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| Virtuosity One | Revelation Z | Rock United | Get Ready To Rock | Pilgrim World | Baroque & Roll | Live 4 Metal | Hard Rock Haven | Bright Eyes | Strike Up The Bands | Metal Express Radio |

VIRTUOSITY ONE (http://www.virtuosityone.com/byrd_cov.htm)
Lion Music have seen fit to offer a special edition of the classic album "Crimes Of Virtuosity" from James Byrd's Atlantis Rising. The album was originally released back in 1998 on the Mascot label (JVC Victor in Japan), presumably Byrd's retained the rights to the original master tapes and so offered it to his current label Lion Music and also threw in all new artwork and packaging plus 2 bonus tracks not previously available on the original release - namely "Shot Down In Flames" and "Bolero No.46 Mvt 1".

Stylistically "C.O.V" saw Byrd pay tribute to his influences through a collection of original songs which all bear the distinctive Byrd sound yet show glimpses of the classic rock music of the 1970's. Those expecting an orchestrated release ala Byrd's Flying Beyond The 9 or Anthem may well be a little surprised to hear a more straightforward rock sound with just some odd touches of keyboard to round out the sound. Of all Byrd's band albums Crimes Of Virtuosity is arguably his most guitar intensive, however, Byrd's skill at arranging and creating engaging music never allow the guitar to overshadow the song. Crimes Of Virtuosity is home to some of the finest guitar work committed to analogue tape - yes analogue - COV was recorded pre digital and has a superb warmth to the sound, it may not be as super clear as Anthem but it is no less poorer for it. Listening to the albums with headphones on is a wonderful experience to hear all the warmth on the guitar and the drums of Chase Culp.

Opener Prelude In Sea is a short intro that segues into the blisering Metatron. This track is one of my all time favourite Byrd compositions and home to an almost Rainbow (Rising era) type delivery, the fast paced track gives Byrd plenty of scope to showcase his formidible fretboard skills yet show an equally deft touch in composition. Kendal Torry belts out the lyrics with great power (coming across like a mix of Bruce Dickinson and Ronnie Dio), I defy anyone not to get excited when they hear this track.

A heavy cover of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice classic Heaven On Their Minds (from Jesus Christ Superstar) is an excellent fit for Byrd's skills. Home to some Blackmore inspired lead work the tracks finest moment comes when the band are grooving on the theme - listen to Chase Culp's excellent drum work here - a classic cover.

We then get the first of our bonus tracks with the biting Shot Down In Flames. Arguably the most intense Atlantis Rising composition to date we have some scolding lyrics and blistering lead work from Byrd which follow up an excellent start which sees Byrd play on the Star Spangled Banner theme briefly - A worthy addition to the Byrd catalogue.

The intensity calms down for the delicate ballad In My Darkest Hour, another corker of a track with a good mix of acoustic and electric guitar work, Torry's vocals here are superb. The emotion again is undeniable and this is as good a starting place as any for newcomers to start.

Hendrix type chordal flurries open The Hunted Heretic. Again some beautiful guitar histrionics weave between the verses. The lyrics centre on someone commenting on life from the grave ‘But now that I’m dead - I can speak my mind, The blind see the dead - but they don’t know our kind’. Some more great wah solo work blends perfectly with Kendall’s soaring voice. James’ solos here remind me of the sonic tapestries Uli Jon Roth laced throughout his ‘Electric Sun’ albums.

Jane is up next and its the first instrumental of the album, home to a nice mix of acoustic and electric lead work the track is full of exquisite fretwork with beautiful melodies and phrasing.

Get Free is another slice of Hendrix inspired rock, the track does remind me a little of the direction Byrd took on the Son Of Man album but this time with vocals. The lyrics are equally as deep centring on religion and the seven deadly sins.

Storm King is another highlight with a vintage Deep Purple feel thanks to its bluesy meets classical direction. Kendal Torry's vocals run the range of expression and which merge well with Byrd's inspired guitar lines which showcase a great jazzy feel.

Next up in Bolero No.46 Mvt.1, perhaps better known in the neo-classical rumour mill as Byrd's Bolero. This is the second bonus track on the album and is a movement from a guitar concerto Byrd was working on but ran out of funding for during the COV sessions. Essentially you have a slice of stunning classical music with the electric guitar as the prime soloist - sound familiar? Well this actually predates Malmsteen's Concerto by a few years. Those that have heard Avianti Suite from Flying Beyond The 9 will have some idea of what to expect, but as the name suggests Bolero serves up a more Mediterranean vibe, the playing and composition are both flawless making this a more than worthy addition to the album.

