Byzantine-The Cicada Tree

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always rooting for the underdog.  In the metal world, there are a ton of bands who for a myriad of different reasons never seem to become as big as I personally feel they should be.  Byzantine is one of those bands who has put out solid album after solid album throughout their career and they have just seemed to miss out on breaking into mainstream/commercial success.  Part of it may be due to the fact that they hail from West Virginia.  Part of it may be that they really don’t look the part of a metal band.  However, viewing them solely from the musical production they have amassed over the years, there is no reason why these guys shouldn’t be one of the bigger metal bands going today.  I know that’s a bold statement, but I stand by it 100%.

Byzantine has always crafted their own brand of new era thrash coupled with a melodic accent that blends into a unique sound.  Vocalist/guitarist Chris Ojeda is equally capable of delivering a harsh death metal-esque vocal and an angelic clean vocal within the same song.  The easiest comparison to make is that they sound like Lamb of God with more melody.

The latest album is a bit of a sneaky one.  The first time through I wasn’t really sure that it measured up to some of their past work.  However, the second listen revealed a very nuanced album.  This one is a little more on the melodic side than previous releases.  A lot of the songs start out a little softer and then build into a crushing wall of metal.  There are simply some very atypical rhythms throughout the album that result in a final product that challenges the listener.  The song structures don’t force feed the listener, but rather invite the listener to have a seat and spend some time to fully embrace the journey.  I have a feeling that this is an album that is going to reveal new aspects will each listen and I think this is one that will stand the test of time.  It is definitely an album that I haven’t forgotten about 5 minutes after spinning it.

4.5 flip flops out of 5

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