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byron Forbidden Drama album cover
3.95 | 42 ratings | 9 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

Act I
1. Fake Life (7:00)
2. Forbidden Drama (4:26)
3. Crossroads (4:27)
4. Watercolor (3:11)

Act II
5. Losing Control (5:01)
6. The Dawn Of A Drunk Bum (5:32)
7. Far Away (5:49)
8. Annoying Detail (5:27)

9. On The Road (5:59)
10. Essential Piece (3:48)
11. Blow Up My Tears (6:00)
12. No Man's Land (5:39)

13. Toast Proposal (5:15)

Total Time 67:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Dan Byron / vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, composer (excl. 4) & producer
- Costin Oprea / electric guitar
- Sergiu Mitrofan "6fingers" / keyboards
- Gyergyay Szabolcz / bass
- Cristi Mateşan / drums

- Mihai Balabaş / violin
- Iustin Galea / violin
- Andreea Retegan / viola
- Alexandru Gorneanu / cello
- Miron Grigore / oboe
- Rodica Gondiu / esraj
- Peter Michaud / spoken word (1)
- Iulian PÔslaru / backing vocals (12)
- Codruţ Dumitrescu / backing vocals (12)

Releases information

Artwork: Vertical

CD A&A Records ‎- 160636 (2007, Romania)

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BYRON Forbidden Drama ratings distribution

(42 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BYRON Forbidden Drama reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by seventhsojourn
4 stars Forbidden Drama is the first album by Romanian 5-piece band byron (spelt with a lower case b). They are led by singer and main songwriter Dan Byron who also plays acoustic guitar and flute. Please note that during the late '90s there was a Romanian heavy metal band called Byron; the only connection with this band is that Dan Byron was also their vocalist. The current byron's debut album features a novel concept based on the human condition and is arranged into 3 acts and an epilogue, with the songs effectively representing scenes in a stage play. It features an eclectic mix of styles, blending alt-rock with prog, blues, metal and jazz. There's even some Baroque-pop with ON THE ROAD featuring a string quartet. ESSENTIAL PIECE features somewhat more exotic instrumentation with guest musician Miron Grigore playing an esraj, a bowed string instrument found in parts of India. Then there's the likes of the atmospheric WATERCOLOUR with its sparse arrangement of vocals and electric piano.

Most of the songs follow a standard verse/chorus format with catchy hooks, but the variety between songs prevents things from sounding repetitive. I can hear influences as diverse as Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, 10cc, The Smiths and Dire Straits. Maybe that's 'cos I've got cloth ears though! As far as the vocals go Dan Byron has a fairly distinctive voice that may not be to everyone's taste, although his slightly guttural tone is used to good effect on the pseudo-metal of LOSING CONTROL. Lyrics are in English, which is handy given the conceptual nature of the album and include themes of hedonism, consumerism, intolerance, war etc. Readers can check the byron page here on ProgArchives, where has added a comprehensive biography and a link to the band's official website. There you can listen for free to their entire discography. Nice one!

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Despite a 2007 release, Forbidden Drama, the first album from Romanian's byron (small b apparently correct) has only recently come to my attention (thanks Alex). Despite it being their debut it's clear that we're listening to a band of experienced players, both as musicians and in the mature nature of the compositions.

byron don't sit easily in any musical cateogory, their placement in crossover here on PA being the perfect choice for their music which draws from a diverse range of styles. With only occasional glimpses of any prog influences the band owes more to the alternative rock scene and pop. Vocalist Dan Byron when not in rock singer mode has a bit of Bryan Ferry about him. Sticking with a seventies connection Be-Bop Deluxe come to mind at times, not necessarily sounding like them but in approach with their more sophisticated rock template. The songs are well constructed with good dynamics and they clearly have an ear for a strong melody. Crossroads captures the band in more restrained mode; a lovely ballad but at the opposite end of the spectrum Losing Control has a hard hitting staccato riff. While musical complexity is not a priority there's always a surprise around the corner to keep things interesting. On Losing Control it comes when the power quotient is dropped to give way to a lovely restrained flute solo. Another highlight is Blow Up My Tears with its pleasing drum groove, a kind of shuffle, organ overlaid with acoustic guitar forming the foundation and another strong hook to cap it off.

