Byzantine: …And They Shall Take Up Serpents

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Byzantine: …And They Shall Take Up Serpents
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Byzantine: ...And They Shall Take Up Serpents
Groove Metal, Metalcore, Thrash Metal
Prosthetic Records
July 12th, 2005
Release length: 48:20
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The groove/thrash metal band Byzantine‘s second release, “…And They Shall Take Up Serpents” is just more of the same from their debut full length album, but with more technicality and tenacity that the debut album seemed to lack. There are also more tracks on this release with a thrash sound, which could either make or break the album.

…And They Shall Take Up serpents is sort of a mixed bag this time around, with a lot of the tracks focusing moreso on the thrash aspect then the groove aspect like the last album did. “Justicia” is a great technical track, but will grow to bore you after a few spins, and “Jeremiad” has some amazingly heavy moments, but a sung chorus. While the singing is great on this song, it would have sounded better if it kept up the heavy pace instead of a slower one to incorporate this. And yes, breakdowns do exist on this release, which typically fit the song. There are also some killer guitar solos on this release and really showcase the talent this act has.

The main issue with this album is that it seems like the band enjoys playing really heavy, fast paced tracks, then suddenly slowing down. This appears in the track “Jeremiad” with the chorus and the solo, and “Temporary Temples”, which is an amazingly heavy track until you near the end whent he song suddenly slows down, it even includes background singing that is only an in tone hum against the music. This is then followed by a slow paced piano introduction on the track “Five Face Of Madness”, which is another great song. “Pity None” also follows this formula, but at least it works for the song, as it has a chorus that is only slowed down a bit with harsh singing vocals instead of clean, which helps the edginess of the track.

“The Rat Eaters” is really the only song on this release you will want to skip over. This groove heavy song is simpler then any Meshuggah track ever written. The song does have it’s faster moments, but the track is just so sporadic it may actually cause a headache, you go from slow, to fast, to mid paced, to fast, to slow, to…well, you get the idea. However, the closing track “Salem, Ark” is easily the best song off the album, with a killer solo on it.

So, it all depends, really, on how much you like groove metal. While this album sounds heavier then the first, some of the heaviness is ruined by sudden slower bits and clean singing, which in the end sounds rather formulaic for the aforementioned style. Other than that, with the exception of one track, the album is pretty good and has many moments that will get your blood pumping.

01. Justicia – 4:07
02. Taking Up Serpents – 3:12
03. Jeremiad – 6:00
04. Ancestry Of The Antichrist – 5:54
05. Temporary Temples – 4:59
06. Five Faces Of Madness – 5:29
07. Redneck War – 5:39
08. Pity None – 3:58
09. The Rat Eaters – 4:31
10. Salem, Ark – 4:31
Overall Score: 6/10
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Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.