Cyhra - No Halos in Hell

Cyhra No Halos in Hell cover
No Halos in Hell
Nuclear Blast
Cyhra, are a bit of a supergroup, consisting of members current and former of Kamelot, Amaranthe, Rhapsody, In Flames and others, who decided to collaborate on a new project, which turned out to be more fulfilling than a lot of their former band. As the band consists mainly of industry “heavy weights” it didn’t take long for them to be picked by a big company, Nuclear Blast in this case.
But it wasn’t only the musicians’ stature, which led to their signing, but the response that their rather solid debut album received that must have helped their cause. On this sophomore album, the band seems to have taken the criticisms their debut received and without, betraying their overall style they seem to walk further away from Amaranthe or later day In Flames, that their debut might have subconsciously aped a bit, in places and into a far more organic, but at the same time forward thinking sound that’s their own. They haven’t revolutionized their own sound, but their evolution is so significant that a new identity is emerging fast.
Their sound is still unapologetically melodic and modern, but at the same time heavier than pop and more prog than alternative in a weird mix that shouldn’t work, but against all odds, does. The overall rhythms tend to be a little more complex and guitars tend to really be more focused and concentrated, wherever they come to the fore. There’s great focus on the lush vocal lines, which embody the drama, without trying cheap vocal pyrotechnics, in order to build tension and release. Instead they feel like an instrument and I mean that as a compliment, as they still manage to be the focal point, but at the same time feel perfectly in tune, with the music very harmoniously mixed with it, instead of antagonizing it. Whoever mixed this album deserves a medal, as you can hear everything, at almost every level, really clearly and it doesn’t sound as plastic, as one would expect from a “modern” album; in fact, it probably sounds more organic than a lot of other stuff out there. A perfect balance between the old and new school.
“Out of My Life” is the opener and it sounds a fair bit like something that could have been on the debut, but with some key differences manifesting themselves straight away. It feels like Linkin Park with better vocals, better melodies and no raps, a cool chorus and some shit hot guitar playing. What’s not to like?!
“No Halos in Hell” is significantly heavier, but without going overboard. It’s a little melancholic, and strikes the perfect balance between the instruments, with another chorus easily hitting the mark.
“Battle from Within” is a very special song. It has to do with suicide. Apparently the singer’s brother took his life. A lot of us, have either been there, or know someone who has. Since I am one of “those” attempted suicides… I had a bit of a hard time fathoming the song’s theme as it reminds me of a darker time, but viewing it with a clearer mind, it’s not only a beautiful song, but one that shines a positive light on those who are in a battle with themselves. It shows a lot of empathy, which is usually what those people crave the most, in their bleakness. It dares to tackle such a delicate subject and it does without romanticizing it. Whether you buy the album or not, do yourself a favor listen to this song and embrace its meaning. Let it heal you a bit, if you’re in trouble. Life can be shitty, but also good and it’s worth living, just for the opportunity.
“I Am the One” is probably one of the better songs on the album, easily besting half of what modern day In Flames have been trying to do in the past couple of decades… granted it’s not as heavy, but neither were they at certain points in recent times.
“Bye Bye Forever” has some more playful melodies, but also the same dance-able groovy bass and overall feelgood vibe of its predecessor and it even squeezes in an acoustic section. (Damn) These couple of songs, if they could ever get some airplay in America would catapult the band into superstardom, there…
“Dreams Gone Wrong” grooves along nicely, after an Amaranthian intro that is soon negated by some nifty, sturdy riffing, that’s neo-InFlamesy. Typical of the band and probably on the good side of them tracks.
“Lost in Time” is a stripped down ballad, with keys and voice… a great track for Jake to prove his undeniable singing abilities.
“Kings Tonight” feels like the band playing on 45rpm, compared to some of the previous tracks and while it doesn’t stand out too much, it makes for a pleasant change of pace.
“I Had Your Back” is another energetic track with edgier guitars that mix up nicely with keys and makes up for the lack of oomph, early on in the album. I wish Amaranthe had sounded like this in recent times, instead of becoming over-reliant on the great looks and vocals of Ms Ryd and Nils Mollin and letting the songwriting quality subside.
“Blood Brothers” is decidedly more metal and epic. But hold off your horses, Manowarrior. This is more like a mix of European power metal with prog and modern metal. The best of both worlds, without the Cheddar.
“Hit Me” begins with some crazy drumming that almost sounds out and out metal, turns into a ballad suddenly and at its “core” is more typical of the band’s sound but way more experimental with its structure. Its poppy chorus feels a little underwhelming, that “something”, which would “seal the deal” is missing.
“Man of Eternal Rain” is a varied mid-tempo tune, far more lyrical in nature, which picks up steam during a rather energetic solo and so avoids stagnating thereafter.
“Kings and Queens” is weird. It bases itself off a riff that one would expect from Rob Zombie or someone like that, but the lyrics are about a dream of Ancient Persia and the rest of the song, past the intro has more in common with modern day Kamelot than anything else, bar the vocals which are decidedly different. It’s weird, in a good, original way, I guess.
“Lies” is the last proper song, a mid-tempo song with multiple layers, that is melodic and futuristic at the same time, but also warm and lyrical, not cold and barren as it could very easily have turned out to be.
“Lost in Time” is offered in a “full band” performance, that’s every bit as good as the album version and I had a hard time deciding which one I liked better; maybe this one, because of the awesome solos it features. Ultimately three acoustic renditions are offered, as bonuses “Dreams are Gone”, “Kings Tonight” and “I Am the One”… which are all in all very well done, rearranged so as to fit the instrumentation and allowing Jake to show off his more “natural” and mature vocals.
Every bit as good and even better than their debut, which it improves upon on every level. “No Halos in Hell” establishes Cyhra as a mainstay in modern metal, by actually being a lot less modern than one would expect! A paradox? Maybe! But sign me up for more, if the songwriting is on such high level. Stupendously good!