Byzantine – To Release is to Resolve (Self-Released)Sunday, 5th April 2015
Perpetually under-rated groove/thrashers Byzantine have never had it easy. The band broke up originally after 2008’s Oblivion Beckons, and then reformed to crowdfund their self-titled offering back in 2013. Losing guitarist Tony Rohrbough and bassist Michael Cromer after that point, the band decided to enlist two new members and continue the independent route for their fifth release, To Release is to Resolve.
Despite the loss of two members, Byzantine is still up to their old stomping grounds on To Release is to Resolve. Progressive thrash with an emphasis on groove is still the name of the game, and Byzantine have seemingly streamlined their approach with much success. They can take real groove-laden stompers like “A Curious Lot” and “The Agonies” and place more progressive takes like “Justinian Code” right beside them without batting an eye. A number of soulful leads scatter themselves throughout as well, such as the beginning of “God Forsaken.” But whether the band is thrashing away or pulling things in a more retrospective manner, things never take a turn towards the monotonous. Guitarist/vocalist Chris “OJ” Ojeda’s vocal presence is also just as impactful as ever, going from throaty shouts to powerful cleans (see “To Resolve”). The songs may be somewhat accessible, but as you listen to the album again and again, you’ll notice some of the smaller bits and pieces that have been set up, adding to a more lasting impact than one might expect who is unfamiliar with the band.
Given the right opportunities, there’s no reason that Byzantine shouldn’t be as big as a band like Lamb of God. Thoroughly groovy and memorable, To Release is to Resolve represents Byzantine at their strongest, despite the loss of recent membership. Perhaps there’s a sea change in the works, allowing for the Byz to finally get their due. Fans of Pantera and Lamb of God should eat this up.