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Byzantine - Black Sea Codex

Black Sea Codex
by MetalWim at 11 December 2022, 3:02 PM

I first heard of BYZANTINE in 2004, when I reviewed their debut album “The Fundamental Component” for Headache Magazine. In all honesty, they have been going since 2000, but had a two-year hiatus from 2010 until 2012, when they decided to start again. But I have to admit that I haven’t heard any of their works that they released after 2004. So having the opportunity to review their latest effort, “Black Sea Codex”, an EP, made me chuckle. I am gladly doing so.

BYZANTINE is from Charleston is West Virginia and will be classed as Modern Metal. Well, that is right, as they do like to mix traditional with old sounds, without it ever becoming dull or stale. They can do Heavy, they can play subtle, they can rock hard, but sound introverted too. On “Black Sea Codex”, which clocks just under half an hour, flies all over the place. Just to put this into perspective, if you listen to the benchmark of all Thrash Metal albums, “Reign In Blood”, it doesn’t even reach 28 full minutes. So, to call this an EP is a bit of a stretch.

On the other hand, it is quite accurate, as “Black Sea Codex” only houses four songs that they wrote themselves, plus two covers. The first one being “Sirens”, which is a CORONER song. They have done it justice, as they have kept the archaic style that defines that band intact. The other cover is “Red Skies” by THE FIXX. I have heard this one before, but I have to admit that I thought they were singing ‘Race cars at night’ instead. Sorry, but that was what I heard, and I really can’t unhear it any more. As it is, I feel that “Red Skies” is just too simple for BYZANTINE. They need a bit more of a challenge.

The rest of the songs do offer those challenges and showcase the fact that this is a very good band. They write good songs, but they are lacking in one department, which is memorability. Once the song is finished, it leaves your mind. It doesn’t stick. Now, I know this is only an EP, but I do hope that BYZANTINE will take up the gauntlet and make their songs even more demanding, even more elaborate. That should fix that issue. And if you are wondering, yes, I will be very interested in what BYZANTINE has to offer in the future.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1 Unhook Me
2 Wings of My Soul
3 Sirens
4 Purity
5 God Shame
5 Red Skies
Chris Ojeda – Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Brian Henderson – Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals
Matt Bowles – Drums
Ryan Postlethwait - Bass
Record Label: Independent


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