Goodbye My Love opens with Byrd's perfect vibrato over some Pink Floyd-ish keyboard strains before changing direction into a heavy rocker. Clocking in at over 7 minutes the track gets plenty of time to tell its tale musically and lyrically and after a few spins really hits home as another highlight.

The frantic Going Home closes the album with full metal glory, lyrically and vocally the track also delivers the goods whilst Byrd's solo is as good as you hoped it would be with Hames really letting fly. A great way to end great album.

Crimes Of Virtuosity was a very strong album when it was originally released and I am pleased to report that 8 years on it sounds as good as ever and lyrically even more relevant. The two bonus tracks and new artwork (done by Byrd btw) make this is an essential purchase even if the album is already owned. COV is quite different in places to Byrd's work both and pre and post COV but that unmistakeable Byrd trademark is there on every track in spades, the album is very varied and really none of the tracks sounds like a 2nd hand Malmsteen as some less then enlightened critics saw fit to pin Byrd down as earlier in his career. Fans of classic rock will find a lot to enjoy here as will the guitar enthusiast.

Overall Crimes Of Virtuosity is a must have addition for any rock/metal fans collection.

Hot Spots : Metatron, Heaven On Their Minds, Shot Down In Flames, Jane, Storm King, Bolero No. 46 Mvt.1, Goodbye My Love.
Rating : 97%

REVELATION Z (http://www.revelationz.net/index.asp?ID=1555)
He may be one of the few modern day metal guitarists who had developed a style that has become recognizable as his own, and it is a shame that his playing (up until now) has really seemed to be buried under all the other shred-metal guitarists, even in the glory days with Fifth Angel. Well now is his time to arise.

Not only is he a shredder, James Byrd plays everything from quick arpeggios to smooth subtle phrasing lines to blues influenced riffs. It’s as if you take the influence Malmsteen, Alex Lifeson, Robin Trower, and Tony Iommi, taking those molten elements and blending them together where he has induced a style of playing that instead of earning him the title of “one of the best guitarists you’ve never heard of.” It blatantly earns him the title of “the guitarist you should know of.”

Originally released in 1998; the reissue of Crimes of Virtuosity is a welcome rebirth to the album that cuts through the mass of some of the “wanking” related records that have been bestowed upon us. He burns through track such as the dark “Goodbye My Love” and “Metatron, ” infuses blues elements with dark metallic textures on “Storm King” and “Get Free,” while running through technically inspired rock tracks (with some elements of progressive rock and Neo-classical metal here and there) including the emotional “Shot Down in Flames” (no, this is not the AC/DC track) and the acoustic ballad titled “In My Darkest Hour” (not the Megadeth track either). There is even a cover of “Heaven on the Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar; so his playing is all over the place as far as his riffage and chops are concerned.

With a sound somewhere between late-period Sabbath and Rising Force, the groove is tight and the songs are filled with catchy hooks and memorable axe attack that bring Byrd up to par as a six-string heavyweight. It’s no doubt that Crimes of Virtuosity will get the recognition with its new life in this re-release.

ROCK UNITED (http://www.rockunited.com)
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
26 October 2005

Yngwie Byrd's Rising Force… ehh!… Jamie Byrd's Atlantis Rising released this album originally in 1997 in Japan with a rather weak European distribution, so Lion Music decided to reissue it remastered and completed with 2 bonus tracks. The remastering helped a great deal (the album sounds even more bombastic); I'm not that certain about the inclusion of the bonus tracks though.

In case you do not happen to know much about James Byrd, he is the man who's more Yngwie than Malmsteen himself… at least that's what the negative critiques say about him. I'd rather go for a stunning virtuoso description while admitting a serious resembling to Yngwie, especially as far as the general songwriting approach and bombastic melodic metal go. Carrying on with the Malmsteen comparison, Crimes of Virtuosity sounds like the linear continuation of the Seventh Sign and the Magnum Opus albums by Yngwie. After a spooky sounding intro, the opening duo of "Metatron" and "Heaven on their Minds" showcases right away what the album is all about: bombastic sounding melodic metal topped with decent vocals and a virtuoso guitar playing. Add some Helloween influences in the vocal melodies and the choruses and you get very close. But all these pulled in grand fashion, Kendall Torrey'sd vocals are as close to perfect as possible, so is Jamie's playing. Make sure to check the lyrics of "Heaven on…"; it has a great twist in it, especially after all the Muslim-terrorist threat thing.

