CyHra
Letters to Myself
(Spinefarm Records)

I had this realization when watching my Indianapolis Colts poop the bed again in the 4th quarter: personnel really matters. Whether it’s having the right quarterback to operate a 4th down sneak (we don’t) or the right secondary who understand zone coverage (spoiler: of course not), having the right people in the right positions makes all the difference sometimes. This simple and rather obvious insight explains why the debut from newly-formed CyHra is a masterclass in melodic metal.

The group features former Amaranthe vocalist Jake E and two former In Flames members, guitarist Jesper Stromblad and bassist Peter Iwers. Nothing against drummer Alex Landenburg; it’s just that his former project is less known, though his contributions on Letters to Myself are notably excellent. That’s really the theme here, as CyHra squeeze out every ounce of the members’ collective talent into a debut that is triumphant, charging, and uplifting. CyHra sound like a mid-point between Amaranthe and mid-career In Flames: big riffs, bigger choruses, and just the right amount of cheese. The title track is probably the best representation of all that the band offers, and it’s likely to serve as a gauge for those that curl their lips at the thought of melodic metal. Just be rest assured: this is many levels above In Flames’ recent output, and CyHra smartly tone down the electronic element so that it’s a nice accent rather than a main attraction.

No, the main attraction is Jake E’s soaring vocals and Stromblad’s patented melodeath riffs and solos. Some may be disappointed in how melodic Letters to Myself is; however, to go back to the original point: you work with your team to create the best possible output. Jake has a voice meant for this type of soaring, anthemic melodic metal, so you don’t want to set up your singer to fail just to please the gods of yesteryear. No, Letters to Myself is fantastic the way it is is, at least until the last two numbers. Just like my Colts, CyHra sputter a bit to the finish line, with too much ballad and not enough oomph. It’s not enough to dock them too much, but it drags this debut from being something truly special. Instead, they’ll just have to settle for being the best melodic metal album of the year.

Purchase the album here.

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