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byron - A Kind of Alchemy CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.64 | 26 ratings

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3 stars Shining vocals and strong melodies make a pleasant listening treat.

The album "A Kind of Alchemy" by Romanian crossover artist byron has some very nice quiet songs and some up tempo rockers that tend to grow on you with every listen. The energy and dynamic tempo is infectious and works so well with those confident vocals by Dan Byron. The lyrics are a real showcase; poetic, creative and highly evocative. The thematic content deals with the highs and lows of the creative process of the musician as magician casting a spell on the audiences and listeners.

'The Night' is very serene and peaceful, with piano and gentle guitar picking, and very strong chord structures at first. It builds to a heavier feel though not full distortion on guitars. Dan's vocals are clean and easy to comprehend. The pace slows at intervals to allow the music to breathe, an ethereal ambience reminding me of Porcupine Tree.

'Zeitgeist' begins with a degree of distortion and a melody. The vocals are more forceful though not aggressive. The time sig is straight forward, with a steady rock beat. The riff is simple but effective. A metrical pattern locks in and stays with the melody. The higher vocals on the chorus are well executed.

'Digging A Hole' is a strange beast with cool proggy Hammond staccato stabs and a tribal beat. The vocals are up in the mix and in your face; "I have a white house a legacy from my dear old daddy-o, it has a backyard, a flower garden and a big fat ugly door, a scarecrow, I heard some neighbours bury their money in their courtyard and now they pretend to be poor, I found some good cause I will convince the others they are not secure". The chorus is a tense vocal with powerful guitars. He is digging a hole and his "deals are growing down, my goal is to make myself a fully black gold kinky crown", and it is a lot of fun to hear how the tale unfolds; "I am a nice guy, I like guns but I will not touch one, don't be afraid." The tongue in cheek banter continues and then there is a divine trumpet solo that is jazzy and cool. The strange chant that follows leads the song in a new direction, and is as humorous as the rest of the arrangement. Great song that stands out as a highlight.

'War' is an acoustically driven and very gentle rhythmic track. It is pleasantly melodic and has sweet harmonies. The mood is serious and melancholy in comparison to the previous track. The lyrics are thoughtful and reflective and a little dark; "you've been told I'm kind of scary and if you're against me you should consider yourself brave... I say the war is over, but it seems you didn't get it yet, you carry a revolver, waiting, waiting for the threat." I like the poetic rhyming throughout the album, innovative and full of creativity. The instrumental break is piano, and a soaring twin guitar motif. There are some powerful percussion patterns and a delightful bass.

'A Little Bit Deranged' is a quirky stylish tune, with cool lyrics; "Billions of wires hanging round, making our living safe and sound, Hey, Mr Edison can you turn on the light, I'm just a little bit confused from the kingdom night... We're just evolving, funny thing is we are all a little bit deranged." The instrumental is a beautiful affecting flute and the guitar motif that keeps chiming a 3 note riff. I really like this track with its infectious chorus and easy to remember melody.

'I don't want to Entertain' is a funky track with a thumping bassline and a strong rhythm. Not my favourite style but well structured with an emotive temperament.

'A Poem Without End' clocks in at 7:45 and as such one of the more complex tracks. It has a gentle vocal delivery and an engaging keyboard melody. The shimmering keyboards are beautiful, gracefully caressing the ears. The music is subtle and so well played. A very easy listening style is accomplished with an off beat arrangement. The vocals gain in intensity and power on the lyrics; "There is one love, one love, one love we never forget, everyday we try to recreate." Then the disposition returns to a more easygoing sombre atmosphere. The instrumental passage of keyboards is a pleasant touch.

'King of Clowns' begins with piano scales and arpeggios and then sinks into a tempered rhythm figure with more guitar riffs that are reminiscent of Wishbone Ash at times. The lyrics again are focussed on telling a story of how to cope with the trials of life and discovering new things; "it starts with your thoughts, then you mesmirise, you begin to see the picture in a different light, red turns to black, blue turns to white." The chorus build to a more intense mood; "madness comes like a field... the angels bow forming your wheel, you're the king of clowns." The pace slows to a very slow pace and a minimalist piano is heard over the singing; "Fastening your seatbelt waiting for a sign, a thousand years of waiting in the light, you will be promoted to a better bed, swallow the pill and save the piece of bread." I like the style again here with emotional music structures and an organic rhythm.

'The Song That Never Was' is solid rocking track with confident singing and a heavy chorus where byron take the levels up a notch with powerful lyrics; "Still I am here stranded on the shores of consciousness... humming away the song that never was," and with that the song ends on a crash of notes. Great melody and very good vocals.

'Sirens' is a song about the infamous sirens that lure in the unsuspecting boatmen, and of course the theme is not new to prog bands, but this is a good rendition; "I'm just a sailor on the sea full of sirens following me". There is a moderate tempo rhythm, with some innovative lyrics; "I just want to hear you screaming 'land ho', but you're acting like a child singing 'eeny meeny miny mo'." The accordion gives this a haunting feel, like an old ghostly sea shanty.

'Vitruvian Man' begins with loud piano notes, and a high vocals resounds; "I can feel the earth spinning round and round, arms wide open, Vitruvian man, I've lost direction, free again". The vocals on this are uplifting and it has a strange melody that is very effective. I like the way the fractured guitar crunches across the ambient sustained key pads, that are like a string orchestra. There is a distinct touch of sadness and darkness in the atmosphere. The synthesizer drones are great on this and it is so infectious and melodic that it stays with you.

'The Alchemist' is a real rocker, with strong percussion and a wall of keyboards. The vocals are delivered with conviction and have an emotional resonance. The last two tracks are moderate pop songs that end the album on a peaceful reflective note.

Overall the album is a great example of well executed musicianship and confident vocals that are easy to get used to. There is no abundance of falsetto or lengthy notes, rather the vocals have a storytelling quality. The addition of extra sounds from the flute and other instruments are effectively used. I recommend this to prog fans that like a more accessible sound, as there is nothing really on here that will scare off those into mainstream music. It has a pop sensibility but still remains fresh and original with the power to draw in with every listen.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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