"No Halos In Hell"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. Out Of My Life
02. No Halos In Hell
03. Battle From Within
04. I Am The One
05. Bye Bye Forever
06. Dreams Gone Wrong
07. Lost In Time
08. Kings Tonight
09. I Had Your Back
10. Blood Brothers
11. Hit Me
12. Man Of Eternal Rain

RATING: 8/10

It was a little surprising that CYHRA's 2017 debut album, "Letters to Myself", didn't have a greater impact. With former AMARANTHE frontman Jake E. and ex-IN FLAMES guitarist Jesper Strömblad on board, this was always going to be a band with massive melodies and gleaming hooks in plentiful supply, but when the album was released there was a sense that people weren't quite ready for something that was both incredibly accessible and weirdly difficult to pin down. CYHRA have effectively continued with the same formula for "No Halos in Hell", but it's even more obvious this time around that the Swedish/German/Finnish quartet have struck upon something subtly distinctive here: neither power metal not melodic rock, the songs on "No Halos in Hell" rattle along on different rails to the vast majority of superficially like-minded metal bands out there. With an obvious debt to the '80s, but with a sound that adheres to state-of-the-art sonic values, CYHRA deserve to achieve lift-off at the second time of asking.

If you've ever found yourself pining for the days before IN FLAMES got side-tracked by the metalcore scene, Strömblad's inimitable grasp of catchy riffs and finely honed and snappy song structures is plastered all over "No Halos in Hell". With Jake E.'s soaring vocals giving every chorus the sparkly toothed hard sell, the likes of "Out Of My Life" and "I Am The One" transcend any association with European trad metal and instead sound like some freshly minted and subtly futuristic melodic metal prototype. Therein lies the problem, of course: CYHRA don't really fit in anywhere, despite the self-evident ear-friendliness of their material. But when you've got songs as instantly memorable and vital as "Battle From Within" or ballads as lushly dramatic as "Lost In Time", being slightly out of synch with the rest of the world doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Everyone else will catch up eventually, I'm sure.


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