The first bonus track is placed right after the opening duo, it's an okay track, fits the album quite well and makes room for the first ballad "In My Darkest Hour", a beautiful piece with a very tasty nylon-string guitar part. The "Hunted Heretic" is kinda misplaced after that being another slow track, it would have benefited from a different running order. The beautiful "Jane" brings back more of the acoustic approach in the intro and turns into the better instrumental track of the album. [Amberdawn eat your heart out! :)] Personally I could have done without the stoner "Get Free" but the crybaby-like intro and the great opening solo are worth a listen. "Storm King" is too much of an early Deep Purple imitation to these ears, a good one at that, it just didn't impress me personally. Probably the weakest point of the entire album is the excerpt from Bolero which sounds most of the times like some cheapo midi file topped with a number of guitar tracks. Leave the Concerto thing to Yngwie! [He has the financial and logistical support to pull it like it should be pulled.] However the closing "Goodbye My Love" and "Going Home" restore the faith as the have the general approach of the opening duo of songs. All in all the album is more than recommended if you have missed it back then and if you are a fan of ambitious guitar wizardry.

GET READY TO ROCK (http://www.getreadytorock.com/reviews/james_byrd.htm)

By Marty Dodge

There was a bit of trepidation when I plopped this sucker in the CD tray. After several recent bad experiences with guitar wizards and their god awful instrumental albums, I was a wee bit worried. I needn't have been, this is in fact a group album from Atlantis Rising with that type of musical instrument called vocals. This is a re-released of 1998 album (with bonus tracks) and it is a rather good hard rock. While it won't be breaking any sales records; its competent stadium rock that does not disappoint. Oweing to the prescence of one time Fifth Angel guitarist Byrd, you can bet the guitars on here are shit hot. Considering the complements this bloke has gotten from Malmsteen, its not surprising that much of the guitar playing here shares some similarities with his as well as in style of the music. I believe Byrd is rather fond of Malmsteen in his Rising Force guise, which to be honest, so are the rest of us. There are other nods to Rainbow on such tracks as 'Heaven on their Minds' as well as Deep Purple on 'Storm King.' The vocal & guitar pairing on 'In My Darkest Hour' is rather impressive. Basically my first impression of this disc were way the hell off. Quite an impressive collection of tracks.

PILGRIM WORLD (http://www.hamanaka.com/pilgrim2/progmetal/bpage.htm)

Finally, the latest album of Atlantis Rising is available as remastered version. As you know that James Byrd is known as one of important U.S. guitar players. If I am not mistaken, James Byrd started his career as a member of legendary melodic U.S. metal band Fifth Angel. Since he left Fifth Angel, he has been playing for his solo careers and his band projects, such as Atlantis Rising and James Byrd Group. I remember back in early 90s, I found out James Byrd's Atlantis Risings's self-title debut full-length album. I was totally blown away by his great guitar performance and tones with dramatic neo-classical and European-sounding elegant melodic metal music of Atlantis Rising. I am not sure how long Atlantis Rising's first album has been available from Shrapnel Records, but I still enjoy listening to Atlantis Rising's music on their first one. Ok, I'd like to make a story very short. After releasing 1st album of Atlantis Rising, 2nd works called Crimes of Virtuosity was originally released in 90s later. Unfortunately, Crimes of Virtuosity had been temporarily available in the forms of Japanese imports, so it was considered as one of hardest items to find out. But thanks to Lion Music and James Byrd's contract renewals! It's been available if you are seriously looking forward to hearing Crime of Virtuosity's remastered version. My impression about Crime of Virtuosity has been a little bit complex. I was expecting the extension of cystal clear dramatic neo-classical flavored melodic HR/HM album of Atlantis Rising's 1st. Crime of Virtuosity has the influences from Rainbow/Deep Purple and some bluesy heavy rock sounds. Yeah, I mean musically Byrd has performed gourgeously with his band mates. Probably, in the course of some years after 1st album got released, Atlantis Rising's musical direction has totally changed. Although I miss the vibes and atmospheres of their previous works, the music of Crime of Virtuosity has more bold and huge rock sounds with lava-like energy, esp., from James' guitar tones and phrasings. I have come to realize that I should not look for the sounds I want. Putting aside my nostalgic desires in his early 90s sounds, Crime of Virtuosity features really great instrumentations and more 70s influenced rock energy. Of course, there have furious neo-classical burns and great band efforts. After all, I really enjoy listening to this remastered version of Crime of Virtuosity. Yes, overall the sound production of this album is much better than 1st album. I respect James Byrd's musical direction on this one, and thanks for releasing this album during the middle of 2K5. I believe Crime of Virtuosity has been one of James's important achievements.

