Byzantine – ‘The Cicada Tree’ album review

Band: Byzantine
Album: The Cicada Tree
Release Date: 28th July, 2017
Label: Metal Blade



Review by Sean

To say that I’ve been in a bad place lately is putting it mildly. So I was reticent to want to do anything, even down to getting out of bed in the morning. But fuck me am I glad I decided to get up the motivation to review this album, because Byzantine didn’t just blow the cobwebs away with their latest offering, ‘The Cicada Tree’, they vaporised them.
Listening to this album gave me so much energy and oomph I managed to clean my entire house before it was done. It revitalised me, if only momentarily, and if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about how great this album is, then let me expand a little bit on that.

It’s all too easy to say “Oh, this band sounds like this, or that, or some other band, with a bit of this mixed in”, and call it a day, and while there are influences to pick up with what Byzantine chuck out at you, most of what you hear wouldn’t be possible if the band members weren’t incredibly talented themselves. From the raw savagery of the guitars that still manages to work in some expertly crafted melodic parts, to the incredible range and variation of the vocals, right through to the engine room of bass and drums, a tight-knit unit that makes sure the band gets to where they’re going with absolutely zero mistakes.

But what are those influences that you can hear as a jumping off point to learn more about the band? Well, in listening to this album, my first Byzantine album, embarrassingly, though I’m gonna go correct that ASAP, you can pick out pieces of Breed 77, Killswitch Engage, and a touch of Gojira, but honestly, the majority of the sound is the talented guys in the band themselves. They don’t trade off their influence, they use them to forge a sound all their own and run with it.

My standout track on the album is ‘Verses of Violence’. It perfectly encapsulates everything the band has to offer. It starts off with an acoustic instrumental intro, transitioning smoothly into a much heavier sound, then the vocals kick in, normal at first, before getting very aggressive out of nowhere. It’s fucking brilliant when those vocals turn into actual singing for the chorus, which is actually quite the InMe sounding thing, at least to me. But it doesn’t end there. There is seriously a black metal part to this song. It’s insane, and I fucking loved it. It’s absolutely up there for my choice of song of the year, and it shows just how well this band can mix multiple different sounds and make it work.

I’m not going to say what I normally say at this point, because I promised I wouldn’t, but I will say that when the discussion for album of the year crops up, this album will be up there, because it’s just fucking great. There isn’t a weak song on it, and it truly was hard picking a favourite, because each track is as good as all the others. So if, like me, you’ve ashamedly not taken the time to check out Byzantine before, go and check out this album, because you need this album in your life, whatever music you listen to. It really is an album that defies genres, and that’s a good thing.




Track Listing:
01. New Ways to Bear Witness
02. Vile Maxim
03. Map of the Creator
04. Dead as Autumn Leaves
05. Trapjaw
06. The Subjugated
07. Incremental
08. The Cicada Tree
09. Verses of Violence
10. Moving in Stereo (The Cars cover)
11. Servitude (Fishbone cover)


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