Byzantine have been an odd-ball obsession of time since their first Prosthetic release. It’s been great to watch the band get revived through crowdfunding, and even better to enjoy their music as it continues to get better and better. To Release Is To Resolve features a lot of the rhythm section pyrotechnics of their self-titled release, but with a more straight-forward guitar approach that creates a surprisingly easy listening experience. This shit is so catchy. But for me, like a lot of Byzantine fans, the crown jewel is mainman Chris “OJ” Ojeda’s vocal delivery. The guy’s a powerhouse, and his style is so unique that even the least seasoned beginner could pick him out of an audio lineup. My first piece for Metal Insider involved travelling to the studio where OJ was recording vocals for this record, and I’ll always carry with me how impressive it was to hear this guy lay down tracks that sounded, straight from his mouth, with no processing or treatment, identical to what you hear on the album. Check out “The Agonies.”
5) Mutoid Man, Bleeder
I was a Cave-In fan, but that didn’t last. I know, I’m terrible. That music will always have a place in my heart, but it isn’t something that’s still alive for me today… at least not in the way it is for most of my friends. But Mutoid Man has a staying power for me that I think Cave-In may not. Bleeder is just as smart and impressive as Jupiter, and it’s also graced with the accessibility of Antenna without that album’s lack of focus. And Bleeder is so dirty, too, hitting the best aspects of Doomriders’ mellower output, all while remaining anthemic and confident. Not the heaviest release, but it’s not supposed to be… feels good, man. Check out the YouTube video of them playing through “Bridgeburner” live in GodCity Studios, then tell me you don’t wanna hear this record.
4) Fear Factory, Genexus
Some of the easiest metal for me to find growing up in a shit town in the ‘90s was from bands on Roadrunner Records. Through my exploration of metal in all its varied permutations, Fear Factory have stayed with me since then, and while I’ve enjoyed their output throughout, Genexus is the first truly epic album they’ve released since Obsolete, The balance of their brand of mechanical heaviness with the ethereal melodicism that made their landmark albums shine so bright is actually elevated on this album, and if you’ve ever been a fan of Fear Factory, I just can’t see you denying that Genexus features them in finest form. Check out “Anodized” and “Expiration Date.”