BAROQUE & ROLL - (http://www.baroqueandroll.com)

Lion Music have re-released Byrd's 1998 album Crimes Of Virtuosity but instead of just reissuing the album (previously released on Mascot). But this edition sees all new artwork from Byrd himself as well as 2 bonus tracks not previously available on the domestic release. The album is not quite as neo-classically flavoured as say Son Of Man or Anthem but there are a lot of passages that burn with classical vigour and hark back to an earlier period in the genre's history - namely the 1970's.

Opening tour-de-force Metatron has some of the best fretwork you will ever hear, its roots are steeped firmly in the classic Rainbow mold, but there is an incredible amount of fire from Byrd as he blazes through linear lines, arpeggios and exotic phrases all topped off with his glorious vibrato - arguably the best in the guitar field. This track is swiftly followed by a cover of Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar, again a strong Blackmore vibe is the essence here but the lead lines are pure Byrd. The intensity remains high for our first bonus track - Shot Down In Flames - previously only available on the Japanese version, the track is a great addition with some of Byrd's most exciting fretwork ever. Special mention must go to the vocals of Kendall Torey whose vocals are quite superb, a mix of Ian Gillan and Bruce Dickinson to these ears. The listener gets time to reflect on In My Darkest Hour. A superb ballad that contains glorious acoustic work from Byrd and one of the sweetest electric solos he has recorded (Some Day from Anthem takes this award).

The Hunted Heretic is up next and comes equip with Hendrix like chordal flurries which also remind me of some of the Electric Sun work of Uli Jon Roth. Again its all very original and authentic, complete with ultra warm analogue production. The albums first instrumental Jane hinges on a beautiful melody refrain and the slower tempo allows Byrd room to breathe with his lead lines, stunning control of the instrument is again prevalent. The Hendrix influence returns again for Get Free whilst Storm King is classic Deep Purple in its approach but with a great neo-classical arpeggio section midway through before Byrd throws down some jazz lines.

Next is bonus track number 2, Bolero No.46 Mvt.1, recorded in 1996 and predating Yngwie's Concerto by some 2 years the track was known as 'Byrd's Bolero' on the neo-classical rumour mill back in the mid 90's. Unfortunately Byrd ran out of funding so only one movement was ever recorded which is what we have here. The track, as hinted at by the title, is much more Mediterranean than the darker classical sounds of Malmsteen's Concerto and its light airy melody is sublime. The overall orchestration is also stunning and if I dare say so, slightly more original than Malmsteen's work which owed debt to Bach, Vivaldi etc. Listeners that enjoy this track should also check out Avianti Suite on Byrd's Flying Beyond The 9.

Goodbye My Love opens with a Pink Floyd keyboard drone over which more stunning vibrato is heard before turning into a heavy rocker. Album closer Going Home sees the album ending on another neo-classical highpoint with a driving riff, great chorus and superb solo which is rich in classical texture. A classic Byrd solo is here.

Overall Crimes Of Virtuosity is a great guitar album, as mentioned there are not as many neo-classical moments as on other Byrd releases but what there is of the highest caliber. This new edition is recommended as a must have for Byrd fans even if an older version is already owned as the 2 bonus tracks are stunning.

LIVE 4 METAL (http://www.live4metal.com/reviews-311.htm)

