July and August are the months with the lowest number of new releases. Because of that, they are also not the most interesting or best releases in a year. However, this time the new Byzantine album, The Cicade Tree, is the exception to the rule. In general, I’m not a big fan of bands in the modern metal or neo-thrash genre, but after listening to this album I wonder if that sums it up. The music is a mix of rather technical (neo) thrash, metalcore, melo-death, groove metal, and progressive metal/rock. If you talk about bands, you can put Megadeth, Lamb of God, Machine Head, Killswitch Engage, Tool, Deftones, Devin Townsend, Mastodon, Opeth, and Strapping Young Lad in a blender, mix it, and get something like Byzantine.
Opener ‘New Ways to Bear Witness’ starts fast and furious in a thrashcore style. It does remind me sometimes of Machine Head on speed combined with Killswitch Engage. This makes it one of the heaviest and fastest tracks. What makes the music special is the perfect mix of heavy parts in combination with haunting melodies and the exciting build up of the songs. After the first raging tracks, the band shows their real ability. Byzantine really shines when they add more depth and variety in the songs. ‘Map Of the Creator’ is the first example. The beautiful vocal lines in combination with aggressive grooving parts go hand in hand.
Speaking of vocal lines, in ‘Dead As Autumn Leaves’ the singing style reminds me a bit of Paradise Lost in their softer period. The further you get on the album, the more interesting it becomes. Take for example, ‘The Subjugated’ has a complex song with a nice intro, experimental rhythms, raising guitar parts, and strong clean singing. There is also the progressive influences and jazz elements in ‘Incremental’. The most progressive song however is the title track. It has a flowing melody and serves you with one great solo after another. The over nine minute long song ‘Verses Of Violence’ is the final track. Again great riffs, melodies and harsh singing varied with clean parts reminding of The Deftones can be heard. The variety on the album and in this song is big, near the end even a black metal part passes by! The closing tracks are successful cover songs of The Cars and Fishbone.
My conclusion is that The Cicade Tree is the best album of the band so far, the potpourri of styles and the strong songwriting make this an album that does not bore after a few spins, I even think it will get better and better after each spin. For me this is the best album this Summer and yes I do like this more than the new Leprous.
01. New Ways to Bear Witness
02. Vile Maxim
03. Map of the Creator
04. Dead as Autumn Leaves
06. The Subjugated
08. The Cicada Tree
09. Verses of Violence
10. Moving in Stereo
Playing Time: 61:00
Chris Ojeda - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Brian Henderson - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Sean Sydnor - Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Matt Bowles - Drums