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byron - Forbidden Drama CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.95 | 42 ratings

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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.

Andy Webb | 4/5 |


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