Album Review: Byzantine – “The Cicada Tree”


I understand the desire to label West Virginia’s Byzantine underdogs.  Rising up in the midsts of what I guess will be forever known as the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, they took flight alongside acts like Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, and their local brothers Lamb of God with a trio of popular albums before somewhat imploding in 2008 thanks not only to the changing scene but strife within the industry and the band itself.  You can paint that picture, and talk about being overshadowed by larger acts, but let me tell you a different story, one that ends with how The Cicada Tree, the band’s latest and first for Metal Blade, is not only tied for the best album they’ve released to date, but is an adrenaline-fueled highlight of 2017.   Continue reading

The 2017 Metal Forecast – Chris’s List

Passed-Out New Year's Eve Reveler

I left the hulking beast that was 2016 quietly, careful not to disturb the now fallen giant lest I startle and incur its wrath in those final seconds. Best to be careful: it had been a while since I had a year where the chaos of the outside world match and stoke the rage, doubt, and pain in my insular little life. But for every terrible news item that stabbed into our collective cultural eye there seemed to be another great — no, fantastic — album waiting to echo, share, and ultimately help ease our pain. And I’m not even limiting that to metal: everywhere incredible music was being created and shared, as if somehow deep down we all knew we were going to need it.

All of which goes to say 2017 has a long road ahead of it if it hopes to match the staggering amount of quality releases the previous year offered up for the masses. In a year where seemingly every single one of my favorite bands released something I was initially worried I might not find a lot to look forward to this year. After 10 minutes I had at least two dozen upcoming releases I couldn’t wait to get my hands on (not even including the latest from Black Anvil, which I happily address here). And while I won’t touch on everything, I’ll point out a few albums I’m hoping will stave off the bats and wolves looking for blood in the Year of Our Metal Lord, 2017. Continue reading

Quickies: Varg’s RPG, Slayer’s disappointing new song, plus a video from Byzantine!

varg vikernes role playing game

First of two days in a row where I’ll be taking on the Quickies, because Corey’s off doing Boston things. So here they are! Let’s see what we missed today, shall we?

  • Because of course he doesn’t have the good sense to just go the fuck away and hide in a bunker somewhere, Varg Vikernes wrote an RPG book called MYFAROG. I’m just going to assume it’s all different kinds of horrible and racist. Yeah, I think that’s a safe bet.
  • I’m not one to care about this kind of thing, but since a lot of y’all are…Slayer released a new song today. It’s called “When the Stillness Comes.” It kinda sucks. So there.
  • Good news, Baroness fans—the band hopes to finish recording their follow-up to 2012’s Yellow and Green later this month!
  • Jamey Jasta opened his face about death metal. Or death metal fans. Something. I don’t know; I don’t particularly care what this guy has to say about…anything.
  • And finally, here’s a new Byzantine video—check out “The Agonies” below:

Nice. Anyway, that’ll do it for tonight. Check back tomorrow for the usual!

Keep it heavy,


Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.