Byzantine - To Release is to Resolve
Post-Thrash, Progressive Groove
8 songs (43:21)
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Goat

I wished for great things for Byzantine in my review of their terrific self-titled 2013 album, and although they've not been snapped up by a major label yet, they have refined their musical craft in an even more impressive direction. Building on the riff-fuelled thrashings of Byzantine and incorporating prog influences to make them less like Pantera gone tech-thrash, To Release is to Resolve is the best thing I've heard from them yet. The Lamb of God comparisons are even further away – and I was far more excited to hear this than I am for the new album from the more famous Virginians – Byzantine owning a sound that is yes, still rooted in groove metal and with more than a pinch of metalcore in it, but thanks to capable guitarists Chris Ojeda and Brian Henderson, driven by the riffs. Opener Scold's Bridle proves this immediately, a mid-paced groover with a varied mixture of riffs, from Meshuggah-esque noodles to thrashy chugs, and plenty of melodic proggy moments between; not to mention the frequent leads, giving it a sound closer to Nevermore than anything.

Byzantine are enough themselves to not need such comparisons, however. The eight-minute Justinian Code is a terrific example; aggressive and thrashy initially, turning almost ambient with an (old) Opethy melodic intersection and allowing Ojeda a clean sung moment. Shorter tracks like first single A Curious Lot are just as intense and powerful, with chugging beast The Agonies proof that the band's songwriting skills aren't far behind their riffing skills. The album isn't quite perfect, however; I'd like to hear even more vocal versatility from Ojeda on future releases, because he's proved he has it. His 'core yowl is very much present and correct, but the moments where he sings are surprisingly effective, particularly the melodic opening to God Forsaken, which is practically a ballad at moments. Sadly, there is still too much metalcore hangover material, such as the end to God Forsaken; given moments like the sheer intensity of the melodic death metal-like You Sleep We Wake, it's not hard to see where the band should be going next.

Still, give Byzantine their due, even the metalcore-y moments here are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. And the best moments, the closing one-two of To Release with its middle-eastern intro and thrashing main section, leading into the doomy opening and proggy conclusion of To Resolve, are good enough to sell the band in their entirety. A great reminder that not all good metal bands are signed, and hopefully the start of a growth in fandom for a band who deserve it.

Killing Songs :
Justinian Code, A Curious Lot, The Agonies, You Sleep We Wake, To Release, To Resolve
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Byzantine that we have reviewed:
Byzantine - Byzantine reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Byzantine - Oblivion Beckons reviewed by Dylan and quoted 73 / 100
Byzantine - The Fundamental Component reviewed by Jay and quoted 68 / 100
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