime fan of Amaranthe, I was anxious to hear Joacim “Jake E” Lundberg’s new supergroup project, CyHra, upon its announcement in early 2017. Since he is one of the founders of Amaranthe, I had an idea as of what to expect. However, the result of their first album, Letters to Myself, is hardly derivative. The product is a heavily electronically-infused dose of groove metal, with stellar performances by guitarist Jesper Strömblad (ex In Flames) and drummer Alex Landenburg (Angels Cry), that stands out as an exceptional piece of work.
There isn’t much I dislike about Letters to Myself. Between the multiple vocal tracks and numerous electronic sounds in the background, the music retains a full sound whether it’s a quieter tune, like ‘Closure’, or a more intense track such as ‘Heartrage’. The music manages to match the emotional lyrics, and the lyrics are artistically written and rarely integrate distracting stereotypes or clichés. Landenburg’s versatile drumming is never boring and his beats change many times in each song, offering plenty of variety.
The band opens with solid heavy metal riffage in ‘Karma’. The rhythm parts underneath the catchy chorus ensure a driving energy all the way to the half-time guitar solo, and it finishes with the same energy it began with. Jake E’s melodies are flowing and his voice carries its usual smooth power metal timbre. ‘Karma’ is anything but boring and provides a promising groundwork for the rest of the album.
‘Here To Save You’ has got to be my favourite song on the record. Strömblad plays a ripping guitar solo and the drums just do not quit. It begins with a somber acoustic run but quickly erupts into a song with a lot of power and hopefulness. The breakdown near the end is a short but sweet reference to the forceful staccato grooves that are ever-present in Jake E’s former band, and it ends well before it has worn out its welcome.
While most of the songs on the album have a constant underlying sixteenth-based putter, ‘Inside A Lullaby’ pulls right back. The drums, guitar, and bass sit this track out, making for a very heartfelt vocal feature, with piano and keyboard parts filling in the details. The momentum from the rest of the album returns in the fantastic closing song ‘Dead To Me’.
Letters to Myself is an outstanding album. Each band member is extremely talented and the production quality is stunning. The sound is very distinct from Amaranthe, despite Jake E’s direct involvement with the songwriting for nine years. It stays away from that pop sound and instead keeps the electronic elements in the background for support only. My eagerness to hear this record was satisfyingly satiated, but I am very excited to hear what Jake E releases next.
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