I'm very impressed with Forbidden Drama and everyone can hear it and it's follow up A Kind Of Alchemy on the bands website. Well worth giving them a chance.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Forbidden Drama' - byron (8/10)

Having been introduced to this Romanian art rock group by an esteemed colleague, I was interested to hear what this group would sound like. Being from a country that's certainly not known for their export of progressive music, I had never even heard of these musicians before they were brought up to me, and little idea of what they would sound like to boot. However, from my first listen onwards of this impressive debut release, I must say; byron (lower case 'b' intended) has a new fan with me.

Taking modern frustration with the social ills of consumerism, capitalism and cultural shallowness and channeling it into music, the artists that make up byron have conjured up a theatrical production that while certainly not sounding completely 'out there' and groundbreaking, is still a fresh and intelligent addition to the world of modern progressive rock. While having a unique sound under their belt, comparisons to such bands as Porcupine Tree and Anathema are not entirely unreasonable... However, the existing fanbase of these bands gives byron a real opportunity to spread their wings and take off, if given the right exposure.

The music itself is alot more song-based than alot of other progressive acts. Skirting the edge of alternative rock, cabaret and a heave of other styles, byron melds them all together into something cohesive and solid. The frontman of this group, Dan Byron is definately seasoned in the realm of recording and composition. Having done work in the established Romanian acts Kumm and Urma, Dan and his talent had already matured by the time he got to this stage in his career. A strong vocalist all his own, Byron (the man) delivers a unique vocal performance here, in no small part due to hints of his Eastern European accent. However, the lyrics (which at times, are especially profound, considering the topics covered) are very clear to the ear.

The instrumental skill of the musicians is very tight, although the constraints of alternative/art rock seem to limit their ability to really plant themselves as 'virtuosic.' However, the real focus here is on that of beautiful melodies and catchy hooks. Some of the strongest tracks like 'Dawn Of A Drunk Bum' and 'No Man's Land' are made even better by their socially conscious lyrics, coupled with a really good band effort. 'Essential Piece' could fit very well on the radio with an upbeat, even poppy guitar lick that drives the song alongside some strong-as-always vocal work.

While the music that is 'Forbidden Drama' rarely blows me away and the album flow could be a bit better (some of the track transitions are a bit choppy,) byron has crafted an exceptionally strong first release with this album. A refreshing focus on actual songwriting as opposed to typical prog excess gives this band a special place in the realm of modern prog. While 'Forbidden Drama' is not perfect, the potential of this talented group is evidently clear, and I await their future musical offerings eagerly.

Review by progkidjoel
4 stars A great debut from a great band.

Romania's 'byron' present a fantastic blend of wonderful instrumentation, conceptually driven writing and a diverse blend of modern and classic prog rock, amongst other stylings. The result is this album, a great journey through many worlds of music, emotion, atmosphere and (forbidden!) drama. The theatrical sound and genuine tone of the album make it both easy and hard going; a really great mix, which can be enjoyed in the background, or up front with full focus. It's really great and refreshing to hear a band release a full-fledged, strongly focused and driven album as a debut, rather than a compilation of half-baked demos with no real identities as many other bands have.

The album has a very song by song driven feel, although always sticks closely to its concept lyrically. The band's sound and style is well developed for a first album, and you can easily hear a signature sound carrying through the whole album, something which many other bands struggle to build for years. Most of the album follows a more straight-up rock format as far as song writing goes, and the catchy hooks help to make the album so fun, and at the same time, serious in sound. The stand out tracks for this reviewer are No Man's Land and Far Away, although the entire album is lovingly forged and there are no real moments of weakness.

