Kyrbgrinder are an odd band. Their lead singer is also their drummer (and he’s very talented at both, on which more later) while their music style showcases an eclecticism that you rarely hear these days, let alone in such a hotly tipped band and for the most part their diversity works (there is one small exception but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it).
Opening with ‘cynical world’ Kyrbgrinder are a heady mix of Fear factory and creed right up until Johanne James kicks in with an utterly unexpected and soulful vocal which works beautifully but which equally stands at odds with anything you might expect from the punishing riffs pouring out of the speakers. Musically powerful, the band are as tight as hell proffering brutal riffs and fluid solos (courtesy of Alberto Flaibani) with consummate ease and Johanne’s vocals, while unexpected, are a joy, not only because he has an astounding voice but also because his approach offers something new to a genre rarely challenged over its conventions. While the first track rages, ‘don’t be so cold’ has a more melodic, alternative rock feel to it with the guitar falling somewhere between Tool’s more gentle progressive moments and Stone Sour’s brutal take on alternative rock. It’s a great track with a powerful chorus guaranteed to ignite the mosh-pit when the band hit the stage later this month. ‘People of the free world’ has no need of such niceties and it hits like a bomb with a heavy Skindred feel thanks to the metal/reggae crossbreed that makes up the verse and the gloriously melodic chorus that lodges itself firmly in your brain without so much as asking permission. Indeed this is a trick that Kyrbgrinder are very adept at pulling off, coupling satisfyingly crunchy guitars and metal grit to some seriously memorable pop-music melodies making for a memorable, melodic yet energetic listening experience. Where ‘skindred’ are referenced on the previous track so ‘I wish I could’ has a powerful and effective mid-nineties feel to it – Creed perhaps, if they’d had a good singer, but also more than a little reminiscent of the short-lived but thoroughly excellent honeycrack on the chorus.
‘Get away’ is a schizophrenic track that gives Johanne a good opportunity to show off his vocal talents without comfort of the guitars raging behind him and his drumming throughout is top-notch. ‘Through these eyes’, on the other hand, is a heads down, pedal-to-the-metal belter that shows the band have more than enough muscle when they choose to call on it, a notion reinforced by the excellent ‘my heart bleeds’, surely a single contender if ever there was one. Sadly the band do suffer one mis-step. Their faithful cover of ‘heart shaped box’, while admirably sincere, is just too straight a cover to work, and the band falter when trying to match the raw power of the original, ultimately being too polished to really do such a track justice. It’s a rare mistake on an album that is crammed with quality tunes but it’s a shame that they placed it in the middle because it disrupts the flow and the staccato riff of ‘the resistance’ only just manages to bring things back on course. Happily by the time ‘face the change’ kicks off, Kyrbgrinder are firmly back on solid ground and from hereon it’s plain sailing to the stunning closer ‘where do we go from here?’ which is as heavy and as thrilling a final track as you could want to hear from an album that has been consistantly envigorating.
Overall Kyrbgrinder are one of those bands who ooze potential. Boasting the unusual line up of a main vocalist who is also the drummer (and we’ve heard many excellent things about their live show) and a set of quality tunes that offer up the best elements of classic rock, heavy metal and alternative played by a band who are clearly extremely talented and innovative, it is hard to imagine that the band will go anywhere but up from here. Special mention should also be made of Johanne’s amazing voice which elevates the band far above the norm as his soulful tones are a thing of wonder and he’s equally adept at hitting a grittier tone when the song demands it. With over half the album standing firmly in the highlights category and only a slight falter in the case of the errant Nirvana cover (which would, perhaps, have worked far better as a bonus track rather than sitting boldly in the middle of the album) ‘Cold war technology’ is a convincing and adrenalin charged album that you’ll play time and time again.