Cherry Red Records
Words: Craig Hartranft
As if he isn't busy enough with Threshold, but drummer Johanne James has found time to revive his other gig, Kyrbgrinder. Sure, it's been five years since a studio album, but the trio, featuring Aaron Waddingham on guitar and Dave Lugay on bass, deliver their third album, Chronicles Of A Dark Machine.
The term "power trio" is sorely abused everytime a band of three members is mentioned. But in Kyrbgrinder's case, it truly applies. There's no mistaking the core elements: thundering drums, sharp heavy riffs and beefy bass. These are in turn wrapped up in harmony, melody, and groove. Of course, the real wild card here is James playing drums and handling the lead vocals. Not that it's not been done before, but James has some real talent in both skills. His vocal intonations are clean and precise, easily following the melody of each song. Underneath, his drums keep the pace and beat, add flurry and flash as necessary. At times Kyrbgrinder reminds me of King's X. But Kyrbgrinder is more heavy metal than King's X.
Yet it's the combination of heavy metal and groove that steals the show. In some songs is predominant throughout like Captain America, a song where James' vocals shine. Other songs it builds coming often at its height in the guitar jam in the second half as with I Feel Blue, Chronicles Of A Dark Machine, or Oxygen. And Waddingham can deliver some sweet solos. Alternatively, there are some songs where the groove gives way to, even gets pummeled by, the heaviness, both by the riffage and the rhythm Kill Them All and I Know Why do some definite heavy metal damage. Then there's the odd man out, I Know Why, a short yet hard and heavy metal with the soul of a pop song. Yeah. Weird.
But you know what? My description of what I'm hearing could be way out whack. If played through a computer to analog stereo, which is what I do, the song titles for I Know Why, Oxygen, and Taking Control are completely wrong in the album order. It took me three listens to figure it out. I guess the lesson here is play it in a regular CD player to avoid the confusion. Otherwise, Kyrbgrinder's Chronicles Of A Dark Machine is a solid platter of melodic heavier metal.
Kyrbgrinder's Chronicles Of A Dark Machine is a solid platter of melodic heavier metal, infusing some groove and showcasing Johanne's skills as both a drummer and a vocalist.
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