Ambition is a double-edged sword; wielded proficiently, it can yield magnificent results, do so clumsily and the outcome could be disastrous. When a young band decides to divide their album into three ‘acts’, entitled The Revolt, The Trenches and The Surrender, they better have a darn good grip on that blade, lest they fall flat upon it. Calgary’s KIROS pull off this feat like knights of the highest order on their new album Lay Your Weapons Down. A blend of melodic songwriting and faith-based lyrics, KIROS craft songs that are at once completely original and yet ring with an air of vague familiarity. Taking notes from such pop-rock songsmiths like fellow modern melodic rockers 3 Days Grace and Saosin, they instill their music with a positivity that is infectious.
The triptych that comprises Lay Your Weapons Down unfolds subtly, with each song taking the listener through a journey of self-realization. It seems only fitting that the album opener is entitled “Broken State” and the closer “Something Beautiful”. In between, lead singer/bassist Barry MacKichan weaves a story of acknowledgment, acceptance and ultimately peace; it is a tale of struggle and of the civil war that rages inside the self, and of the love that comes with surrender. While MacKichan came to the table with the concept fully intact, it was through working with producer Mark Lee Townsend (Relient K), that the songs truly came to life. “He's a rock producer who relentlessly and expertly pursues real sounds. Working with him helped us to really chase down authenticity in both our lyrics and our music, and develop the sound that is "Kiros”. “
Townsend helped the band shave down the 30 songs they wrote to the ten that comprise Lay Your Weapons Down. Those songs run the gamut from catchy toe-tappers to head-banging rockers. “Outlaws and Prodigals” takes Clint Eastwood, rock & roll, and a live string orchestra and throws them into a blender. "Unshaken", one of the heaviest and most anthemic songs KIROS has ever written, comes barreling out of the gate and never lets up. “Found Me”, with its saccharine-sweet chorus, is a tale of loss and redemption that delivers its message of hope via a series of whoa-whoa’s that you can’t help but hum along to.
MacKichan met guitarist Ryan Guerra at a church youth group in 2000. The two started playing locally and realized that the music they created had an appeal that reached far beyond the local scene, and thus KIROS was formed. Taking the band up in earnest in 2004, the two have spent seven to ten months a year on the road since then, with Tyler Wells coming in on drums in 2006 and Dougie Parker rounding out the lineup on guitar. They have shared the stage and toured the world with a diverse group of like-minded bands, including All American Rejects, Relient K, Emery, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Hit the Lights, Oceana and Love Hate Hero, and have played the Warped Tour on several occasions. Despite their radio-ready choruses, KIROS is a live band at heart. “We love the interaction, energy and experience of a concert,” MacKichan muses, “ to put on public display of the creation you made in the studio and to bring everyone else right into it.”
With Lay Your Weapons Down, KIROS’ debut for Ain’t No Grave records, the band has delivered an album that is musically transcendent, lyrically uplifting and undeniably appealing. While together, the songs tell a story of personal salvation, each track stands on its own as a great song in its own right, regardless of who or what they believe in. This is music for anyone who appreciates a great tune and a positive message. When the band started writing, MacKichan explains, their only goal was “to make music that was honest, a transparent display of struggling with feelings of failure and doubt, coupled with strong threads of hope and rescue.” Ultimately, Lay Your Weapons Down is all that and so much more.