Byrd’s latest offering is another must for anyone who loves a great guitar in the midst of fabulously well-written symphonic metal.

With Michael Flatters on vocals and Brian Hutchison on piano, drums and bass this trio rides a beautiful storm of powerful, emotional music.

Obviously, to James Byrd, making a great album and stopping there is not an option. Although Anthem is in the same direction, clearly the same overall sound, there is a definite progression overall. Never overbearing, either on the guitars or anywhere else, this album’s sleek production brings out a big sound while allowing every instrument to shine in its proper place.

This is another one you should get for your record collection.

Flying beyond the 9

Here’s a guitarist who has nothing to prove and enough sense to use his guitar wisely. This album could easily have been buried under layer upon layer of guitar tracks, but it’s not.

The guitar tracks that are on this album are necessary, but don’t go beyond that. Which is a good thing, because the guitar tracks on this album are incredible!

Flying Beyond the 9 is an album which is skilfully played and well produced. A single listen is not enough. As its title implies, it’s Symphonic Metal, but without the traditional riff-bashing you often hear in this kind of music. I couldn’t spend a lot of time comparing his guitar licks as they are rather unique.

The first name that comes to mind is, obviously, Malmsteen, but, in my opinion, he is much less inclined to showing-off (note: when you can play like Malmsteen, there’s nothing wrong with showing off) than to sticking to techniques which actually improve the sound of the songs.

The music has a clean bite to it and a powerful edge. It’s in no way related to thrash metal: you can actually hear and understand the vocals very well. All instruments are highly present and in their appropriate place.

The final track, Avianti Suite, is a nice classical piece which is beautifully executed.

Overall, I rate this album very highly and recommend it strongly. It would also make a great gift to a guitarist who wishes to progress.

Read the exclusive James Byrd interview on Guitar Noise.