When I first heard that Alex Landenburg (Luca Turilli's Rhapsody/Mekong Delta) was teaming up with Jake E (ex-Amaranthe/Dreamland) and Jesper Strömblad (ex-In Flames), I frankly didn't know what to expect. All incredible talents in their own rights, they almost come from distant ends of the spectrum. One thing was certain, this was going to me a slab of modern metal/rock. Previous to hearing, your author had suspicions this would have a heavy dose of Amaranthe type glitz, sans Elyze, and while that proved correct, "Letters to Myself" also proves incredibly enjoyable and thankfully sounds nothing like recent In Flames material.
There is no doubt that Jake E is one of the most talented voices out there. However, part of me also believes that a boy band out there in Sweden is missing a vocalist. Joking aside, Jake sounds brilliant and his range is impeccable - just listen to "Holding Your Breath." His work in Amaranthe is so distinct that I cannot shake the reference from my mind. Expect a heavy dose of borderline pop glitz rock on "Letters to Myself" - on full display in songs like "Muted Life," "Heartrage" and "Rescue Ride." For fans that have a hard time with that style, this album will be a very tough sell.
Where CyHra really hits the mark is when it departs from the glitz a bit and really hits home with the melody - and that shines on the immensely gorgeous ballad "Inside a Lullaby," the hard rockin' "Dark Clarity" and the album's best song "Black Wings," which has a soaring catchy melodious chorus that sticks in the brain forever. It cannot be overstated how great it is that the band decided not to opt for the fashionable addition of death growls. It also cannot be overstated how great a drummer Alex Landenburg is, proving over and over why he remains your author's all time favorite.
CyHra definitely has the star power, talent, label support and style that will propel them into regular North American tours, something Amaranthe has excelled in. "Letters to Myself" is filled with energy and bursting with talent that makes it one of modern metal's highlights, absent any releases from the bar-setting Scar Symmetry. The album has a dance-ability to it that is sure to attract throngs of younger fans to start dance party pits. Fortunately, most of the creepy mouth breathing and salivating 40+ dudes will pass with the lack of Elize Ryd.