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James Byrd’s Atlantis Rising - Beyond The Pillars

Label: Lion
Format: CD download
Released: 2011
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 7/ 10

Who? How about the original 80s guitarist with Fifth Angel. OK, he’s been sort of silent for a decade or two, recording a few Shrapnel releases during the mid-Nineties but some of this material was planned for that band’s second album, before their hometown’s grunge nearly wiped acts like Fifth Angel from the history books. In fact, Byrd issued a (now long out-of-print) CD entitled "Atlantis Rising" in ’91, which featured half of these fourteen tracks.


Recorded on location in ’87, these original takes include seven completely new (never released) compositions, as well as rawer versions of the material that has been heard before. Oft cited as influenced by the likes of Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth, this really isn’t a six-string showcase, more about songs. ‘Remember Love’ could be a missing/vintage Crimson Glory track (it’s that good) and ‘Angel Of Mercy’ utilizes an electrified acoustic. Byrd comments on this offering, "I was shocked to have had these masters turn up, and then to hear the quality. I had long forgotten the sessions after almost 25 years of other musical activities. Everything sounds better than I could have imagined and I think my playing was on a higher energy level than what later ended up on the (Shrapnel) debut". A refreshing blast for yesteryear, no doubt, with only the off kilter electronica (guitar synth?) ‘Waiting In The Shadows’ failing to hit the proper note, although ‘Fallen Warrior’ attempts to be TNT’s ‘Seven Seas’ and ‘I Don’t Believe In Love (Falling In Lust)’ is a simple, dated flashback to the Sunset Strip (by way of Seattle?).

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