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Byzantine Oblivion Beckons

Byzantine - Oblivion Beckons
01. Absolute Horizon
02. Nadir
03. Oblivion Beckons
04. The Gift of Discernment
05. Explosion and Collapse
06. Catalyst
07. Pattern Recognition
08. Renovatio
09. Centurion
10. Receiving End of Murder
11. All Hail the End Times
12. Deep End of Nothing
13. A Residual Haunting
2008 Prosthetic Records

Reviewed by: Josh H.   //   Published: 2/6/2008

In listening to Byzantine's third and apparently last recorded effort, two words come to mind: wasted opportunity. While many American bands are content to play it safe, Oblivion Beckons portrays Byzantine as a band that was will to take bold steps to create music outside the confines and expectations of a scene flooded to capacity with cookie-cutter moshcore and tired Bay Area thrash mimicry.

Conjuring a stylistic mash-up that evokes everything from Machine Head to Meshuggah to Nevermore, Byzantine used some of metal's finest as reference points, but combined these influences on Oblivion Beckons in a way that was distinctly their own. Ten ton chug-a-thons like the title track give way to the epic guitars and soaring choruses of "Centurion" and the pensive accoustics of "The Gift of Discernment" and "Renovatio." This variation mixed with a pronounced affinity for catchiness and groove makes for a compelling listen that could have set the band apart from the bulk of their peers who are often content to pillage metal's former glories without giving anything back.

The album veers in several different directions, but ties everything together with solid songwriting and tasteful musicianship. The vocals are remarkably diverse, ranging from death metal growls to a Warrel Dane-esque croon, the guitars go from down 'n' dirty thrash to triumphant melodicism that careens into power metal territory, while the rhythm section provides an unwavering slab of bedrock and subtle keyboard-work fills out Byzantine's sound without ever taking things overboard. Many bands would easily get lost in such a myriad approach, and Oblivion Beckons does falter on occasion, but as a general rule the Byzantine knew when to reign things in.

There are moments on the record where the band chose to rest on its laurels, lazily genuflecting before the altars of Pantera and Lamb of God, and some of the vocal work on tracks such as "Absolute Horizon" and "Expansion and Collapse" is of a decidedly questionable nature. But these flaws are to be expected of a band in such a transitional state. Rarely do great bands emerge fully formed and Byzantine were no exception.

Bottom Line: It's truly a shame that Oblivion Beckons has turned out to be Byzantine's final statement, as the record finds the band brimming with the potential to rise above third tier status. With a sound that simultaneously evokes the strongest qualities of the so-called New Wave of American Heavy Metal and the progressive tendencies of bands such as Nevermore, Byzantine could've easily used this record as a springboard to bigger and better things.

Sin Remover_   posted 10/13/2009 7:13:23 PM
Byzantine is easily one of the greastest bands that never made it. All 3 of their albums are amazing in different ways. Its a shame they broke up. At the pace they were progressing they could have easily turned out to be one of the best metal bands of all time!!!!!
fucky0u_   posted 2/12/2008 2:54:11 PM
awful. I'm glad they're gone
Evilf22_   posted 2/12/2008 11:10:12 AM
hey Dyami_LIAV, you're a f*cking gay dude.
Dyami_LIAV_   posted 2/10/2008 10:59:51 PM
Really good, but largely underappreciated band that never got their due. Their first disc was decent, the 2nd was really good, and I just bought this one. So far it's pretty good as well, though hard to determine if it'll beat the last one. Solid review, seems fair. Sucks that they broke up too, as these guys were a forward-thinking band, never afraid to sound different from what most of their peers were doing, or cater to the lowest common denominator of whatever trend "the scene" seems to be i
Quesadilla_   posted 2/9/2008 3:07:28 AM

.02/12 - real score

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