All in all, a great debut, easily worthy of 4 stars.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars I had a request (more like an order heh heh) to write a review for this album and had been meaning to for some time, just never getting to it.

First off, I'd like to say that this is the first Romanian band I've ever heard and I was a bit surprised at what I heard. I wasn't expecting something this mainstream.

The music itself is alot like Dredg (as stated in the band biography) but a little heavier and more moody. It is often times engaging but at the same time easily accessible (in prog circles at least). Crossover is a good way to describe the music, I'll leave it at that.

We start off with Fake Life which is a good introduction to the overall sound of the album, melodic semi-heavy Dredg-like prog. The title track is somewhat reminiscent of Porcupine Tree but a little more proggy then them, more complex instrumentation (another kind of highlight of the album). Crossroads is a nice acoustic break which serves it's purpose well, to relax you. It does slowly build into a pretty epic sounding song though. Watercolor is a soothing piano track which I think symbolizes depression. Losing Control is a particularly heavy track (symbolizing a sort of downward spiral) that also brings back the feelings of Dredg and The Dawn of a Drunk Bum is sort of a theme for hitting the "bottom of the barrell" of life. Far Away is another semi-calm track which explodes into a heavy electric synth filled instrumental. Annoying Detail is another acoustic track which sounds quite a bit like Crossroads but with maybe a little more emotion. On the Road is a fairly moody track which reaches almost a whimsical feeling at points, interesting song this is. Essential Piece is a very Porcupine Tree-esque song but still has byron written all over it in the flavor. Blow Up My Tears is another fairly heavy track, in this one the vocals have some extreme feeling. No Man's Land is calm pop song that has some beautiful piano interludes and at times sort of thrashes at you (real calm, I know, but the core of the song is). Toast Proposal is an excellent closing track, starting with just the vocals but gradually gains instruments and a nice pop melody.

Through that mass of describing the songs, you'll find that this album is a very well put together effort. I give them four stars for this excellent album and that may change to five in the future.

For fans of Dredg and likely Porcupine Tree (wait, didn't the band bio say that?)

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Modern prog at a high point.

With many modern progressive bands, there are one of two things that happen: they go all out to try to make this massive prog output in the spirit of the "golden age," or they end up making a mushy wheel of cheesy "pseudo-prog," neither of which tend to go very well. Byron (supposed to be a lowercase "b," but capitalized for grammatical purposes), a young Romanian band, seem to find a spectacular medium of this, creating a very tasty mix of popularly acceptable and very catchy melodies and a beautiful progressive outlook, making for an exceptional crossover prog album. Forbidden Drama is the debut album for the band, yet it seems like these guys are recording and writing veterans, whipping out track after track of really magnificent material. The concept is about the band's gripes about consumerism and capitalism, and the glory of individualism.

Fake Life opens up with some sound effects before breaking into to rolling riffing that really meshes well with the melodies. The style of on-off riffs seem to make a musical motif on the album, and certainly an excellent one. The verse and chorus breakdowns are spot on, and the melodic and rhythmic harmonizations between each instrument is bordering on perfection. The instrumental section blends a prefect amount of psychedelics and great harmonizations, making for a really cool ride. Overall, the first track is certainly a fantastic opener to this fantastic band.

The title track has some more fantastic riffing and licking to open up the album. The melodies again are spot on, with some really great lyrics, also. The chorus is a fantastic breeding ground for earworms, lodging the catchy melodies in your head for hours. The instrumental section offers the listener their first taste of the exceptional flute work that peppers the album, and gives a superb dynamic to the album.

Crossroads opens with some nice acoustic chords and some really nice piano harmonizations. Again the melodies are heartfelt and carefully crafted, transitioning into a really great and beautiful chorus with some really great moments. The whole track keeps a spectacular feel to it, with a really inspirational outlook. Overall, another spectacular part of this album.

Watercolor is the first piano-opened track, with some really cool electric piano like effects, making for a really cool feel. The song is very mellow the whole way through, with mostly just piano and vocals the whole track. Overall, the track is a very somber and relaxing track, making yet another great dynamic to the album.

