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Byzantium - Byzantium CD (album) cover




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2.70 | 24 ratings

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The Runaway
3 stars This album is an unknown album, but not good enough for me to call it gem. Byzantium is a very Gentle Giant influenced band, but there's something about them that does not give me the feel that I am listening to a treat. I have to admit there are some nice songs on this album though...

What is Happening made me literally wonder, what is happening? It's a very weird song with around 3-4 layers of guitar riffs and lines, a barely audible hammond organ in the background, and vocal harmonies. The chord progression on this one is very weird, and all the harmonies and overdubs make it seem a bit forced and unoriginal. The problem with the guitar overdubs is that they are not harmonies, or even overdubs of the same thing, they are just one on top of another.

I Am A Stranger To My Life starts with a bass/guitar/mellotron opening, with drums entering shortly afterwards. The song is one of those slow tempoed, acoustic progressive rock songs which are somehow addictive and good. The instrumentation on this one is fantastic, and the vocals are very good, but there is a vocal harmony part which sounds like bands like Styx and all those "prog pop/rock" bands, so I'm not satisfied with that part. This song is sort of an abstract song, even the mellotron parts. It's very jazzy on certain parts, so it may fit to fans of the bands that use many jazz influences in them. This song is good, but not great, or amazing, or even slightly great.

Come Fair One, oh well, not my favorite song. Starts with a chorus-effected rhythm guitar part and vocal harmonies, which don't seem to be going nowhere, until the drums and bass join, but the style of the song doesn't really change. Again, like the previous track, there's a jazz part, but this time it's shorter. It goes back to the song, then to a pretty good instrumental part, sounding like Any Colour You Like by Pink Floyd, which marks the return of the leslie guitar. Average song, not my style at all...

Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me is sort of poppy but in a good way. Similar to artists like Pilot, with funky drum playing and disco-like vocal harmonies in some parts, this song is actually better than the previous songs. There is a great guitar solo in this song played by guitarist Nico Ramden, around the start of the song, and another one around the middle. The guitarists in this band are great and talented, and this song showcases it. Near the end the song speeds up and then just comes to an abrupt end.

Trade Wind is a song which is back to the bad part of Byzantium, with the annoying rhythm guitar and okay vocal harmonies. This is a short song, so it has nowhere to go, and leaves it as it is, an acoustic song. The vocal harmonies aren't sung band here, they just aren't good in general.

Into the Country is more of a lead vocal track, which is rather good. The drums here are played excellently, with a great feel on a slow tempoed track. The verse is catchy, and the chord sequence is good, and then starts a more sped-up part, which is like a chorus, and it's very good. Then there's a twin lead part with one slide guitar and one non-slide guitar.

Lady Friend is a big-band like song, and the band plays it excellently. The composition and writing on this song, are not too good though. The vocal harmonies here fit and are performed very well, but are sort of buried in the mix. There is a great tenor saxophone solo in this song played by Alan Skidmore. The song then ends with the chorus and a guitar/saxophone solo which is rather amazing. This song is great!

Now comes the final track of the album, Who Or Maybe It's Because. It's a mini-epic, starting with a great piano part and lead vocals. The band comes in and a great section starts. Harmonied guitar licks are all around and the mellotrons part is just plain great. Stephen Corduner's drumming is being showcased here, but only partially. Then starts this jazzy song ending which isn't actually the song's ending, which fades out into a piano/mellotron part, until the guitar enters in a jazzy solo based on jazzy chords, and then the bass comes in, the song speeds up for a second, with the drums, and then goes into the first band part, and again, is played excellently. Then it fades into a piano part with the band syncopating on it until everyone comes in for the final part, which is a guitar solo, with only 4 chords backing it up. The instrumentation is so good you don't care how long it's gonna last, you just want it to keep going. After a couple of minutes, it just ends.

Cheesy lyrics, and average composition are the things that can be said about the first seven songs, but the eighth song, is something else. To shorten everything I said about it, it is played wonderfully, written wonderfully, and composed wonderfully. 3/5, because only a couple songs are "good", and the only great song here is the final one.

The Runaway | 3/5 |


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