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Byzantine (band)

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Origin Charleston, West Virginia
Genres Groove metal, thrash metal, progressive metal
(see below)
Years active 2000–2007, 2011–present
Labels Prosthetic Records 2004-2007, Independent 2011-present
Members Chris "OJ" Ojeda
Brian Henderson
Sean Sydnor
Matt Wolfe
Past members Tony Rohrbough
Chris "Cid" Adams
Michael "Skip" Cromer

Byzantine is a heavy metal band from Charleston, West Virginia that formed in 2000. The band consists of frontman and co-founder Chris "OJ" Ojeda (rhythm guitar, vocals), Brian Henderson (guitar), Matt Wolfe (drums) and Sean Sydnor (bass guitar). They have released three studio albums on Prosthetic Records and one independently. Byzantine are widely hailed as the most underrated band from the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement. Due to various circumstances the band reported their split on January 26, 2008, 1 day after the release of their third album,[1] then reunited in 2010. Byzantine is known for its unique sound, modern and "forward thinking" musical style, which explores different musical territories and song structures. On January 26, 2012 the band announced that they are recording a new album, 4 years after they disbanded.


Byzantine formed in the spring of 2000[2] by bassist Chris "Cid" Adams, drummer Jeremy Freeman, guitarist Tony Rohrbough and vocalist/guitarist Chris "OJ" Ojeda after their former bands New Family and Temper split up.[2] Byzantine wrote four songs and shortly after, Jeremy Freeman left. Seven more songs were written and 2000/2001 demo was recorded and self-released in 2001. Byzantine became a part of the local West Virginia heavy metal scene.[2]

Subsequently the band recruited local musician Matt Wolfe as a drummer. Ten songs were recorded in 2003 in the Broadmoor Studios in Huntington, West Virginia and released as The Broadmoor Demo, featuring Matt Wolfe on drums. This aroused the interest of Lamb of God's drummer Chris Adler and Byzantine had a short East Coast tour with Lamb of God, which helped them to obtain new fans and a deal with Prosthetic Records.[2]

Soon after Byzantine released their debut album The Fundamental Component in February 2004, which created the band's trademark sound. Subsequently Byzantine toured with Lamb of God and Shadows Fall as well as played the main stage of New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in 2004 (and later also in 2006).[2] Chris "Cid" Adams was soon fired and Byzantine returned to the studio to record their second album, 2005's ...And They Shall Take Up Serpents, with Tony Rohrbough taking over bass duties in the studio. This album received high praise both abroad and domestically.[2]

A fan-oriented DVD Salvation, featuring exclusive material, scenes, in-studio clips, interviews, the uncut version of the "Jeremiad" music video and the performance of the never-before released "Cradle Song", have been released in 2007 and the number of Byzantine's fans grew.[2] On January 22, 2008, the band's third studio album Oblivion Beckons was released.[3] The band announced their break up 1 day after the release.[1]

In March 2010, the band reunited and played local shows around their native state. The band members insisted that they had returned with the intention of carrying on with Byzantine, although it was announced on August 17, 2010, that original guitarist and founding member Tony Rohrbough would not be remaining with the group. Brian Henderson filled the role.[3]

On January 26, 2012, it was announced that the band has reunited with original lead guitarist, Tony Rohrbough and plans to record another album. The album will be self-funded.[4]

Musical style and lyrical themes[edit]

Byzantine plays progressive thrash compared by the Decibel Magazine to Testament and Megadeth with power groove moves comparable to Meshuggah or Lamb of God with occasional clean vocals.[5][6] Byzantine plays technical metal and retro-minded Bay Area thrash.[7][8] Their music is very aggressive and melodic simultaneously.[5][7] Byzantine also incorporates instrumental parts in their songs and spoken word vocals.[7] The guitar soloing alone moves from fast parts to prog to jazz.[8] The bands uses also acoustic guitar and tribal-esque drum beats.[8]

Byzantine plays very modern metal, exploring different musical territories or song structures,[6] and has been labeled as a "forward-thinking" band.[9][10]

Growing up in West Virginia has helped Byzantine develop a unique sound.[11] "We are quite alienated from any big scene," explains Ojeda. "Therefore, we tend to think for ourselves a lot more when writing material."[11]

The Gauntlet states "The Fundamental Component is characterized by long songs, melodic thrash and Tony Rohrbough's scathing guitar solos while still embracing technical chaos and the violent groove of bassist Chris Adams and drummer Matt Wolfe."[11] Byzantine singer/guitarist Chris Ojeda says "I think we have a knack for achieving a good balance of chaos and melody".[11] Liz Ciavarella from Metal Maniacs magazine uses formulations such as "Scrupulous time-shifts and strategically-placed off-beats; forever infectious grooves, breakdowns (Thrashdowns?) and ceaseless experimentation that end in intricate catchy Metal mantras" to describe Byzantine's style.

Byzantine is often compared to heavy metal bands such as Meshuggah, Pantera, and Testament.[2][11]

Byzantine frontman Chris Ojeda, who plays guitar while singing, is considered to be in the tradition of James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, Max Cavalera, Mikael Akerfeldt, and Chuck Schuldiner.[11]

Lyrically the band is influenced by such bands as Meshuggah, Carcass and Opeth and focuses on problems indigenous to their home such as religion in American society.[2][11]

Band members[edit]

Current members[edit]

  • Chris "OJ" Ojeda – vocals, guitar (2000–present)
  • Matt Wolfe – drums (2002–present)
  • Brian Henderson - guitar (2010, 2013-present)
  • Sean Sydnor - bass (2013-present)

Former members[edit]

  • Chris "Cid" Adams – bass (2000–2004)
  • Michael "Skip" Cromer – bass (2004–2013)
  • Tony Rohrbough - guitar (2000-2013)
  • Jeremy Freeman - drums (2000)


Studio Albums[edit]


  • 2000-2001 Demos - (2001, Caustic Eye Productions)
  • Broadmoor - (2003, Full-length demo, also known as European Sampler, DK Entertainment/KMS)


The band was featured on two tribute albums in which they recorded an exclusive cover song for each.



  1. ^ a b "BYZANTINE Is 'No Longer A Functioning Band'". Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Byzantine Biography". Prosthetic Records. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  3. ^ a b "BYZANTINE: 'Oblivion Beckons' Release Date Announced". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  4. ^ "Reunited BYZANTINE Preparing To Record New Studio Album". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2012-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b D. Shawn Bosler. "Byzantine And They Shall Take Up Serpents". Decibel Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-05-06. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  6. ^ a b Keith Bergman. "Byzantine Oblivion Beckons". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  7. ^ a b c Nick Green. "Byzantine Oblivion Beckons". Decibel Magazine. Archived from the original on May 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  8. ^ a b c Scott Alisoglu. "BYZANTINE …And They Shall Take Up Serpents". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  9. ^ "BYZANTINE Is 'No Longer A Functioning Band'". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  10. ^ "BYZANTINE To Unveil Two New Songs Next Week". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "Byzantine Bio". The Gauntlet. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  12. ^

External links[edit]