Jul 202017


(We present TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by West Virginia’s Byzantine, scheduled for release by Metal Blade on July 28.)

When Byzantine basically slowly imploded after their fantastic self-titled comeback I’ve no shame in admitting I was super-concerned about what would happen. I knew Chris Ojeda wanted to continue on, it was his baby, he’s the reason Byzantine exists, but the “OG” lineup of Byzantine, the one people remember, was pretty hard to beat and had some uniquely talented musicians in it, stylistically. Lead guitarist Tony Rohrbough would be especially the hardest element to replace, as his angular jazz-fusion-esque approach to soloing over the thrash/math-metal/southern-swagger juggernaut of the Byzantine sound served as the final piece in the band’s musical jigsaw puzzle that saw the whole thing come together.

To Release Is To Resolve, the band’s first album with its current line-up, was a great record, but one that had a lot of jagged edges on it as the effort to incorporate the new blood’s musical talents and tendencies hadn’t quite yet been worked out. Brian Henderson’s guitar playing was far more melodic and hook-oriented than Rohrbough’s, and Ojeda had bassist Sean Sydnor, who was much more technically skilled at his instrument than Michael Chromer, to account for. It was still Byzantine in all of the right ways, and even saw the band visiting more progressive pastures in light of the absence of Tony Rohrbough, who was a zealot for cutting songs down to the absolute minimum efficiency possible.

An evolution was definitely on the horizon, and I was eager to hear what would come next. Original drummer Matt Wolfe is now out of the picture since To Release…, making Ojeda officially the only original Byzantine member left in the band. Matt Bowles has stepped into the kit position, and he brings with him a greater degree of technical prowess. Continue reading »

Jun 152017


(DGR takes over our round-up rodeo for this Thursday, with a mix of news and new music from 8 bands.)

By the time you are reading this, I will likely be hiding like a coward underneath a fan set on incredibly high as this region of California experiences its first legit summer heatwave of one hundred plus temperatures. Considering that I am a soft wuss who has somehow survived many of these prior, you’d think that attempting to lose weight so that I may one day fit in my freezer with the door closed wouldn’t be the go-to gameplan, but alas, here we are.

You may have noticed by our recent slowdown post that a good chunk of the NCS crew plans to spend the weekend cooped up in a handful of venues in Seattle for the Northwest Terror Fest, enjoying a smattering of different groups. So in order to offset that I’ve made a hefty collection of new music and some album artwork that has slowly been cropping up on the web in recent weeks that have floated by us recently, to be caught in the patented super-porous DGR news net. At the very end I’ll even toss in an album that I came across recently for all of you to enjoy.

So let us sunder forth so that I can quickly go back to attempting to stuff myself onto the second shelf of the freezer next to the frozen lasagna boxes. Continue reading »

May 172017


I’m going to make this short and sweet. West Virginia’s Byzantine have just released a new video for a new song off their new album, The Cicada Tree, which will be released through Metal Blade on July 28th. We’ve been long-time fans of Byzantine at this putrid site, and have had high hopes for this new album. Based on this song, it sounds like those hopes will be fulfilled.

New Ways To Bear Witness” is, among other things, catchy as hell. And those other things include the fact that it’s a primal, high-energy, thundering, grooving, thrashing, ass-kicker of a heavy metal song. Main man Chris “OJ” Ojeda is in fine voice, both when he’s putting the grit into the sound and when he sends his voice soaring, and the song also includes some memorable soloing, plus a dramatic melody that suits the serious-minded lyrics. Continue reading »

Mar 092016

Exodus-Tempo of the Damned


(TheMadIsraeli returns with another round-up of music from yesteryear that’s been keeping him company lately. Volume 1 can be found here. As will become obvious, the post’s title is tongue-in-cheek.)

Here we are with this again. I’m feeling this idea a lot, I have to admit. Getting right to it…

ExodusTempo Of The Damned

I honestly believe at the end of the day this is Exodus’ best Souza-era record. It has punch, attitude, mean-as-fuck riffs, and it feels like there’s a higher degree of precision here. I know people enjoyed the wild, free-spirited nature of their earlier albums, but I do feel like the band mastered their craft here.

It also stands as a pretty solid reminder that out of all the more popular American thrash bands, Exodus are the absolute KINGS of the mid-paced stomp. “Sealed with a Fist” is the epitomizing example, raunchy and in your face while being infectious and full of that piss and vinegar thrash captures so well. Continue reading »

Feb 102016



It’s conceivable that there are people out there who actually noticed that notwithstanding my earlier promise about posting one of these installments every day this week, I failed to do that yesterday. In between other posts that were more urgent and interference from my fucking day job, I just couldn’t manage it. So, to keep on schedule, I’m posting two installments today!

