“The Cicada Tree”

By Dr. Abner Mality

At one time, these guys were one of the leading examples of the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal”, which was chugging along pretty good in the early 2000’s. I saw them perform live and you could make a good case that they were as technically proficient as any US band at that time.

I have moved on from that style of music, but I can still appreciate something that is well done and…more importantly…honest. There are parts of “The Cicada Tree” that make me cringe, but anybody that dismisses this band out of hand is being a little facetious. There is good metal to be found here.

The sound is a mix of aggressive Lamb of God type thrash, progressive djent-style metal and the kind of modern hard rock you find on the local “REAL ROCk” radio stations. It kind of keeps you off balance, as “New Ways To Bear Witness” and “Vile Maxim” are to fist to the face metal with lots of twisting riffs, but “Map of the Creator” is a ballad that almost starts like Staind. I know, I know, that sounds bad, but the song ends in a different place than it started. There are times when the radio friendly side of Byzantine almost puts me in revolt, like the first half of “Verses of Violence”, which is ultra sappy and features clean vocals worthy of Hinder, but that side gives way to something else. “Verses of Violence” winds up being pretty progressive and goes through a kaleidoscope of changes. You get the feeling these guys put thought into what they are doing.

Their cover of The Cars’ “Moving In Stereo” is awesome from the getgo and one of the best metal covers of a non-metal song I have heard recently. Frankly, Byzantine is not my preferred type of metal, but they do what they do better than many others.