NO HALOS IN HELL
Nuclear Blast Records
Release: November 15, 2019
‘’...When there’s no angels to save you
There’ll be no stairway to your paradise…’’
Boosted by the success of their 2017 debut, ‘’Letters To Myself’’, Swedish bashers CyHra are using that momentum and pushing forward with a new album, ‘’No Halos In Hell’’, and Nuclear Blast fully behind them. Founded by vocalist Jake E and guitarist Jesper Strömblad, CyHra has gone from being reminiscent of the duo's former bands to having an identity all its own. In fact, ‘’No Halos In Hell’’ is one of those rare albums that defies being placed neatly in a boxed-up metal genre coming out heavy and dynamic, yet loaded with melodic vocal hooks that stay nailed to the brain for days while keeping the impact hard and heavy. Fusing these two elements in the best way possible was CyHra's main focus this time out.
"When I was writing, I sat down and thought about what worked and what didn't work on the first album. What I was focusing on the most for ‘’No Halos In Hell’’ was making the songs more live
oriented, and I think that live ‘’friendliness’’ of the songs also brings the catchiness up to another level. I was constantly thinking about hook lines that should stick in your head." says Jake
Out Of My Life
No Halos In Hell
Battle From Within
I Am The One
Bye Bye Forever
Dreams Gone Wrong
Lost In Time
I Had Your Back
Man Of Eternal Rain
As strong as ‘’Letters To Myself’’ was as a debut, ‘’No Halos In Hell’’ is head and shoulders above it in every way. The addition of guitarist Euge Valovirta as a full member has raised the creative process to a level where, according to Jake E, "Everyone is playing to the point of what is best for the song." There is no showboating, no push-pull of the individual members trying to claim their moments in the spotlight. CyHra is a unit and everyone involved is striving to get the most out of the songwriting. This included Jake E, as the principal songwriter, being open to ideas from his bandmates and working with American songwriter / keyboardist Mark Mangold (Michael Bolton, Cher) on the ballad ‘’Lost In Time’’.
As for the unique title of the album, it was Jesper Strömblad that came up with ‘’No Halos In Hell’’. In fact, it was proposed as the title for the first album before it was completed but CyHra chose to wait for album #2. Trusting their instincts paid off in a big way. "The great thing is that the title can be interpreted in many different ways," says Jake E. "I look at it as 'You've been good your whole life; you can't be here partying with us (laughs)."
‘’Out Of My Life’’ has that very distinct CyHra sound, it reminded me a bit of ‘’Here To Save You’’ from the 2017 album ‘’Letters To Myself’’. ‘’No Halos In Hell’’, as well as ‘’I Am The One’’ and ‘’Kings Tonight’’ have riffs and melodies that sound a lot like early In Flames (thank you Jesper, as early In Flames was the best version of In Flames if you ask me). ‘’No Halos In Hell’’ also showcases Jake E's growth as a lyric writer, digging deep and going so far as to address his brother's suicide on ‘’Battle From Within’’. He calls it a personal album but the lyrics are open to interpretation for the listener. "I was trying to write the lyrics in a way that they mean something to me, clearly," says Jake E, "but I want the listener to hear the lyrics and know what those feelings are that I'm talking about." ‘’Battle From Within’’ is a topic that will hit close to home for a lot of listeners, a definite tear-jearker.
‘’Bye Bye Forever’’ is a track I can not really connect with, the same goes for ‘’Dreams Gone Wrong’’ and ‘’Lost In Time’’. Despite that, these are all beautiful tracks. ‘’Kings Tonight’’ however makes the line go up again, I love how uptempo this track is, while not being too loud for CyHra. ‘’I Had Your Back’’ is your typical CyHra track, just like opener ‘’Out Of My Life’’. I just find the drums mixed a tad bit too loud on this one. ‘’Blood Brothers’’ sounds like a healthy mix between early Amaranthe and early In Flames again, and even though these influences are inevitable with this line-up, CyHra does entirely make it their own. And that is why it doesn’t bother me, the main writers of those times were Jake and Jesper anyway, but in my head I still automatically attach their sound to their old bands.
‘’Hit Me’’ and ‘’Man Of Eternal Rain’’ are the last two tracks of ‘’No Halos In Hell’’, and for the first time in a while I am sad that a record is over. I can’t believe this is coming from me, but I would have loved to hear like maybe two tracks more. But that is showmanship, always leave the crowd wanting more. ‘’Hit Me’’ reminds me a bit of ‘’Karma’’ from ‘’Letters To Myself’’, but just in the chorus parts, overall the track is a lot heavier. ‘’Man Of Eternal Rain’’ has the best opening of all the tracks on the album. However the rest of the track sounds extremely familiar, but I can’t find out where from or what it is.
If I had to choose a favourite track on this album, it would be ‘’No Halos In Hell’’. But to be fair, every track on this album is seriously fire! Even the three slower songs that aren’t really my personal thing, are still great. This sophomore album is even better than ‘’Letters To Myself’’, and that record blew my socks off.
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Jake E - lead vocals
Euge Valovirta - lead guitar
Jesper Strömblad - rhythm guitar
Alex Landenburg - drums