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CyHra - Letters to Myself Award winner

Letters to Myself
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 27 September 2017, 7:30 AM

Ex-AMARANTHE vocalist Jake E and former IN FLAMES guitarist Jesper Stromblad started this band in 2016, when they met to mutually discuss the direction of their careers and realized they were both looking for the same sound. Rounding out the line-up is the former bassist for IN FLAMES, Peter Iwes, and the current drummer for RHAPSODY, Alex Landenburg. “Supergroups” have always given me pause for concern, as the result is often that the whole is nowhere near the sum of the parts. However, the band doesn’t consider themselves a supergroup and have just come together in the joy of mutually created music. “Letters to Myself” contains twelve tracks, and let’s get to some of the highlights here.

Right out of the gate, “Karma” combines the audio elements of the aforementioned bands just as you might expect. The twin guitar harmonies that Jesper made famous with IN FLAMES combine with the super-slick pop sensibilities of AMARANTHE in a very pleasing way. On the kit, Landenburg knows when to keep things steady and heavy and when to add in some fills that showcase his intimate knowledge of percussion. The tender components in “Here to Save You” push a fast and furious riff with a big, emotional chorus that really melts you from the inside out as much as it does invigorate you with some aggression. The opening guitar notes in “Closure” are thoughtful and dreamy. The lyrics reflect some of the personal journey that Jesper went through towards the end of his time in IN FLAMES. It’s such a memorable song that is unabashedly pretty and touching, including a heart-felt guitar solo.

“Dark Clarity” is a mid-tempo song that offers up some fine guitar harmonies to go with the passion in Jake E’s voice. I really like the fact that these ardent Metal mavens are letting something flow through them that breathes life and beauty over a never-ending heavy brutality. I have always maintained the former is much harder to do. “Black Wings” is another emotive song that has ambient piano notes and an absolutely yearning vocal performance that spirals high into the horizon. Jesper’s lead breaks favor a pleasurable melody line over shredding speed. “Dead to Me” opens with some spoken words about coming to a crossroads and making a decision that doesn’t lead to later regrets, and the resolve to overcome your greatest enemies and emerge renewed. It’s a fitting ending to a wonderful album that really reflects the band member’s journeys up to this point.

In sum, it’s hard not to mention the sounds and influences that are present here from the past bands that the musicians were members in, but don’t mistake this for a re-hash of those bands or albums that you have heard before. Instead, it is a great, modern combination of some of the best elements from their previous bands in a forward thinking sound where the melody is held in the highest regard. Looking for a familiar shirt to wear heading out for the night with a confident agenda, but also something contemporary to revitalize your current playlist that is getting stale? If so, pick up “Letters to Myself” from CYHRA and enter the modern age of Metal.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Karma
2. Heartrage
3. Here to Save You
4. Muted Life
5. Closure
6. Letter to Myself
7. Dark Clarity
8. Holding my Breath
9. Rescue Ride
10. Black Wings
11. Inside a Lullaby
12. Dead to Me
Jake E – Vocals
Jesper Stromblad – Guitars
Peter Iwers – Bass
Alex Landenburg – Drums 
Record Label: Spinefarm Records


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