Released: 2011, Lion
Here’s one for you (us) old-school guitar guys. Anyone remember James Byrd? I do! After a great start in Fifth Angel, James Byrd continued on with an, at times confusing, blend of solo albums and a band called Atlantis Rising. Over a dozen years he put out seven releases and then kind of disappeared for a bit. He hasn’t been inactive by any means he has been doing many tribute albums and founded a guitar company, however, in terms of new, original material it has been slow from camp Byrd this past decade.
Legend has it that in early 2011 Fred Krumins (ex-vocals of Fifth Angel) found the proverbial dusty shoe box of old tapes under the bed and lo and behold…an entire lost album! BEYOND THE PILLARS is a wonderful 14-track collection of old songs that were written way back in the 80’s intended to be for the second Fifth Angel album. What a treasure indeed! The sound quality ranges but considering the tapes are almost a quarter of a century old, they are in remarkably good shape.
Fans of Fifth Angel (and Byrd) will have to get this. That band had the perfect synchronicity of heaviness and melody with a European flair, seldom seen in American bands. Some of the tracks lean towards the more catchy, melodic aide like ‘I Don’t Believe In Love (Falling In Lust)’. This fun cut could have been a big rock radio hit in the late 80’s and do ya think it’s possible that Queensryche (another Seattle band) borrowed the title? I swear Krumins sounds like Paul Sabu at times! The album is also littered with heavier cuts too with that classic, older Scorpions/Rainbow/UFO sound. There is lots of guitar based, mid-paced Metal, well-written and delivery with elegance and flair. Several of these tracks, such as ‘Eye Of The Storm’ and ‘Fly To The Sun’ did appear on James debut solo album way back in the day but these versions are slightly different. It’s fun to compare.
Admittedly, in 2011 this album may have limited appeal and might not mean as much to a younger generation of more aggressive Metal fans but the core audience for this Metal sound, (guys like me) are loyal. It’s a real find, lost albums of rarities like these are to be cherished.