Before I jump into the review, this has to be pointed out. If you are a fan of this unsung guitar hero, yes, this is a re-release of the 1998 album that seems to have been out of print until today. Now, Lion Music has come to the rescue and has re-packaged, re-mastered and even tossed in two extra tracks to make this worth your bones. Now, I have heard of the name before, but never heard a single lick from this so-called guitar God. According to the press release, he is being lauded as one of the best in the biz and Yngwie has given his total support to this individual. Also, he has his own line of guitars out. Now, when I read words like that, it can mean only one of two things: they are either full of shit! Or they’re  right! Guess what? They are dead on and then some. Taking my first dive ever into this man’s music, I was fucking floored when I heard the opening track “Metatron 444.” James’ fretwork is phenomenal. He is slick, smooth and aggressive all at the same time. While the musicians aren’t known, he has a killer vocalist in Kendall Torrey. His voice is as strong as Graham Bonnet’s, but sounds completely original. Make no mistake, this man is full of flash and pizzazz, but, he works it all out in such a way that you will be mesmerized for a long time to come. “Heaven On Their Minds” utilizes oriental riffs with plenty of heavy metal for a mix that is a sure fire hit. Once again, we are treated to another fine composition that will have you cheering him on. God damn, the ballad for “In My Darkest Hour” will bring a tear to your eye because the six string work here is done so beautifully. There are some sections where he plays fast particularly when he adds his flamenco influence into the mix. Everybody knows that a so-called guitar hero needs to have a solo or two and we get our first one during “Jane.” This is a power ballad and a half and boy does he play with emotion. You can feel it as it blares over the speakers. It has it all from fantastic wankery to soft spots and everything in between. I haven’t had my jaw on the floor like this in a long time. Perhaps since the first “Rising Force” album or Steve Vai for that matter. You will hear the influences from Blackmore to Hendrix with ease, but rather than duplicate them he just incorporates it into his own style and what comes out is nothing short of breathtaking. All you wanna-be future guitar greats better get this disc because Byrd can show you how it’s done. This is a must have! 

HARD ROCK HAVEN (http://www.hardrockhaven.net/reviews/cdreviews/James%20Byrd%20Atlantis%20Rising%20-%20Crimes%20of%20Virtuosity.php)

by John Kindred
Staff Writer

Comments: In today’s music scene, trends come and go. Whims of youth often dictate the flavor of the month for many music groups. And the corporate labels turn their backs on talent in favor of dollar driving revenue that comes in the form of regurgitated, reformulated concept bands.

There are many professionals in the music industry, whether musicians, producers or engineers, who know of James Byrd, the musician, artist, composer and guitarist who resides in Seattle. Byrd is quite possibly one of America’s finest guitarist, who should be more widely known yet success on a grand scale has eluded him more often than not.

James Byrd has been a fixture of the Seattle music scene since 1983 when his then band Fifth Angel, was discovered by Mike Varney and together the band and Varney produced their first record. The album was progressive for the time and met with stellar reviews. By 1987, the band had been taken on by Concrete Marketing and Management and soon landed a 7-album deal with CBS Records. The debut CD was re-released and the band was on the verge of tasting the success they had all strove for. With a deal signed and the possibilities for large monetary earnings the band went through a major shakeup, and Byrd found himself no longer in the band he had created.

By ’88 Byrd had returned to Shrapnel Records, releasing his next project under his own name James Byrd’s Atlantis Rising. Byrd went on to release his first instrumental release Octoglomerate in 93’ and followed up with his next instrumental disc Son of Man in ‘95. With Son of Man Byrd received an endorsement from a Swede who never gave any ’80s guitarist the time of day, Yngwie Malmsteen. Byrd returned again in ’96 with former Lynch Mob vocalist Robert Mason for his fourth solo release the Apocalypse Chime.

’97 brought the release of Crimes of Virtuosity. Four years later Byrd returned with what has been described as Symphonic Progressive Metal on Flying Beyond the 9 and Byrd continued this new avenue of exploration on 2003s Anthem.

In the here and now of 2005, Byrd is re-releasing Crimes of Virtuosity on Lion Records. Not happy with the mix on the CD that showed up in certain territories on the ’97 release, Byrd delivers Crimes of Virtuosity mastered they way his ears heard the music. Byrd’s guitar style is in the vein of many neo-classical shredders but Byrd brings to the table melodic thought and progressive ideas that keeps him from being pigeonholed into the often repetitive nature of the neo-classical guitarist.

Crimes of Virtuosity can be described as meaty and heavy; the guitars are powerful and the instrumentation is precise and adventurous. Dabbling in rich acoustic textures, sonic layers of warm distortion that are heard in the rhythm and lead guitar work provided Byrd. Byrd was not alone working on delivering Crimes of Virtuosity to his fans and critics. Singer Kendall Tory provides the grit and growl that make Crimes such a solid release. His vocal prowess is on par with his peers and provides the perfect compliment to Byrd’s guitar work. Rounding out the lineup was drummer Chase Culp and bassist Randy Matthiessen.

