Lion Music
Release date: June 22, 2005

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

James Byrd started getting notoriety in the late 1980s when his then band, Fifth Angel, started getting praise as one of the next “big things.” But like so many of those big hype bands, the promise was never fulfilled. Quality musicianship, a so-so singer, and uneven songs saw Fifth Angel release a few poorly-received albums before they folded up shop. But Byrd was a standout from the group. With his sweep picking and sense of melody, he was quickly picked up by Mike Varney’s shred-o-rama label, Shrapnel Records.

Over the years, James has released a variety of albums, some instrumental and some as a full band ensemble. In 1997, with a new label, James took his second stab with one of his projects, Atlantis Rising, and released Crimes of Virtuosity. Now less than ten years later Lion Music is rereleasing this overlooked gem, giving everyone who missed it a second chance.

This time out, there are two additional tracks: “Shot Down in Flames” and “Bolero no. 46 Mvt. 3” are really strong tunes that make you wonder why you didn’t become familiar with them the first time. Both songs are up-tempo, with “Bolero” relying heavily on the Neo-Classical shtick. Not that one should be surprised by the Neo-Classical sound if they have been listening to James over the years; he is one of the few modern guitar players to garner praises from the self-righteous Neo-Classical visionary himself, Yngwie Malmsteen.

Listed vocalist Kendall Troy (who is actually Kendall Bechtel, the guitarist who replaced James in Fifth Angel … weird, huh?) is nothing short of amazing. An all-out, balls-out vocalist who really delivers the goods, Kendall hit’s the highs and the lows with a lot of presence. One might think covering Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s “Heaven on Their Mind’s,” from the highly acclaimed rock-opera Jesus Christ Superstar, quite the daunting choice for the guitar player, but what about the vocals … Man, that is some dynamic melody to follow and Kendall sings it like a seasoned stage veteran. This track alone makes the disc a must for Melodic Metal fans.

The only tripping point to this disc is the fact that Byrd might be a little too obsessed with the aforementioned Yngwie. Their styles are eerily similar; you may need to double-take your play list just to see who you are listening too. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force & James Byrd’s Atlantis Rising … it can be no coincidence. Also following in Yngwie’ foot steps is the Richie Blackmore (Yngwie worships the mighty dark-one) inspired “Storm King;” a serious ass kicking number straight out of the Deep Purple/Rainbow hey-day.

Despite what may be an identity crisis, James Byrd plays some amazing Melodic Power Metal with a lot of skill and taste. There is a reason Crimes of Virtuosity is being given a second chance. You, the listener, may have let this disc slip by unaware the first time out, now there is no excuse to miss it again!


  • Jeremy Juliano

    Jeremy was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been involved with and has been following the Metal scene since the early 1980’s. He started out his Metal journey with heavy doses of Maiden, Accept, and Saxon. And in recent years, he has enjoyed the new age of Metal with bands like Hammerfall, Edguy, and Nightwish, to name a few.

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