Losing Control is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Pulling out the real rockability the band can utilize, the opening riff is killer. Keeping a really superb stamina throughout the track, the song has one of the better compositional and instrumental performances of the album. Again hearing the flute makes another great dynamic to album, even adding some really cool Latin Jazz feels.

The Dawn Of A Drunk Bum is a cool track, with some different compositional qualities to it. Although it maintains the formula the band seems to use with opening riff, melody, verse, chorus, etc, the feeling of the song has a slightly different atmosphere, adding more of a alt rock feel than any of the other songs do. Overall, the song offers a more popularly leaning, but still great, track.

Far Away is a very mellow and funky track. Utilizing some classic funk/blues techniques for guitar and bass, the song has a great funk feel. Of course, that is only the beginning. The song slowly builds until a great climax not like any of the compositions on the album so far. The section, about 4 minutes into the song, makes this track another one of my favorite. Mixing a superb backing synth and some rhythmically genius guitar and drum work, the outro is pure genius! Another superb track.

Annoying Detail is a very chilled out song, with some more funk/rock prog crossovers. This track returns to Act I's exceptional melodic work and some really superb backing harmonizations and little compositional candies. Although it is not the best track on the album, it does offer some great treats to the listener.

On The Road is a nice ballad type song, with a mellow intro before breaking into into a slowly building melodic dictation of music. Eventually, the song breaks into an epic and inspirational ballad type movement, making this song one of the more musically emotional. Overall, it is not my favorite, but has some very good qualities going for it.

Essential Place is one my favorite tracks on the album. Opening with a cool poppish guitar lick, it soon is harmonized by a really cool violin melody and then some great vocal melodies. Throughout the song quick little bits of really greats melodic output pepper the track with a jovial ambiance. The song's happiness seems to rub into the atmosphere, making everything around it just seem.... happier! Such a great track.

Blow Up My Tears starts with a drumming piece (a drummer's dream), and sets up a significantly more minor tone than the previous track. The song, having a much more traditional song structures, relies on the progressiveness of the music for the progressiveness of the track, which lacks somewhat, but still has that byron-esque art rock feel. Overall another good track.

No Man's Land is the lyrical turning point of the concept album, talking about a land free of the societal pressures people feel every day and how the place is a "no man's land" for those who live by the consumerist lifestyle. Musically, the song has another traditional structure, but still offers a really nice output. Each piece of the band contributes the perfect amount to make a nice ending piece for the third act of the album.

Toast Proposal, the "epilogue," sums up most of the musical motifs of the album. This track now gives each member of the band a opening on at least one song, opening with a nice A Capella performance. Overall, the song acts as a very nice closer to the album, summing up the album and tying it off; closing the album superbly.

ALBUM OVERALL: Forbidden Drama, the debut of byron, is certainly a modern prog gem for all to hear. Although the band hails from the Eastern European nation of Romania, a country not often heralded for their exceptional prog, this is certainly an exception. Throughout the album, the band peppers in countless dynamics and compositional treats; the entire album is brimming with great feels, dynamics, and atmospheres. Although many of the songs follow a near cookie cutter formula, each track had its own little treat, making this album a great addition to any prog collection. 4+ stars.

Review by lazland
4 stars Romanian prog rock anybody? No, I didn't think that this was a sentence that most people reading this review would automatically have in their thoughts, but that, of course, is the beauty of this site - the opportunity to experience wonderful new music and also realise that prog rock is not confined to the "usual" countries.

This is the debut album by Byron, released in 2007, and a project led by Dan Byron, who provides vocals, guitar, and flute. More on that wonderful instrument later.

It is an extremely impressive debut, and one that covers such a wide range of the rock spectrum and influences that it could just about qualify as the archetypal Crossover Prog album.

