Under The Influence #30: Parallax on “…And They Shall Take Up Serpents” by Byzantine!

July 12th 2005 and the height of the Metalcore era saw a handful of bands buck the trends. Hailing from Charleston, West Virginia and formed five years previously, Byzantine are one such band. Their sound is arguably one of Progressive Thrash, combining technical elements with occasional clean vocals and spoken words, groove riffs and Jazz inspired solos. Throughout their career they’ve not been afraid to explore longer instrumental parts, acoustic moments and tribal drum sounds with a balance between chaos and melody. Their sophomore album “…And They Shall Take Up Serpents” appeared back then with lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Chris “OJ” Ojeda being the sole member from that era still in the band today. Produced by Aaron Fisher, Mixed by Drew Mazurek and released by Prosthetic Records, the album was rated an impressive 8/10 by Blabbermouth reviewer Scott Alisoglu…

Parallax bassist Simon Edwards comments: “Maybe the stars just didn’t align in their favor, but Byzantine never reached the heights that they deserve. They should be touring all around the world with a similar following to the likes of Lamb of God, Meshuggah and Gojira. Their second album ” …And They Shall Take Up Serpents” should have been the launchpad that took them there. It certainly has enough top quality tracks on it to earn any band legendary status, though it still remains relatively unknown in the wider metal scene. It’s the perfect storm of aggression, melody, groove and progression that solidified their unique sound for years to come. As soon as the first track “Justicia” hits, you know exactly what you’re getting for the next 48 minutes. The work of then lead guitarist Tony Rohbrough rips through guitar solos with deviously dark harmonies, that are sure to put a smile on your face. Chris “OJ” Ojeda’s vocals offer up plenty of variation between screams and clean vocals alike. Constantly moving from one rhythm to another the drummer, Matt Wolfe, album keeps the listener guessing which way the song will be going next. The pure genius of the transition between the last two tracks of the record can only be truly appreciated when listened to on the CD. Something which sadly has slowly been phased out by online streaming in the 15 years since it’s release. The album still stands up as strong today as it did when it first came out, which is the true test of a classic.

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