There’s no denying it, I’ve heard a lot of Symphonic Metal over many years (it wasn’t even called Symphonic Metal when I first got into it…) and I’m sure I’m not alone in recognizing how some bands from specific countries have a familiar way of delivering it. Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland, America – they all seem to have a slightly different approach and the UK is no exception. Maybe it’s growing up in a European country with historically very little support for the genre, but the influences displayed especially by Pythia do certainly differ, however subtly from their Euro-counterparts. Maybe it’s Symphexit…
As well as their trademark heaviness, Pythia have an underlying darkness to their music, a very energetic & technical approach to tempo and generally a unique take on symphonic vocals. Indeed, I waxed lyrical on these hallowed pages back in 2014 about previous album “Shadows Of A Broken Past” being Emily Alice Ovendon’s most accomplished and varied vocal performance for Pythia to date. So in eagerness to sample the next chapter of the Pythia saga I decided to play this new opus without reading anything about it. Ms. Ovendon has certainly changed on this one! Quite literally in fact (I really must read the info first…), ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to Pythia, new vocalist supremo Sophie Dorman! And she is good! Possessing a slightly more accessible tone, but with much of the vocal flamboyance of her predecessor, this is on the surface a slightly different Pythia.
There are still the twists and turns in the music, the theatrical bombasity still evident, but I feel that around this the vocals hold the whole thing together, reel it all back in when things get frenetic or OTT rather than going with it as they did previously or trying to sometimes compete. The vocals keep the listener initially grounded, give you something to latch onto immediately rather than it all going past in somewhat of a frenzied, pummelling blur, as sometimes happened before. Pythia 2019 still have all their previous qualities, but now an extra depth and level – it’s the best of both worlds! Everything seems just a little…”more” this time around – there is a little more melody, yes, but equally there are even quicker, heavier passages too (‘Hold Of Winter’ is an absolute monster of a Speed Metal powerhouse that even has blast-beats!). The riffs seems crisper, the vocals clearer and everything is just a tiny bit…more…dynamic.
Pythia are British and Pythia are just that little bit different – is that because they are British or just because they are Pythia? I’d like to think it’s a bit of both, but if you are Symphonic Metal fan that likes the heavier end of things then check this album out and judge for yourself. Pythia are flying the flag for Symphonic Metal in the UK – there are so few bands of their ilk from old Blighty, and in my previous review I searched endlessly for the poignant and thoughtful way I ended that one, so 4 years later and having heard this great band take another step forward I would like to echo my previous ponderous musings by re-stating – Yaaaaay! Wooohoooo! Yes, yes, yes, YES! Yeeeeaaahhh! In your FACE all you other countries – This lot are OURS! You can share them if you like! HA!!! …ahem…and once again, thank you.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)