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Crossover Prog • Romania

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byron biography
byron (with lower case b) is a Romanian band formed in spring 2006 by singer and musician Dan 'Byron' after the end of his previous experiences with two of the most significant Romanian bands, KUMM (already on PA) and URMA. Although it appeared following Dan Byron's need for a medium to fully express his artistic ideas, byron involves a cooperative model and highly skilled musicians. Alongside Dan Byron (voice, flute, acoustic guitar) the band consists of 6fingers (keyboards, voice, formerly a member of progressive metal band MAGICA and other related projects), Costin Oprea (electric guitar), Costin Mateşan (drums, also former member of Muse-like band OLIVER) and Vlady Săteanu (bass, replacing former bassists Gyergyay Szabolcs and Jacob Glick).

The music is a balanced crossover between alternative rock, classic rock, progressive rock and blues with hints of pop and metal. The musical influences of the band range from modern KING CRIMSON, early GENESIS and JETHRO TULL to RADIOHEAD, PETER GABRIEL, JEFF BUCKLEY and NOIR DESIR. The main features are Byron's intensely expressive voice lines, the lead exchanges between guitar and keys, the omnipresent interplay with a very active and precise rhythm section, flute solos and sometimes orchestral arrangements. The sound is rich and melodic, busy but never 'over-crowded'. The song format ranges from short, contagious songs to longer and more meditative compositions. Overall, byron should appeal to fans of bands such as PORCUPINE TREE, DREDG, PHIDEAUX, THE DEAR HUNTER, etc.

The story of the band is a success story. The debut was made in Bucharest in December 2006 and after a year of touring clubs and festivals they released their debut album "Forbidden Drama" in October 2007 under the A&A Records label. The album enjoyed an unexpected success for an underground release and for its abstract themes, dealing with inner peace, alienation, pure emotions and spiritual freedom. By the next year the band had conceived a new project, consisting of an unplugged reworking of their previous material, and was recorded live in a mediaeval fortress. The recording was released on DVD as "Acoustic Drama" in October 2008 with the occasion of the band's first solo show in a large concert hall. Due to the partnership with Nokia, the audio soundtrack of the DVD can be found online as a free digital download. The release was accompanied by a national tour of the acoustic project. In October 2009, the second byron a...
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BYRON discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

BYRON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 39 ratings
Forbidden Drama
3.65 | 24 ratings
A Kind Of Alchemy
3.44 | 9 ratings
3.83 | 18 ratings
30 Seconds Of Fame
4.00 | 1 ratings
3.88 | 16 ratings
Eternal Return

BYRON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BYRON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Acoustic Drama

BYRON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BYRON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Acoustic Drama
4.00 | 2 ratings

BYRON Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Forbidden Drama by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 39 ratings

Forbidden Drama
byron Crossover Prog

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

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.

 A Kind Of Alchemy by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.65 | 24 ratings

A Kind Of Alchemy
byron Crossover Prog

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This album is absolutely incredible, and is probably one of the most instantly lovable albums I've heard in a long time.

Progressive alternative rock with jazz and funk tendencies is how I'd sum up the album as a whole. Initially the first three tracks got me hooked, but the softer tracks that followed kind of put me off guard, but those slower songs revealed themselves to be incredibly beautiful, and full of jazzy melody, not to mention Dan Byron's intense-yet-beautiful voice. This is a prog album I'd recommend to my mother.

I'm getting a Counting Crows or Dave Mathew's Band kind of vibe from this band, but added funk and jazz tendencies, which makes it not only accessible but also interesting and full of integrity and knowledgeable writing. The lyrics, also, are exceptional. Normally this kind of sound isn't my kind of thing, but this group hits all my soft spots so well.

The funky bass solo at the end of "Blinded by Sunshine" is one of the fine moments from this standout track on this standout album. Other notable standouts include, but are not limited to: "Zeitgeist", "War", "A Poem Without an End" & "Sirens".

Besides being an awesome album, it's also a free album; it's a win-win situation. This would be a great addition to your collection of progressive rock, but among all the crossover bands, I personally would call this a masterpiece based on its integrity and accessibility.

 Forbidden Drama by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 39 ratings

Forbidden Drama
byron Crossover Prog

Review by luxuria_7

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 - electric guitar, Dan Georgescu - bass, Marcel Moldovan - drums.

Without making any compromise, byron will always rise to your every expectation, original, interesting, innovative and I so easily enjoyed the addiction of every impressive lyric.

You can still marvel that one of the greatest bands are releasing music totally lacking in commercial concerns. And yes, they're leading the pack when it comes to releasing music in an exciting, innovative way.

All in all, this is an essential album, at least 4+ stars.

