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Byrd - 2002 Anthem


BYRD - ANTHEM (2002, LION MUSIC)
James Byrd - guitars, strings, orchestra
Michael James Flatters - vocals
Brian Hutchinson - bass, keyboards, drums


Background
James Byrd is best remembered as the man who formed famed power metal heroes Fifth Angel in the 80's, splitting from the band before the national release of their debut album. Since then the axe hero has put together a string of projects, which include numerous instrumental albums, the short lived James Byrd Group (one album 1996's 'The Apocalypse Chime') and now his latest venture, 'Byrd' a new band altogether. Byrd has gained massive acclaim as a progressive rock mastermind, with Yngwie Malmsteen endorsing his work, most notably on Byrd's 1996 project 'Son Of Man' which featured a front cover note from Malmsteen. Quite the innovator, Byrd is heavily involved in guitar research, while sticking steadfastly to the classical rock style he helped pioneer. 'Anthem' adheres to the symphonic metal niche, combining orchestral passages a la Queen (especially those multi-tracked guitars), and solos that the aforementioned Mr Malmsteen would gladly sign his name to.

The Songs
It would be easier for those fans at the heavier end of the spectrum to admire this effort. The 'at times' complex arrangements are an ideal fit for those used to belting out Finnish power metal or an Italian outfit like Rhapsody. Admittedly there's some gratitious playing going on from Mr Byrd, and for me, the best moments are when he's not going at 100mph. When the notes are soulful and carefully considered, they shine. A great example is the supreme 'Some Day', apart from the well worn songtitle. Starting out slow, and meaningful is 'All I Want', but builds up momentum in the style of Queensryche. The double kick drums and classico/symphonic nature of the track holds the interest. 'Thank You' features some cool guitar riffing, while 'Price Of War' has a regimented feel, not surprising considering the war theme.

In Summary
In summary, it is not the sort of album for melodic rockers who are looking for an 'easy on the ear' set of tunes to wile away the hours. The musical style is well played and executed, and as mentioned, is suitable for those who freak out on guitar excess a la Malmsteen. For this set of ears, I can appreciate the effort from the guys, despite the fact that the musical style doesn't move me in the way of some other acts. Good for it's genre though.

URL: www.jamesbyrd.com

Track Listing:
01 Anthem ~ Dealt By Darkness
02 Omen
03 Messages From Home
04 Some Day
05 All I Want
06 Killing Machine
07 Thank You
08 The Price Of War
09 Only Love

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