GET READY TO
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)
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
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
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
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
by John Kindred
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
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
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
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
8 von 13 Augen
STRIKE UP THE
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!
METAL EXPRESS RADIO (http://www.metalexpressradio.com/menu.php?main=reviews&id=1136)
by: JEREMY JULIANO
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
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!