We have some pounding rock anthems, and for a good example, look no further than the opener Fake Life, which, by the way, features some of the most relevant and socially aware lyrics I have had the pleasure to listen to in years. At the other end of the spectrum, we have pure mellow joy in tracks such as Far Away.

There are all sorts of influences going on in this highly original piece. Certainly, Byron cannot be anything else other than a fan of the scene we called Art Rock in the 70's, but this is fused with a deep sensibility of the craft of producing music that is warm and welcoming, rather than so eclectic as to alienate a large proportion of an audience. There are also some extremely good jazz passages here, the keyboardist (the marvellously named 6fingers) is never anything less than accomplished, and I particularly love his piano work on tracks such as On The Road, there is richly dark European folk, and, in between, we have pure pastoral symphonic prog, with a massive nod to the past, but recorded and produced in such a fashion as to never be described as neo prog. In Essential Piece we also have a track that, in a just world, could have been a hit single.

Pure proggers will also love the flute playing of Dan Byron. It is simply divine, and the opening piece we hear on the title track is a huge and lovely contrast to what preceded it. The flute is used as it was in the finest tracks of yore - as a part of the narrative, and I swear that I have not heard a better use of this lovely instrument since the Gabriel & Anderson years. It is as good as that. Annoying Detail could well have been played by Anderson to these ears, had I not known better.

The concept of the album is clearly socio-political, and I like and agree with Byron's obvious distaste of much of what passes for modern society. It gives us, by the way, one of the finest song titles of all time, The Dawn Of A Drunk Bum. There are many highlights, but my favourite is the excellent No Man's Land which mixes all of the various moods on the album into one track, features a beautifully intricate flute solo, and has passages that simply soar before taking you back down into a mellow place. There is one hell of a lot packed into a mere five and a half minutes. Not very far behind is the incredibly lovely epilogue, Toast Proposal, which closes the album, five minutes of unplugged heaven with some lovely vocals, lyrics, and playing.

Original and extremely good, this has to be one of the strongest debuts by an outfit in many years, I have no hesitation in awarding a very strong four stars. Would they manage to keep this going on the follow-up? I am glad to say in advance of my next review that the answer is absolutely, and then some.

My thanks to Alex for introducing me to this wonderful band.

To close, Romanian Prog anyone? Well, as the late, great, Alan "Fluff" Freeman would surely have said if he had heard this great album - "not 'alf!!"

Review by colorofmoney91
3 stars I decided to listen to byron's debut album after being thourougly impressed with their sophomore effort. "Forbidden Drama" is a fantastically emotional and atmospheric album, but it just doesn't gel with me as much as their "A Kind of Alchemy". It seems that since this album was released, the band's songwriting skills have improved greatly, but that's not to say that this album doesn't have great songs on it.

On this album, the hooks don't hook as well and I have a hard time retaining any of the music in my memory, which is something I don't consider to be a good thing. But, as in their next album, there is a diverse array of styles (alt rock, jazz, blues) present on this album, so anyone is bound to find something enjoyable on this album, not to mention that it is still quite catchy in certain spots. Strangely enough, I feel like this album is more in the vein of prog than their next album. The musicianship on this album is undeniably great, and that is made obvious upon first listening of the album but is reinforced by the terrific solos scattered throughout.

Most notable tracks: "Fake Life", "Losing Control", "The Dawn of a Drunk Bum", "Far Away", "Blow Up My Tears", "Forbidden Drama".

Although less enamored by this album than the follow up album, this is still undoubtedly a terrific crossover prog album. I'd definitely recommend this to someone who likes good music in general, but I honestly think I could suggest this to anyone and they would find something delightful about it, though nothing really stands out to me.

Latest members reviews

5 stars A very nicely crafted album, the debut of byron in 2007. The band was founded in 2006,and now byron is Dan Byron - vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, 6fingers - keyboards, acoustic guitar, vocals (or hummings, as it is so nicely written on the back of their last album, 'Perfect'), Costin Oprea - ele ... (read more)

Report this review (#430508) | Posted by luxuria_7 | Sunday, April 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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