 A Kind Of Alchemy by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.65 | 24 ratings

A Kind Of Alchemy
byron Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The 2009 follow-up to an excellent debut album, A Kind Of Alchemy is an album that has been described as a "grower" - in other words, an album you really don't like on first listen, but "get it" after a while. Well, not to these ears. I loved it first time around, and the feeling has only really grown since.

As with the debut, there is a huge range of styles and influences present here. Opener The Night has at its heart a bluesy, melodic feel, until the chorus comes along and blows both the speakers and your mind.

I will, though, here single out three tracks which transcend that boundary, a large one, between extremely good and utter genius.

War has to be about the finest and most honest paeon to the utter futility of conflict I have had the pleasure of hearing in many years, probably since Waters' halcyon days. Musically, it is a treat from start to finish, with some luscious harmonies between Dan Byron's sensitive and moving lead vocals and some exceptional female backing from Lu Cozma. The whole band, and especially a man who is fast becoming one of my favourite keyboardists, the marvellously named 6Fingers, create a loving and moving pastiche. At the denouement, just when you think it can't become any better, Costin Oprea creates an incredible electric guitar burst.

The longest track on the album, A Poem Without An End, clocks in at 7:40 minutes, and is simply superlative. The keyboards on this piece of music tell enough of a story in themselves, but when you add to the equation the thoughtful and, I believe, deliberately underplayed lyrics and vocals by Dan Byron, you have here one of the finest pieces of rock music produced in the new decade, it is that good. The explosions of sound add to what is, at its heart, a pure melodic joy. The utter simplicity, and technical virtuosity, of 6Fingers' work makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on this track. Thoughtful crossover prog at its very best, with a massive wall of sound to delight purists at the closing passages to boot.

Lastly, Vitruvian Man, which, again, features such incredible piano and keys work that make you want to weep at the beauty of it all. The vocal performance by Byron is also superlative, and it is in this area that, I feel, the most profound improvement has come about from the debut. When he sings to you "Feel alive, back home", all you can do is really gawp at the music player. This is a track which has, at its heart, a melancholic story, but produces such an uplifting feel as to make you really be grateful to be alive. Utterly superb, and the only petty criticism I have is that the track deserves longer than the less than four minutes given.

So, three works of such genius, if they were an EP, I would have no hesitation in awarding the ultimate masterpiece status. Does that mean the rest of it is bad? Not a bit of it. The problem is, for rating purposes, the remainder is merely excellent.

Diggin' A hole is just about the most fun I have had in listening to a track in years. Utterly manic, purely eclectic in a bonkers manner, it is out of keeping with much of the rest of the album, but in a great way. The vocals are a hoot (it strikes me as being just a fun time out), there are some great brass moments and neo world music thrown in for good measure.

A Little Bit Deranged continues the eclectic and slightly mad theme, certainly lyrically, but it is the musicianship that really holds it all together. Very bluesy in parts, and featuring some of the beautiful flute playing that so impressed me on the first album (more on the next one please!).

I Don't Want To Entertain You is perhaps the closest the album comes to throwaway, being just a little bit too knowingly self deprecating for its own good.

King Of Clowns is a fantastic rock track, with very clear post modern sensibilities, and if it wasn't a hit single in Romania, I would like to know why not. The jazzy rhythm section is fantastic, and the track closes with more sensitive piano work.

The Song That Never Was provides us with emotion and great rock in the jazz tradition that marks most of the finest bands we love.

Sirens provides us with perhaps the nicest sea faring track since Procol Harum's A Salty Dog, this one is a great track which provides the Eastern European folk feel that so delighted me on the first album. 6Fingers' accordion is great.

The Alchemist is an old fashioned rocker, held together by more exceptionally tight rhythm section work, and another candidate for a hit single, if only radio these days in the commercial world would play such tracks. The mood veers from shades of Purple, to Van Der Graaf, to the best of modern heavy prog.

Blinded By Sunshine highlights the band's strong jazz tendencies, with keys again very strongly to the fore, whilst the album closer, A Peaceful Mind provides us with a fitting emotional and grand sounding finale. The string quartet at the fore is a delight, and this track has commercial folk/symphonic classic written all over it. A great way to finish a superb album.

There is one hell of a lot going on on this album, in much the same way as Forbidden Drama. It is absolutely impossible to accurately classify, but one thing is for sure, this is a superb album, and I will again register my gratitude to Alex for introducing me to a band whose work will be playing on my system for many years to come.

Four stars, but 4.5 in reality. Just a whisker close to the masterpiece, I predict that the next one will blow our wigs off in delight.

I cannot recommend this band to you all highly enough.

