Saturday, April 14, 2007

Byzantine - The Fundamental Component

The Fundamental Component

Have you ever bought an album for just one song? That’s how I ended up with “The Fundamental Component.” The song in question is “Hatfield” and I wish that all modern metalcore sounded like this. Of course, that would take talent, guts, and a resistance of the urge to shamelessly rip-off At The Gates.

This is not to say the rest of “The Fundamental Component” fails; it certainly doesn’t. It’s just that Byzantine is a band that takes risks. When you take risks, some of them work and some do not. One example would be vocalist OJ’s singing voice. It doesn’t work, but it takes courage to do it.

Byzantine plays progressive thrash similar to Pantera, Lamb of God, and Meshuggah. When I say “similar to”, I mean “exactly like.” I say progressive because both OJ and lead guitarist Tony are fantastic players and “The Fundamental Component” is filled with challenging arrangements. If you play guitar, you’ll dig this record.

This was the first Byzantine recording without a drum machine and drummer Wolfe sounds like he’s been playing with the band for years. According to Byzantine’s Website, Wolfe joined a few months prior to this album’s recording.

My chief complaint with “The Fundamental Component”, aside from those damn clean vocals, is their reliance on cheesy breakdowns. The world already has one Bleeding Through and loosing the breakdowns would give Byzantine more room to spread their creative wings. The exception is, of course, “Hatfield”, where Tony plays a killer lead on top of the breakdown.

I also admire Byzantine’s lyrical approach, which is rooted in their West Virginia home. They tackle a wide range of subjects, from pollution and strip mining to the legendary feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Cheers to a band that’s doing something different, even if they’re doing it inside the confines of something lame.

Here's Byzantine playing "Hatfield", with Lamb of God's Randy Blythe on guest vocals, recorded live in Morgantown, West Virginia on 30 Oct 03:

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