Kyrbgrinder
Defiance

I’ve got a soft spot for bands that try to blend funk and soul with metal, and I’ve also got a soft spot for power trios, so I was really pulling for Kyrbgrinder when I popped this record in. In truth, it’s not as good as I hoped, but neither is it disappointing. It’s a solid set of funk metal with a few truly shining moments scattered around the record.

The centerpiece of the band (and only remaining member from the recording of the record) is drummer and vocalist Johanne James, a former member of the band Threshold. He brings an interesting vocal inflection to the hard rock sound. He falls somewhere between Seal, Living Colour’s Corey Glover and Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon, putting as much soul into the vocals as rock. On some of the songs, it takes a little while for the style to grow on you, but after a couple of listens it’s almost impossible to get the “My Heart Bleeds” chorus refrain out of your head.

The obvious comparisons here are King’s X and Living Colour, and they’re fair comparisons. Kyrbgrinder’s music is a bit less refined than the former and a bit heavier than the latter, but it plays as almost a melding of the two, particularly on the strongest pieces on the record, like “What About Me?,” which wouldn’t have been out of place on Living Colour’s “Time’s Up” or “Stain” albums. That’s really the sweet spot for this band. James doesn’t have the range of emotion of Doug Pinnick, and when they go down the heavier road, like “I Wanna Kill,” he often overenunciates and doesn’t really have enough grit to make you believe it. And he should stay away completely from the rap delivery of “Not In My Name,” an attempt at a Rage Against the Machine sound that goes horribly awry.

The band is tight, though, as a power trio has to be, and there’s great promise here. They get locked in on songs like “My Heart Bleeds,” “What About Me?” and “Monster,” and you can’t help but groove along. I’ll be interested to see how they progress.

Ultimately, Kyrbgrinder can’t really stack up to either King’s X or Living Colour, but they’re probably worth checking out for fans of either band.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
December 17th, 2007

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