Immediately, I’m split over this release. There is something very special about a good 3-piece. Rush, Motorhead, Venom, um, Hanson. Ok so it doesn’t always work but there’s something magic when it does. There’s no room for slacking when there are only 3 of you. Anyway, I have to temper this with the fact that Kyrbgrinder‘s vocals are handled by their drummer, Johanne James. As a basic rule, anyone who handles both vocals & drums doesn’t do either very well. When you are already using 4 limbs, adding singing to this is a bit of a stretch. Imagine Muhammed Suiçmez tap dancing for a whole Necrophagist set and you are there. Anyway, his drumming ability is not in question here. The man has been a member of the massively underrated Threshold since 2001′s Hypothetical & it’s fair to say he’s paid his dues.
No, the problem lies in elsewhere. Lying somewhere between the funky, bass-driven Living Colour & One Minute Silence‘s hybrid nu-metal prototype, their sound begs for a dynamic front man. Unfortunately James’s vocals are only really suited to certain sections and as the music swings from one end of the Heaviosity scale to the other, the vocals fail to keep up. Whilst the bass is noticeably absent of a few tracks, guitarist Tom Caris’s tone & talent more than makes up for it.
Cynical World kicks things off well enough with an up-tempo taste of things to come. Groovy, catchy guitar work & thoughtful lyrics. People Of The Free World acts like it wants to be the first single of the album but its brash, catchy chorus has nothing to back it up. That said, the break introduced by a shout of ”Woah! The security has been breached!” is, in a word, genius.
It is on tracks like I Wish I Could, that things start looking up. The progressive edge, time changes & a catchy chorus work well together before Caris drops a solo of rather meaty proportions on us. Unfortunately, all momentum is immediately lost by Get Away, which lacks the hooks of it’s predecessor. One of the strongest tracks of the album comes in the form of a reworking of My Heart Bleeds from their debut album, Defiance. This update isn’t without it’s flaws, the solo is longer but far less interesting but as complaints go, it’s a minor one.
Asking a thrasher to listen to a Nirvana cover is a bit like asking Yoko Ono to suck off a man wearing a Mark Chapman mask but even without my pre-disposed hatred towards Seattle’s worst export, Heart Shaped Box doesn’t add anything to the album. It feels massively out of place among a collection of interesting, progressive tracks.
Kyrbgrinder shine when they are hammering out funky, technical rock but even at their best, they fail to overwhelm the senses. The esteemed metal journalist & dental hygiene agnostic, Malcolm Dome describes the album as so:
Cold War Technology is a really impressive mix that brings to mind Cynic meeting Voivod in a test tube being swished around by Baroness
Were Cynic & Voivod to meet musically, the world would implode in an blast of schizophrenic jazziness. Fortunately for our continued survival as a species, Mr Dome has not heard this album. Kyrbgrinder are a technically competent metal band with a truckload of potential. With some work on the song-writing, composition & a second guitarist, they could be massive.