Opening the CD is the instrumental track “Prelude at Sea” which after 27 seconds takes us in the hard hitting “Metatron.” From the get go the lead guitar burns over the rhythm guitar before Mr. Tory enters the fray. A sitar and a mid eastern vocal opens up track 2 “Heaven On Their Minds,” dramatic solos abound under Tory as the verse takes off. Soon you are met the melodic tonalities of both Tory and Byrd as the vocals and guitar interplay with each other. The lyrics are strong featuring the social commentary that Byrd is known for writing.

“Shot Down in Flames” sees Byrd open with a neo-classical solo, before the ruckus of the song kicks into gear. Another political and social theme carries the song from beginning to end. “My Darkest Hour” is just beautiful song, and is the first time we hear the acoustic texture as Byrd leads us into this stellar track. Haunting, riveting the song sums up what is missing within the realm of today’s main stream music, which is great orchestration and compositional thought. The lead work here is phenomenal and expressive and Byrd proves that speed isn’t the epitome of a great solo. Lyrically introspective, the song delves into the seeking of knowledge and finding out the cost of that venture.

“The Hunted Heretic (When I Was Young)” opens with a whah pedal riff and has a loose, spacious and uncluttered feel. The buildup to the chorus is melodic. Song number 7, “Jane,” is the first instrumental track on the disc. Written by Byrd and Mattiessen the song opens with an acoustic intro and is a nice melodic piece that features beautiful acoustic classical guitar melodies. “Get Free” throws us right back into a more up tempo rockin’ song. Just sing the chorus to yourself, “Get Free,” and feel the power.

“Storm King” opens with an organ intro, ala Deep Purple. The song has a very Purple vibe. The rhythm pulses under the vocals as a clean guitar solo is played. The song slowly builds up to its crescendo, the chorus, where the instrumentation collides in furious fashion. Lovin’ it now! “Byrd’s Bolero” is the new track added to the re-release of Crimes. The song opens with a powerful orchestrated intro before dropping you into a piano melody and builds back into heavy guitar solo and then again returns to the piano. This interplay goes on throughout the song and is a masterful composition.

Haunting synth and guitars lead us into the nearly 8 minute epic, “Goodbye My Love.” Brilliant vocals, lyrics and instrumentation are a highlight. Crimes of Virtuosity closes with “Goin Home.” Another driving composition continues highlighting the guitarist and the vocalist. And after over an hour of music, as the song says, “this is where it ends.”

A very dramatic and powerful finish, one would hope that the interest in James Byrd will be peaked by the re-release of Crimes of Virtuosity. You can’t go wrong discovering the brilliant works done by Byrd and company. Do yourself a favor and discover his music for the first time or rediscover Byrd all over again.

HRH Rating: 8.5/10

BRIGHT EYES (http://www.brighteyes.de/baseportal/CDs/kritikendetail&Id==6506)

Ende der 90er Jahre wurde dieses Scheibchen schon mal veröffentlicht und zwar über JVC Victor. Lion Music dachten sich nun (vielleicht auch wegen des Erfolgs einer Band wie Masterplan?), dass man „Crimes Of Virtuosity“ erneut auf den Markt bringen sollte. Ob man das ziemlich an Blackmore/Schenker angelehnte, teils sehr Solo-verliebte, Gitarrenspiel von James Byrd und den ganz passablen Gesang von Kendall Torry im Jahre 2005 zum wiederholten Male braucht, lasse ich mal dahin gestellt. Auf jeden Fall sind die beiden professionelle Musiker, die sich auf ihr Metier verstehen und auf dieser Platte keinen Song geschrieben haben, der nicht stimmig ist. Neue Ideen sucht man (natürlich) vergeblich und einen wirklich überragenden Track ebenfalls. Ausladender, melodiöser Hardrock im Stile von Rainbow zur Dio-Phase die 100.000ste. Wer’s braucht, bitteschön!

8 von 13 Augen

STRIKE UP THE BANDS (http://www.strikeupthebands.net)

By 1980 Byrd had put together his first original band in L.A. and in 1982 formed Fifth Angel in Seattle. Soon the money started coming in from their first album and James left the band but in 1988/89 he formed what is now Atlantis Rising. In 1993 he finally met two of his favorite guitar mentors, Frank Marino and Yngwie Malmsteen and became good friends with both. James Byrd’s music and guitar playing is without a doubt some of the best in the world of Neo Classical, Progressive guitar shredding and with assistance from Kendall Torrey on vocals, Randy Matthieson on bass and Chase Culp on drums this CD is a headbanger’s feast!

