Lion Music 2011
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Here's yet another "treasures from the archives"-kind of an album. James Byrd was one of the founding members of Fifth Angel, a fine melodic metal band that released two albums in the late eighties. Byrd left the band before the second album, and resurfaced a couple of years later with Atlantis Rising, who released their first album in 1990. This album includes recordings that were done before the first album. Apparently they were recently discovered from a box of tapes in the singer's garage, and thought to be so good that they needed to be released for all the world to hear.
So, what do we have here? Seven not very polished demos of songs that later appeared on the band's first real album, and seven other songs from the era if I'm not mistaken. Musically Byrd's music is somewhere between the neo-classical style of Yngwie Malmsteen and Dokken, with a lot of similarities to Fifth Angel of course. Byrd's definitely a capable songwriter and a bit of a guitar hero, but it's not him who steals the show. That "honour" is reserved for vocalist Freddy Krumins. He has a considerable range, but his voice is really an aqcuired taste. He sounds like the bastard son of Lizzy Borden and King Diamond, and at times his voice is like fingers on the chalkboard for my ears. It's all a question of taste, but I just don't like the guys' voice.
Musically there are some rather fine songs among the 14 tracks, like the highly melodic "Remember Love" and "After The Fire", both later re-recorded for the first JBAR album. Then again, "Waiting In The Shadows" with its' Alice Cooper/King Diamond styled horror theme is pretty horrible, but thankfully it's an one-off. Still, the vocals pretty much ruin all these songs for me, and the muddy production doesn't do any favours for the band either. Maybe a re-issue of the first album with these demos as a bonus would have been better. I just don't enjoy listening to inferior demo versions, no matter how spirited or electrifying the individual performances on the tracks are. Again, review mathematics: 8 for the songs, 4 for the sonic quality... it's 6 then.