Byzantine (band)

Byzantine (band)

Byzantine was a heavy metal band from Charleston, West Virginia that formed in 2000. Byzantine, named for the Byzantine Empire, consisted of frontman and co-founder Chris "OJ" Ojeda (rhythm guitar, vocals), co- founder Tony Rohrbough (guitar), Matt Wolfe (drums) and Michael "Skip" Cromer (bass guitar, backing vocals). They released three studio albums on Prosthetic Records. Due to various circumstances the band reported their split on January 26, 2008, four days after the release of their third album. Byzantine is known for its unique sound, technical, aggressive and melodic simultaneously, modern and "forward thinking" musical style, which explores different musical territories or song structures.


Byzantine formed in the spring of 2000 by bassist Chris "Cid" Adams, guitarist Tony Rohbrough and vocalist/guitarist Chris "OJ" Ojeda after their former bands New Family and Temper split up. Byzantine wrote four songs and started to practice with a drum machine. Seven more songs were written and 2000/2001 demo was recorded in a friend's studio and self-released in 2001. Byzantine became a part of the local West Virginia Heavy Metal scene. Jeremy Freeman filled the drummer position in Byzantine for a short time and left the band in February 2002.

Subsequently the band recruited long time friend guitarist Matt Wolfe as a drummer. Six songs were recorded in 2003 in the Broadmoor Studios in Huntington, WV and released as Broadmoor, first demo featuring Wolfe on the drum kit. This aroused the interest of Lamb of God's drummer Chris Adler and Byzantine had a short East Coast tour with Lamb of God, which helped them to obtain new fans and a deal with Prosthetic Records.

Soon after Byzantine released their debut album The Fundamental Component in February 2004, which created the band's trademark sound. Subsequently Byzantine toured with Lamb of God and Shadows Fall as well as played the main stage of New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in 2004 (and later also in 2006). Chris "Cid" Adams was replaced by Michael "Skip" Cromer and Byzantine returned to the studio to record their second album, 2005's ...And They Shall Take Up Serpents, which received high praise both abroad and domestically.

A fan-oriented DVD Salvation, featuring exclusive material, scenes, in-studio clips, interviews, the uncut version of the "Jeremiad" music video and the performance of the never-before released "Cradle Song", have been released in 2007 and the number of Byzantine's fans grew. On January 22, 2008, the band's third studio album Oblivion Beckons was released. The band split up four days after the release.

Musical style and lyrical themes

Byzantine plays progressive thrash compared by the Decibel Magazine to Testament and Megadeth with power groove moves comparable to Meshuggah or Lamb of God with occasional clean vocals. Byzantine plays technical metal and retro-minded Bay Area thrash. Their music is very aggressive and melodic simultaneously. Byzantine also incorporates instrumental parts in their songs and spoken word vocals. The guitar soloing alone moves from fast parts to prog to jazz. The bands uses also acoustic guitar and tribal-esque drum beats.

Byzantine plays very modern metal, exploring different musical territories or song structures, and has been labeled as a "forward-thinking" band.

Growing up in West Virginia has helped Byzantine develop a unique sound. "We are quite alienated from any big scene," explains Ojeda. "Therefore, we tend to think for ourselves a lot more when writing material."

The Gauntlet states "The Fundamental Component is characterized by long songs, melodic thrash and Tony Rohrbough's scathing guitar solos while still embracing technical chaos and the violent groove of bassist Chris Adams and drummer Matt Wolfe." Byzantine singer/guitarist Chris Ojeda says "I think we have a knack for achieving a good balance of chaos and melody". Liz Ciavarella from Metal Maniacs magazine uses formulations such as "Scrupulous time-shifts and strategically-placed off-beats; forever infectious grooves, breakdowns (Thrashdowns?) and ceaseless experimentation that end in intricate catchy Metal mantras" to describe Byzantine's style.

Byzantine is often compared to heavy metal bands such as Meshuggah, Pantera, Slayer and Testament.

Byzantine frontman Chris Ojeda, who plays guitar while singing, is considered to be in the tradition of Hetfield, Mustaine, Cavalera and Shuldiner.

Lyrically the band is influenced by such bands as Meshuggah, Carcass and Lamb of God and focuses on problems indigenous to their home such as the religion in American society.


  • Chris "OJ" Ojeda - Vocals, Guitar (2000 - 2008)
  • Tony Rohrbough - Guitars (2000 - 2008)
  • Matt Wolfe - Drums (2002 - 2008)
  • Michael "Skip" Cromer - Bass (2004 - 2008)

Past members

  • Jeremy Freeman - Drums (2000-2001)
  • Chris "Cid" Adams - Bass (2000-2004)


Studio Albums


  • 2001: 2000-2001 Demos - (Caustic Eye Productions)
  • 2003: Broadmoor - (Full-length demo, also known as European Sampler, DK Entertainment/KMS)


The band was featured on two tribute albums in which they recorded an exclusive cover song for each.



External links

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