Nine studio CD’s not to mention James’ appearances on many tribute CD’s and other artists recordings; “Crimes Of Virtuosity” was James Byrd’s fifth solo release in 1998 and now is being released once again due to the popularity of his music and the increase in the genre in general. Twelve tracks of highly polished hard rockin symphonic metal with multi-layered vocals and enough raw power to blow out your speakers!

With rockers like “Metatron 444” and “The Haunted Heretic” the vocals soar, the shredding commences and the intensity begins! “Heaven On Their Minds” the track from the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” has Byrd’s unmistakable strat with it’s classically heavy over lapped Hendrix-esque licks and Torrey’s vocals are huge along side of a chorus sing-along. The ballad’s “In My Darkest Hour” and “Goodbye My Love” are full of emotion, poetic vocals and acoustic neo-classic sounds that touch your heart. However even with the ballads, mellow is not what this CD is about! The dive-bombing instrumental “Jane” is a great 4.5 minutes of melodic medieval riffs and “Get Free” begins up tempo and then shifts into a laid back chorus with some inspiring wah wah blues lines. A favorite is the track “Storm King” very much reminding me of Deep Purple or Blackmore’s Rainbow with some great keyboards and classic rock sounding verses and solo instrumentals.

If you could mix up a little Blackmore, throw in some Malmsteen add a touch of Hendrix and top it off with some Jon Roth you would end up with James Byrd. “Crimes Of Virtuosity” is a classic and inspirational metal project that will satisfy and please all and any that claim to be guitar connoisseurs. I strongly and highly recommend this one!

Reviewed by Kathy


METAL EXPRESS RADIO (http://www.metalexpressradio.com/menu.php?main=reviews&id=1136)

Lion Music James Byrd started getting notoriety in the late 1980’s when his then band, Fifth Angel, started getting praise as one of the next “big things.” But like so many of those big hype bands, the promise was never fulfilled. Quality musicianship, a so-so singer, and uneven songs saw Fifth Angel release a few poorly-received albums before they folded up shop. But Byrd was a standout from the group. With his sweep picking and sense of melody, he was quickly picked up by Mike Varney’s shred-o-rama label, Shrapnel Records.

Over the years, James has released a variety of albums, some instrumental and some as a full band ensemble. In 1997, with a new label, James took his second stab with one of his projects, Atlantis Rising, and released Crimes of Virtuosity. Now less than ten years later Lion Music is re-releasing this overlooked gem, giving everyone who missed it a second chance.

This time out, there are two additional tracks: “Shot Down in Flames” and “Bolero no. 46 Mvt. 3” are really strong tunes that make you wonder why you didn’t become familiar with them the first time. Both songs are up-tempo, with “Bolero” relying heavily on the Neo-Classical shtick. Not that one should be surprised by the Neo-Classical sound if they have been listening to James over the years; he is one of the few modern guitar players to garner praises from the self-righteous Neo-Classical visionary himself, Yngwie Malmsteen.

Listed vocalist Kendall Troy (who is actually Kendall Bechtel, the guitarist who replaced James in Fifth Angel … weird, huh?) is nothing short of amazing. An all-out, balls-out vocalist who really delivers the goods, Kendall hit’s the highs and the lows with a lot of presence. One might think covering Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s “Heaven on Their Mind’s,” from the highly acclaimed rock-opera Jesus Christ Superstar, quite the daunting choice for the guitar player, but what about the vocals … Man, that is some dynamic melody to follow and Kendall sings it like a seasoned stage veteran. This track alone makes the disc a must for Melodic Metal fans.

The only tripping point to this disc is the fact that Byrd might be a little too obsessed with the aforementioned Yngwie. Their styles are eerily similar; you may need to double-take your play list just to see who you are listening too. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force & James Byrd’s Atlantis Rising … it can be no coincidence. Also following in Yngwie’ foot steps is the Richie Blackmore (Yngwie worships the mighty dark-one) inspired “Storm King;” a serious ass kicking number straight out of the Deep Purple/Rainbow hey-day.

Despite what may be an identity crisis, James Byrd plays some amazing Melodic Power Metal with a lot of skill and taste. There is a reason Crimes of Virtuosity is being given a second chance. You, the listener, may have let this disc slip by unaware the first time out, now there is no excuse to miss it again!


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