||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (November 2015)|
|Origin||Charleston, West Virginia|
|Genres||Groove metal, thrash metal, progressive metal
|Years active||2000–2008, 2010–present|
|Labels||Prosthetic Records, independent|
|Members||Chris "OJ" Ojeda
|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 and vocals), Brian Henderson (guitar), Matt Wolfe (drums) and Sean Sydnor (bass guitar). They have released three studio albums on Prosthetic Records and two independent albums. Byzantine are widely hailed as the most underrated band of the modern NWOAHM movement. Due to various circumstances - the band reported their split on January 26, 2008, one day after the release of their third album, but 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 disbanding.
Byzantine formed in the spring of 2000 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 disbanded. Byzantine wrote four songs and shortly after, Jeremy Freeman left. Seven more songs were written and 2000-2001 Demos was recorded and self-released in 2001. Byzantine became a part of the local West Virginia heavy metal scene.
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.
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 playing the main stage of New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in 2004 (and later also in 2006). Chris "Cid" Adams was soon fired and Byzantine returned to the studio to record their second album in 2005: ...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.
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", were released in 2007 and the number of Byzantine's fans grew. On January 22, 2008, the band's third studio album Oblivion Beckons was released. The band announced their break up one day after the release.
In March 2010, the band reunited and played local shows around West Virginia. The band members insisted that they had returned with the intention of carrying on with Byzantine. However 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.
On January 26, 2012, it was announced that the band was reunited with original lead guitarist Tony Rohrbough and had plans to record another album. The album will be self-funded. On February 26, 2013, the self-titled album was released.
On May 29, 2014, it was announced that Byzantine will be recording their fifth album in September when producer Jay Hannon returned to West Virginia with new guitarist Brian Henderson and new bassist Sean Sydnor. On April 7, 2015, the studio album To Release Is to Resolve was released independently by Byzantine for the second time.
Musical style and lyrical themes
Byzantine plays progressive thrash compared by Decibel Magazine to Testament and Megadeth, with power groove moves comparable to Meshuggah or Lamb of God, and occasional clean vocals. The band's former record label, Prosthetic Records, has also compared them to Pantera. Byzantine plays technical metal and retro-minded Bay Area thrash. Their music has been described as simultaneously melodic and aggressive. Byzantine also occasionally incorporates instrumental parts in their songs and spoken word vocals. The guitar soloing alone moves from fast parts to prog to jazz. The band also uses acoustic guitar and tribal-esque drum beats.
Growing up in West Virginia has helped Byzantine develop a unique sound. "We are quite alienated from any big scene," explains Ojeda. "Therefore, we tend to think for ourselves a lot more when writing material."
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." Byzantine singer/guitarist Chris Ojeda says "I think we have a knack for achieving a good balance of chaos and melody". 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.
- Chris "OJ" Ojeda – vocals, guitar (2000–present)
- Brian Henderson – guitar (2010, 2013–present)
- Sean Sydnor – bass (2013–present)
- Matt Wolfe – drums (2002–2015)
- Chris "Cid" Adams – bass (2000–2004)
- Michael "Skip" Cromer – bass (2004–2013)
- Tony Rohrbough – guitar (2000–2013)
- Jeremy Freeman – drums (2000)
- The Fundamental Component – (2004, Prosthetic Records)
- ...And They Shall Take Up Serpents – (2005, Prosthetic Records)
- Oblivion Beckons – (2008, Prosthetic Records)
- Byzantine – (2013, self-released)
- To Release Is to Resolve – (2015, self-released)
- 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.
- On Your Knees: The Tribute To Judas Priest – (2007, Crimson Mask Records)
- For the Sick, a tribute to Eyehategod – (2007, Emetic Records)
- Jeremiad: A Video by Donnie Searls – (2006, Mini-DVD, Atma)
- Salvation – (2007, DVD, Prosthetic Records)
- "Soul Eraser" – (2013)
- The Agonies – (2015, Screaming Butterfly Entertainment, directed by Holly Siders, MA, MFA)
- You Sleep, We Wake (Lyric Video) – (2015, Screaming Butterfly Entertainment, directed and animated by Holly Siders, MA, MFA)
- "BYZANTINE Is 'No Longer A Functioning Band'". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
- "Byzantine Biography". Prosthetic Records. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
- "BYZANTINE: 'Oblivion Beckons' Release Date Announced". Blabbermouth. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
- "BYZANTINE: Reunited Byzantine Parts Ways with Guitarist, Announces Replacement". Blabbermouth. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
- "Reunited BYZANTINE Preparing To Record New Studio Album". Blabbermouth. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
- "Byzantine To Record Fifth Studio Album". Metal Underground. May 29, 2014.
- D. Shawn Bosler. "Byzantine And They Shall Take Up Serpents". Decibel Magazine. Archived from the original on May 6, 2006. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- Keith Bergman. "Byzantine Oblivion Beckons". Blabbermouth. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- Nick Green. "Byzantine Oblivion Beckons". Decibel Magazine. Archived from the original on May 22, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- Scott Alisoglu. "BYZANTINE …And They Shall Take Up Serpents". Blabbermouth. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- "BYZANTINE Is 'No Longer A Functioning Band'". Blabbermouth. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- "BYZANTINE To Unveil Two New Songs Next Week". Blabbermouth. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- "Byzantine Bio". The Gauntlet. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
- "NO CLEAN SINGING » AN NCS VIDEO PREMIERE: BYZANTINE’S “SOUL ERASER”". nocleansinging.com. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
- Byzantine - "The Agonies" OFFICIAL VIDEO (HD 2015). YouTube. April 17, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
- "Watch the Intense New Byzantine Video for "The Agonies" - MetalSucks". MetalSucks. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
- "Byzantine Tackles Prescription Drug Addiction in 'The Agonies' Video: Exclusive - Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
- "Byzantine premiere You Sleep, We Wake video". Metal Hammer. Retrieved August 24, 2015.