So I got this album sent to me from a Canadian band goes by the name of SCYTHIA. WHO?!? My thoughts exactly. Then I read the bio: they perform their own blend of epic progressive metal with a twist of folklore. Hmmm…now I had to hear what was going on, thanks to that description and badass cover art. Turns out this record …Of Conquest is SCYTHIA’S third, and it’s definitely worth looking into, especially if you’re on the prowl for something a little different. This is certainly not conventional metal by any means, but it surely rocks hard, and is also a lot of fun at times.
Opening song “Fanfare 1516” stacks on the riffs with a layer of keyboards and has that ship on the high seas feel to it. “Merchant of Sin” follows that up with some fancy drumming, heavy guitars, and time changes galore. First single and video “Bear Claw Tavern” is DEFINITELY a drinkin’ anthem that you could see the minstrels playing in Ye Olden times as everyone in the tavern swings his goblet full of ale or mead, howling along drunkenly. This is a fun one for sure!
Drummer Celine Derval shares lead vocal duties with singer/guitarist Dave Khan on “Reflections” which is also one of the more intricate pieces on …Of Conquest, as well as a personal favorite. The guitar simply shreds and Jeff Black’s keys accentuate them nicely. This all goes in tandem with Derval and bassist Terry Savage forging the rhythm section landscape. Put it all together and you’ve got one of the best tracks on the album alongside “Rise of the Kraken” which is next. These are the kind of songs that I think would thrive in a live setting, so rich is the musical canvas that SCYTHIA paint on. There’s all kinds of action happening in “Into the Storm” that it’s almost dizzying. There are even some harsh vocals provided by Savage which are a nice touch.
Things take a softer turn with “Land of Scythia” which is hands-down the most medieval-sounding song in the collection. As far as slower stuff goes, it’s pretty good, but not mind-blowing or anything, and with about two minutes left it turns fast and heavy, which is cool. Like I said, it’s an alright song, but just alright. I really enjoyed the sinister feel of “Wrath of the Ancients” and the bombast of “Army of the Bear” which was another favorite from jump. Album closer “Departure” is another song with a pounding rhythm and driving guitar line that’ll have you ready to set sail in no time, as is “Sailor’s Accolade”. Again, I am so curious to see/hear this stuff live now that it’s not even funny.
Which brings me to “Path Through the Labyrinth”…a sprawling epic that spans 12 minutes and 52 seconds. This thing is all over the map, going from slow and steady to off to the races and then back again, with not a dull moment in between. I found myself wondering where we were headed next with each tempo change. With songs of this nature you run the risk of boring your audience, especially in 2014, when people have the attention span of a gnat, but that’s not the case here. The band manages to keep it fresh and interesting throughout.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album, and I’m pretty happy that my friends Maria and Natalie turned me onto SCYTHIA. Look for…Of Conquest in the very near future, and snag your copy quick as you can.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Reflections”, “Rise of the Kraken”, “Army of the Bear”, “Path Through the Labyrinth”, “Departure”, “Into the Storm”