Byzantine: The Cicada Tree
Behold the front runner for the Metal record of the year! A bold comment for a bold and nearly perfect Metal masterpiece of 2017, The Cicada Tree, the new release from West Virginia's own, Byzantine and their Metal Blade Records debut. With a total running time of just over an hour, The Cicada Tree is Byzantine at their classic and muscular best. Hammer-fisted riffs combined with intricate rhythms, melodic chorus' and with searing and CLEAN vocals...that you can actually understand! YES..Metal vocals in 2017 that are distinguishable, articulate and passion filled. The Cicada Tree is damn fine record, my friends!
The Cicada Tree is the result of 16 years of blood, sweat and tears of slugging it out in West Virginia and not giving up on your musical dreams. This is easily Byzantine's most focused, mature and diverse effort to date and the 11 tracks just outright kill. Again tracked and recorded at the famed "7over8 Studios" in South Carolina with producer and engineer stud, Jay Hannon, The Cicada Tree is Byzantine's 6th release and sonically their finest hour.
From the opening and crushing power chording of lead off single, "New Ways To Bear Witness", Byzantine are off to a frantic and breakneck speed beginning to a glorious hour long Metal trip into Headbangin' Heaven. This album opener is full of musical twists and is delivered in that powerful Byzantine Groove Metal way. "Vile Maxim" keeps the steamroller moving along with another in your face 'banger, with a catchy groove of a chorus and more pummeling. Your first chance for a breather comes with the first half of, "Map Of The Creator", but don't let "OJ" and the boys fool you. Thoughtful and with a tranquil flow, until the riffage smacks you and wakes you back up. "Map Of The Creator" shows another side of Byzantine and allows for tempo and mood changes, all packed into a 5 plus minute song. An excellently crafted song with a ruthlessly catchy chorus and unstoppable melody.
The now older and (not so) gentler Byzantine use the element texture as a key component to the writing of The Cicada Tree. Acoustic intro's and outro's and clean guitar passages are all dynamics featured throughout this record and I'll be damned if these things haven't made their songwriting even better than before. Check out the killer, "Dead As Autumn Leaves" as a great example of the sheer destructive power of the Metal Blade Records, Byzantine. Their old stuff is awesome, but man have they upped their songwriting game. There is a maturation to these songs, a natural progression, that is simply undeniable. Brutality in a song is "The Subjugated" and "Trapjaw" is unavoidable. A cover song that I did NOT see coming was their version of The Cars classic, "Moving In Stereo" (cue up the Phoebe Cates Pool scene from Fast Times At Ridgemont High) with vocals provided by Brian "Hendo" Henderson. An already great tune now gets more muscular and heavy, without ever losing the original feel. A great cover, indeed.
The Cicada Tree, it is truly one of those records that you will find yourself playing in a continuous loop over and over. It only gets better and better as you get more familiar with it. Don't you love when you stumble onto a record like that? This record is heavy, filled with groove and also features some excellent guitar shredding by Brian Henderson. But Chris Ojeda is the MVP here, along with contributing 95% of the music he also delivered the finest vocal performance of his career. "The Cicada Tree" is also the debut recording with their new drummer, Matt Bowles (ex-Our Malignant Beloved) who teams up with bass player, Sean Sydnor, to form a powerful and tight rhythm section. The rollercoaster ride of songs that are laced with heavy groove to emotive segue ways all encased within thick melodies and chorus' that get embedded into your head and all without sacrificing the heavy, make The Cicada Tree Byzantine's magnum opus. THIS is the album that Byzantine has wanted to write their entire career and it does not disappoint, my Metal Brother's and Sister's.
Chris Ojeda: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Brian Henderson: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Sean Sydnor: Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Matt Bowles: Drums
1.New Ways to Bear Witness
2. Vile Maxim
3. Map of the Creator
4. Dead as Autumn Leaves
6. The Subjugated
8. The Cicada Tree
9. Verses of Violence
10. Moving in Stereo
Added: July 19th 2017
Reviewer: Butch Jones
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
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