 Forbidden Drama by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 39 ratings

Forbidden Drama
byron Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

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!!"

 Forbidden Drama by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 39 ratings

Forbidden Drama
byron Crossover Prog

Review by Andy Webb
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

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.

 A Kind Of Alchemy by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.65 | 24 ratings

A Kind Of Alchemy
byron Crossover Prog

Review by topographicbroadways

4 stars A beautiful and melodic Alternative Prog record. Lots of styles are explored in this record with lots of Experimental Alternative which can be found in most of the tracks. It also features lots of mellow, highly melodic tracks like the opener 'The Night' which is a fantastic introduction that sets the tone very well for the whole record. 'War' is another more mellow track, and one of the best. Featuring fantastic vocals and a simple acoustic guitar driven arrangement and a great electric Guitar solo at the end. Other songs like 'Zeitgeist' and 'A Little Bit Deranged' feature an Alternative Rock sound that feels highly influenced by more recent Radiohead albums with unusual guitar chords and strong vocals. One of the more Experimental moments on the album is the third track 'Diggin' a Hole' which features more keyboards and a Trumpet solo. It also features a world music styled middle section. This song is very energetic and would please anybody looking for a sound closer to the first album. 'I Don't Want to Entertain You' is a funk based song again with great Vocals and some great guitar work, despite being so different from other songs it still manages to fit well with the tone of the album.

The albums longest track 'The Song That Never Was' is one of the most accomplished and creative with lots of atmospheric piano and electric guitar parts and one of the finest vocal performances on the album. The song remains Progressive throughout with the Alternative Rock influence further explored into a more melancholic sounding melodic Rock.

Other songs worthy of mention are 'King Of Clowns' a more traditional Alternative track with a great vocal performance and a great piano part. 'Sirens' another great acoustic guitar song with some fantastic keyboard playing. And 'A Peaceful Mind' which provides a fantastic atmospheric keyboard driven ending to the album.

This is one of the strongest Alternative Prog albums you will find, there isn't a weak song on the album and offers a stronger effort than the brilliant debut, though features a much different feel with lots more mellow music. 4 Stars easily earned by this effort.

 A Kind Of Alchemy by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.65 | 24 ratings

A Kind Of Alchemy
byron Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'A Kind Of Alchemy' - byron (7/10)

Despite coming out with an involving and complex debut album, Romanian art rock quintet byron (spelt with a lower case 'b') instantly captured me with their first work 'Forbidden Drama.' From the first listen onwards, the group's beautiful collage of styles, catchy songwriting and passionate performance stole my heart and left me yearning for more. For all of it's strengths however, the debut album felt a bit disjointed and overly ambitious for a single-disc venture; the variety of sounds made the flow a bit of a bumpy ride. With byron's second full length project, the group is quick to solve the problems of cohesion, but at the sacrifice of the sense of discovery and some of the excitement that made 'Forbidden Drama' such a treasured experience. In it's own right however, 'A Kind Of Alchemy' is a logical development for the band's sound, and shows byron latching onto some of their better musical aspects, and elaborating on them.

Fashioning one of the weirdest and unsettling album covers I have ever seen, the artwork might falsely market 'A Kind Of Alchemy' to be a one-dimensional and whimsical piece of music that's solely meant to be listened for the sake of jest. Much to the contrary, 'A Kind Of Alchemy' is even more involved and resonant than it's acclaimed predecessor. Once again delving into political-socio commentary with their lyrics, there is no running narrative with the piece, but you certainly get the feeling after a few listens that the album flows exactly the way it is meant to be. With a new bassist in the band, it's also surprising how much a single band member can change the group's sound. Things have a much funkier, even jazzy flair to them this time around.

While still being an art/alternative rock album at heart, 'A Kind Of Alchemy' is very much a grower; each listen lends to the listener, new insights into the music and newfound appreciation. While byron has certainly cut down on the large array of sounds they used to use, there's still a pleasant amount of variety here. Dan Byron and company have harnessed their flair and tamed it a bit, but the emotion and passion that make them such a vibrant group are both still here in droves.

I know I may be swimming against the tide on this one, but I think 'A Kind Of Alchemy' easily rivals the dazzling first album, and in parts; even triumphs over it. On my first few listens, I regarded it as being decent, but it quickly grew on me, in ways 'Forbidden Drama' never did. I would easily recommend anyone who is looking for an involving piece of art rock to dive into this piece of beautiful music. byron has impressed me once again!

 Forbidden Drama by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 39 ratings

Forbidden Drama
byron Crossover Prog

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?)

 A Kind Of Alchemy by BYRON album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.65 | 24 ratings

A Kind Of Alchemy
byron Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

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.

Thanks to for the artist addition.

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