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James Byrd
January 2002
Released: 2002, Lion Music
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Rick

Following up his CD from 2001, James Byrd is back with his latest release called ANTHEM. Byrd had started working on songs for this album before the events of September 11th but in the aftermath of those events he was at a loss to continue. When he did he scrapped the work that he had done before and started over. The songs come from his feelings of personal anger, frustration and sadness at those events. One thing he wanted to stay away from was using 9/11 as a selling point for his CD. There is nothing in the packaging or the lyrics that directly links the album to that fateful day as Byrd felt that he did not want to cash in on those events. They were his inspiration.

Like FLYING BEYOND THE 9, ANTHEM is a CD rooted in 70s metal combined with copious amounts of orchestration. Byrd is again joined on this CD by vocalist Michael Flatters who takes up the challenge of Byrd’s emotional ride after 9/11. Opening the CD is “Anthem- Delt By Darkness”, a short highly orchestrated piece that speaks of the lives of those lost. Lyrics such as “my heart breaks” and “all their dreams scattered to the winds” illustrate how deeply Byrd was touched by the tragedy. One thing is for certain, James Byrd is still a masterful guitar player and proves it over and over again on this release by doing more than simply playing a break neck speed. His playing is tasteful and fits his compositions perfectly. On tracks such as “Killing Machine” and “Messages From Home” Byrd stretches gives into his more aggressive side while “Some Day” and “All I Want” are emotional windows into the mind of James Byrd and a mirror of how many people felt after such a loss of life.

James Byrd delivers another unique album of 70s inspired progressive, orchestral metal. As on his last release, Byrd uses the orchestration more as added colouring in the songs, not in a bombastic Rhapsoyesque way. There is no one else out there making music like this. It owes as much to Queen and Deep Purple as is does to the metal that Byrd first showcased in Fifth Angel.
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» Anthem
by Rick

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