In case anyone happens to stumble on this post with no idea what I’m talking about, this is my year-end list of 2015’s “Most Infectious Metal Songs”, which will come to an end on Sunday, and there are 20 previous installments you can inspect via this link.


I am so damned happy that Khemmis‘ 2015 album has been so damned successful. Lots of people knew how good they were before I had my first taste of their music at the 2014 Denver Black Sky festival, but I still like to think I was at least hanging around the launching pad before the rocket took off. Continue reading »

Jun 012015


For East Coast fans of Byzantine, we’ve got an update on the schedule for the tour we’re sponsoring that begins later this month, with support from Mobile Deathcamp. The new schedule, which reflects a few changes, is shown on the flyer above.

The tour begins in Elmhurst, NY, on June 12 and concludes in Wilmington, NC, on June 26, and will lay waste to 15 cities along the way. Continue reading »

Apr 272015


We’re stoked to help spread the news that West Virginia’s Byzantine are hitting the road again on a new NCS-sponsored tour that will bring their unique brand of heavy metal to lucky fans up and down the East Coast in June. Joining the band for this new rampage will be some speed merchants from Toledo, Ohio — Mobile Deathcamp.

Long-time readers of our site will be quite familiar with Byzantine because we’ve been writing about them virtually non-stop since the day in January 2012 when they officially announced their resurrection after splitting up in 2008.  But at this point it would be tough to find any metalheads with good taste who don’t know about Byzantine. Their new album To Release Is To Resolve is one of 2015’s true highlights, and now lots of people are going to get the chance to hear the music live — along with choice cuts from throughout the band’s discography.

We asked frontman Chris “OJ” Ojeda for his thoughts about this new tour, and here’s what he told us: Continue reading »

Apr 172015


Here are two videos that caught my eyes and ears this morning, one from an old favorite of this site, one from some surprising newcomers.


The old favorites are West Virginia’s Byzantine, whose new album To Release Is To Resolve, to no one’s surprise, is fantastic (and reviewed here for us by TheMadIsraeli). Two days ago Billboard premiered a video for the song “The Agonies” off the new album, but I only caught up with it today. Continue reading »

Mar 182015


(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by West Virginia’s Byzantine.)

Anyone who could get to sit down and have a real, lengthy chat with Chris “OJ” Ojeda would quickly learn that the dude is one of the coolest cats you could have the pleasure of talking to. He’s still got a youthful passion for metal, as if he hadn’t aged from his teenage years at all. I remember back in the early/mid-2000s a marketing term being thrown around, the meaning of which I was never sure of: “working man’s metal”. If you take the words literally, Byzantine are certainly that. For OJ, music really has been the thing he gets to indulge once the rest of life is taken care of. Yet Byzantine’s music is one of the most compelling cases for the argument that some of the best metal is written when it’s not created with careerist intentions.

Normally, I would have been afraid that To Release Is To Resolve wouldn’t stack up to the band’s previous work. They lost two members who contributed a lot of touches that made the band: Michael “Skip” Cromer’s bass playing and back up vocals were gone, as was Tony Rohrbough, one of my favorite guitarists of all time and a hard-to-replace identity in the lead guitar slot. However, I didn’t have that hesitation, because since my introduction to Chris when I reached out to him concerning my retrospective of their discography, I learned that Ojeda is, in many respects, Byzantine incarnate. This is his baby, and he wouldn’t allow it to stagnate or put out material that wouldn’t be up to par. Continue reading »

Mar 132015


(Having heard of my job-related inability to assemble round-ups of new music for the last week (and the next one), Austin Weber has graciously stepped up to fill the void… and then I didn’t even have time to post his first installment in a timely manner. The delay is my fault, but even late, it’s still very much worth reading.  There’s a lot of good music in here.)

Our esteemed leader, and general in our revolt against metal mediocrity, Islander, has slipped into the shadows once again. Sometimes when his job flogs him too much he doesn’t have any spare time to flog his ears and spread that beating around to the fine folks who read our daily crazed musings here at NCS. So, once again, I’ve decided to cautiously fill in and ensure that killer new music from across the metal spectrum graces your ears. All death threats, grumblings, or perceptive complaints can be sent to my email: arewebd@yahoo.com. Lots to cover so let’s dive right in.


Vermörd are a Maryland-based blackened death metal band who are new to me, and one Islander had meant to write about before his current work debacle denied him the chance to do so. As such, I figured I’d include them in this post, and also because he told me to check them out under the theory that I might like music. And right he was. Continue reading »