Watch the Intense New Byzantine Video for “The Agonies”
Byzantine’s (nobody beats ’em) 2013 track “Soul Eraser” tackled the problem of heroin addiction in the band’s home state of West Virginia. “The Agonies,” from their recently released album To Release is to Resolve, targets the pain pill epidemic in the area. Noticing a theme here?
Frontman Chris “OJ” Ojeda elaborates on the motivation for writing “The Agonies” to Billboard, who just premiered its music video:
The song title ‘The Agonies’ is a street term for the severe withdrawal symptoms from prescription pain pill abuse. This subject is extremely personal for me, as this problem has infiltrated many good lives of people I know and grew up with. It’s an epidemic, plain and simple. It has taken my home state, which has always been known for being blue-collar, hardworking, tough as nails, and turned it into a pre-apocalyptic scene of the unemployed, the depressed and the hopeless. My own hometown was once a place that we could leave our windows open on hot summer nights with no fear. Now my parents don’t feel safe in their home, just like most senior citizens. If you fit the demographic for having pain medication in your home, chances are pretty good that you also fit the demographic for being slain in your home by the same kids you watched play in your yard 15 years ago.
I personally know what you would call ‘pill mill doctors’ in my area. These are board-certified physicians and/or pharmacists that took an oath to help people, and yet they pump out opiates like a Pez dispenser for anyone that has cash, regardless of medical history or lack thereof. And the pharm industry is churning out opiates at a record rate, all while lining the pockets of our state political leaders to ensure laws don’t restrict them via lobbyists. Who suffers? We all do. Insurance, taxes, unemployment, drug arrests all go up. The percentage of crimes in West Virginia that are home invasions are at an all-time high specifically because of the painkiller epidemic.
The Holly Siders-directed video is gorgeously shot in HD black and white. It’s nothing too out of the ordinary — a straight performance clip — but the close-ups of the band members’ faces really drive the lyrical point home and make it feel as personal as it surely is.