Byzantine - To Release Is To Resolve - (9/10)

Published on April 14, 2015


  1. Scold's Battle
  2. Justinian Code
  3. A Curious Lot
  4. The Agonies
  5. God Forsaken
  6. You Sleep, We Wake
  7. To Release
  8. To Resolve


Progressive Thrash / Groove Thrash



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I’d always thought I was a fan of Byzantine, but maybe I was only ever really a fan of their ungodly riffing on “Catalyst” (taken from their then-final, third record Oblivion Beckons (2008)). While the West Virginian crew’s progressively-minded groove thrash has always appealed to me in theory, I’d be hard pressed to name or even really remember any of their other songs and I’ve always had trouble stomaching Chris “OJ” Ojeda’s rather distinct vocal tone. Thus 2013’s self-titled comeback record came and went without making too much of a stir on the personal front, and it seems to have been largely ignored by the metal community at large. To Release Is To Resolve, however, is undeniably the band’s most cohesive and impressive work to date and one that is only ignored at the (non-)listener’s own folly.


It’s like Chimaira and God Forbid, but for grown-ups!


Byzantine have never been ones to throw theirs in with the mainstream, choosing instead to go it alone; and so To Release Is To Resolve is another self-released, crowdfunded record like their last one. However, if there was ever an album to make the mainstream stand up and pay attention to the band, then To Release Is to Resolve is it. This isn’t to say the record is watered-down or sterilized in any way, for although the band do tend to indulge their melodic side a bit more than they have previously, their monstrous groove and tech-thrash riffing remain wholly in tact. Rather, To Release Is To Resolve undoubtedly shows Byzantine’s strongest songwriting to date – by a long shot. The band’s previous records have always been cohesive enough, Oblivion Beckons in particular, but To Release Is to Resolve is another different matter entirely.


The record kicks-off with the forceful “Scold’s Bridle,” a beast of a track in the vein of recent Gojira and wastes absolutely no time getting down to business. While most bands at this point would be happy to rest on their laurels for a bit would or have otherwise come out too strong too soon, Byzantine keep upping the steaks with each successive track. (Like the Unearth album before it) To Release Is To Resolve manages to continuously one-up itself, even in the face of ridiculous odds. Just when you think “God Forsaken,” which somehow blends together the driving groove of Chimaira with melodic flourishes of Faith No More and soaring tech-minded solos, is the absolute apex of Byzantine’s career  – and it just might well be – along comes “You Sleep, We Wake” and the epic, two-part title track “To Release” / “To Resolve.”



The best in the Byz.


To Release Is To Resolve takes the groove metal template set out by the likes of Lamb Of God and Chimaira and fuses it with that of more cerebral acts like Devin Townsend and Gojira, whose pummeling, rolling thunder-like groove Byzantine often find themselves emulating on this record. For all that the band’s sound revolves around their complex and considered songwriting, Byzantine’s main strength remains their almost inhuman stockpile of colossal riffery. That they just happen to be better at putting the whole thing together than even they themselves have before here is an added bonus that clearly marks out To Release Is To Resolve as their strongest effort yet, and one which sets the benchmark for great metal music, progressive or otherwise, in 2015.



Further listening:

Psycroptic – Psycroptic

Sylosis – Dormant Heart

Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed


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Author: Joshua Bulleid

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