Byzantine, a metal band hailing from southern W.Va., recently became the most requested metal band on Sirius/XM satellite radio.
The band formed in 2000 and has continued to make music despite label and lineup changes and a short hiatus, and their latest independent release, “To Release is to Resolve,” has served as a reminder that Byzantine is still active and capable of reaching the upper echelons of metal music.
Byzantine recently made the cover of CMJ magazine — a publication that tracks college radio stations across the nation. In CMJ, Byzantine is hailed as, “No. 1 at loud rock.” Also, Byzantine recently surpassed nationally recognized metal bands Slayer and Lamb of God to become the most requested metal band on Sirius/XM radio station, Liquid Metal.
The band consists of Chris Ojeda on vocals and rhythm guitar, Brian Henderson on guitar, Sean Sydnor on bass guitar and Matt Wolfe on drums. Ojeda graduated from Chapmanville High School in 1993 and is the son of Joseph and Katy Ojeda. In a recent interview conducted with the Logan Banner, Ojeda answered a question involving the band’s emerging fame and his W.Va. roots by saying, “The weird thing is, it’s like our second go around. When we got signed to our first record label, which was in 2004, we had a lot of press circulating around us outside of W.Va. from around 2004 to 2006. We were playing a lot of big shows then, but we were vastly ill-prepared for that type of touring schedule. We were younger and didn’t have a lot of experience on the road. This time around, we’re older and we’ve got some business sense to us. We’re self-financing and self-producing the albums. It’s a lot sweeter this time around. We are actually getting more press as an independent artist than we did when we were on a record label. It legitimizes a lot of the hard work that we put in.”
When asked about being independent artists as opposed to working on a record label, Ojeda said, “We have complete artistic control and freedom to do whatever we want. If we want to write a shorter album we can, or if we want to experiment more with our sound we can. The only hindrance is financial — now we have to rely on fan-funded money or loans from friends or family members to be able to pay for the album as opposed to going directly to a record label. That has hindered us somewhat, but we are able to really focus and know where our money goes to this time.”
In closing, Ojeda was asked to pick a song that best represents the music of Byzantine. Ojeda answered, “We have two songs on the newest album — it’s the last two songs. The first is called, “To Release” and the next is called “To Resolve.” It was one long song about ten minutes, and I had to cut it in half. I think that song embodies about everything we have done. It’s like ragu —it’s all in there. Every component of our band and all of our influences are within that ten minute time frame on the new album. To me, right now, that’s my high water mark for songwriting.”
Byzantine can be found online at www.byzantinemetal.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/byzantinewv. Byzantine’s new album “To Release is to Resolve,” can be purchased on Amazon, Google and iTunes. The band will be performing at the V Club in Huntington July 19.