I was preparing to travel to Pennsylvania for a couple of weeks and saw that newly signed Metal Blade artist Byzantine was playing in Dayton, Ohio, just a few miles from where I was staying along my journey. Byzantine? I wasn’t too familiar with them. How bad could it be?
Bad? Not even close. It was just the opposite. The West Virginians have rocketed to the top of my Metal rotation after seeing them live. Byzantine was scheduled as the 2nd band on a 4 band bill. Good thing, since I had a bit of a drive the next day. After an unexplained hour delay, the first band, Floodwalker, played. They were exceedingly loud – glad I had my earplugs. The band’s doomish Metal had the floor vibrating significantly and when the bass hit certain notes, I was vibrating too. They weren’t bad, but not really my thing and, yes, they were too loud. I said it.
Though I had previously heard a song or two by Byzantine, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a band that was tight, precise, and full of energy. Mainman Chris “OJ” Ojeda was a super nice guy and, despite getting set up for the show, took a couple of minutes to chat with me. He assured that a new album was on the way and the band was out for a few dates to keep things fresh and introduce new drummer Matt Bowles. Byzantine ripped through about 40 minutes of their tunes, each one unique enough to make a mark, and executed with expertise. As a plus, they actually looked like they were enjoying themselves despite (or maybe because) being on a tiny, cramped stage playing in front of a few dozen people, many of whom likely never heard of them. Byzantine’s technical approach should certainly appeal to Metal geeks, but they also find the right times to just let it rip and play some aggressive stuff. They showed both sides during the performance. They closed with Metallica’s Dyer’s Eve, not really an expected cover song. It was surprising and quite well done.
Check out some of my photos of the show. Thanks to Liz and the band. This is a band on the way up with supreme potential. Look for more from Byzantine in the near future and, if they come your way, be sure to check them out. I know I will.
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