Some bands are super overhyped, while others are criminally underrated; Byzantine is one of these bands. These guys could easily be one of the biggest metal bands in the world, but in reality, only those who have their ear pressed really close to the underground know about them. Heck, they’ve been inducing severe cases of whiplash with their groove-laden brand of metal since the early 2000’s and have five albums under their belt, including their newest (and totally badass) one To Release Is To Resolve, and they’re still relatively unknown.
However, the funny part is about all of this is that The Byz wouldn’t have it any other way. They pride themselves on being a completely independent band, free from any and all record label constraints, and they thrive on the passion and generosity of their fans. They crowdfunded their fantastic 2013 self-titled album, and have done the same with To Release Is To Resolve, which is perhaps their most focused and streamlined album to date.
Everything that’s great about Byzantine is showcased throughout the crushing 44 minutes of To Release Is To Resolve. For those who have never listened to Byzantine and need a frame of reference, think the groove of Lamb of God fused with the thrashy, melodic riffs of At the Gates and occasional clean singing. Byzantine are masters of the riff, and the riffs of guitar duo Brian Henderson on lead and band founder/rhythm guitarist Chris “OJ” Ojeda are true forces to be reckoned with.
Byzantine have made strides as songwriters, and To Release Is To Resolve features some of their best written songs to date. Right off the bat, “Scold’s Bridle” pounds and pummels the listener into submission with its razor sharp hook and OJ’s commanding bellow, making it damn near impossible to stop listening to. With such a strong opener, it’d be easy to assume that a dud would follow, but no; every single song on the album follows suit. Songs such as “A Curious Lot” and “The Agonies” are as addictive as a hard drug, which is somewhat ironic considering the latter song tackles the dark side of drug addiction and the agony it brings, of which this song brings none.
The real highlight of the album, however, comes in the form of the epic two-part title track that closes the album. I defy you not to smash your head against a wall until your eyes pop of your skull when the main riff kicks in; its bound to be heralded as one of the tastiest riffs of the year. This two-part suite exemplifies the Byz’s ability to combine killer thrash dynamics with more power ballad-y parts, and is a perfect way to close out the album.
Even though To Release Is To Resolve sits at a healthy running time of 44 minutes, when it ends, it leaves you wanting more. It’s possible that the album just feels too short, but the more likely scenario is that Byzantine write such kick-ass, addictive and downright fun tunes that it’s hard not to want more after listening to an album that’s as good as To Release Is To Resolve. Even if this album doesn’t shoot them into the upper echelon of metal where they deserve to be, one things for damn certain: nobody beats The Byz!
Byzantine’s To Release is to Resolve gets…