“Lay Your Weapons Down” the new album from Canadian rock band Kiros, does everything right. It brings all the elements to make a good album, thoughtful songwriting, uplifting melodies and effortless energy, a combined mix that is satisfying and pleasing. What it does not do though is bring something extra to excite and force the senses into deep enthusiasm. Without doubt the Calgary quartet has made a fine album, impressive even, but not one that makes it impossible to stay away from.
Released through Ain’t No Grave Records on February 7th, “Lay Your Weapons Down” shows Kiros to be a band that knows how to write and even more importantly deliver melodic rock to the highest quality. The musicianship of the members is stirring, vocalist and bassist Barry MacKichan, guitarists Ryan Guerra and Jonny Lujan, plus drummer Tyler Wells at the height of and stretching their skills throughout. Produced by Mark Lee Townsend (Relient K, House of Heroes), the release offers ten faith based songs that burst with heartfelt passion, eager melodies and easily consumable hooks and diverse air punching rock energy. As mentioned, it is hard to fault the release, but with maybe the similarity to other bands being its only limitation.
Kiros began in 2004 though MacKichan and Guerra were playing and writing together before that. The time spent since working on their song and crafting their sound was a determined and rewarding effort as the album proves and the extensive shows and tours the band engaged in throughout the years, supporting the likes of All American Rejects, Relient K, Emery, Hit the Lights, and Oceana, instrumental in shaping the confidence and strength easily apparent within the band. A recent three song EP was an introduction to the band and lead to this album, its songs garnering a strong response and anticipation for “Lay Your Weapons Down“.
The album throughout, is at a constant and more than decent level with peaks of defined quality and very strong promise. The infectious ‘Broken State’ opens up the release, lively and eager it is a strong toe tapping entry into the album. The song comes with guitars that craft irresistible trails through the ear and melodies that sweep one up into the sing-a-long chorus. MacKichan’s vocals are impressive, and as proved all through the album his delivery and style is emotive and riding a wave of passion. You hear the personal and heartfelt intent of the lyrics from each word that smoothly leaves his throat.
This was the first highlight within the album to be matched equally by ‘Outlaws And Prodigals’, ‘Desperation Calls’, and exceeded by the excellent ‘Unshaken’. The first of the three starts off of a spaghetti western like trilled clash of sound to explore heart spawn feelings, luxurious melodies and wonderful caressing orchestral strings. The song is, as is the album to some extent, a grower, its class shining more one listens. The middle track is made of sterner stuff compared to the rest of the album. With a petulant bassline from MacKichan, the track has a steel and stiffer attitude to it and even with the atmospheric keys stands with defiance in word and sound. As in many tracks there is an anthemic vein to it, no more evident than on the album’s single and best track ‘Unshaken’. The song pulsates and ripples within the ear, its pop rock tendencies open and agreeable, bringing a Fall Out Boy feel, which is much better than it sounds. The song is easy, familiar in many ways and the indication of what the band can and no doubt will deliver ahead.
The rest of the album is actually very good; tracks like the punky Green Day-esque ‘Passive Through’, the enthused ‘Good Intentions, Bad Directions’ and the powerful ballad like ‘What Can Stop Me Now’ with more great string sounds, all strong and enjoyable tracks. “Lay Your Weapons Down” is as mentioned a very strong album that deserves attention and for many will strike up a strong attachment, but for these ears as strong an indicator of the definite great music Kiros will create ahead it was, it just did not make that step into bringing something exciting. Time will tell, but one feels they will someday.