Published on November 11th, 2017 | by Justin G.
CyHra: Letters to Myself (Spinefarm)
I was disappointed when I heard the news that Jake E. had left pop metal sensation Amaranthe last year, but I knew a vocalist that talented was bound to land on his feet. In his new band CyHra, he teams up with former In Flames members Jesper Stromblad and Peter Iwers, plus Rhapsody (the Luca version) drummer Alex Landenburg. Pyramaze keyboardist Jonah Weingarten lends a hand on the band’s debut album Letters to Myself, which was produced by his Pyramaze bandmate (and all-around super-producer) Jacob Hansen.
Given the lineup, there was a lot of speculation around just what kind of sound CyHra would have. Visions of Colony/Whoracle era In Flames with clean singing danced around in my head. Letters to Myself is actually not too far removed from the early Amaranthe sound, which was kind of a surprise. The techno-pop elements are dialed back (but not completely absent), and there’s only one singer (except when the massive backing vocals kick in), but many of these songs could have fit nicely on The Nexus. It’s pretty close to the recent Dynazty sound too, which is amusing given that band’s singer is Jake’s replacement in Amaranthe now. I never know Jesper Stromblad had a pop metal album in him!
Even if this isn’t what I expected, Letters to Myself has a lot going for it. Jake E. has a unique, instantly recognizable voice and brings a great energy to the album. The vocals are a huge part of CyHra’s appeal. And while this is probably the poppiest we’ve ever seen Stromblad get, his melodies are ridiculously catchy and yes, there are traces of the Colony glory days. And between the band’s surprisingly effective skill at crafting catchy pop-metal and Hansen’s finishing touches (and past experience with Amaranthe), CyHra has put together about as perfect an example of what pop metal can be.
The obvious audience for CyHra is fans of Amaranthe who may have cringed during Maximalize’s most blatantly pop moments. People who loved the overall sound of The Nexus will love Letters to Myself. So will fans of the last two Dynazty albums. This one has huge crossover potential beyond that though. It’s right at the intersection of metal, hard rock and pop, and it’s full of songs like “Karma,” “Here to Save You” and “Holding Your Breath” that instantly get stuck in your head and demand repeat spins. Fans of bands like Treat, Hardcore Superstar, Pretty Maids, Jorn, Circus Maximus, and Eclipse ought to love this one.
Summary: One of the catchiest albums of the year