Everyday I receive dozens of links to promo albums from dozens of record companies and PR firms. I read the description of the bands music/genre and based on if the bands sound is in my wheelhouse, I give it a quick listen. When I received the promo for Scythia’s …Of Conquest, I read the short write up and the words “epic progressive metal with combined with folklore” stood out to me and I gave it a listen, and boy am I glad that I did! The band was formed in 2008 and took it’s name from the ancient Greeks, who gave the name Scythia (or Great Scythia) to all the lands north-east of Europe and the northern coast of the Black Sea, unknown to them in that era. If I were to describe Scythia’s sound I would say that it is power metal with elements of progressive metal and folk metal. There is certainly a cheese factor that cannot be denied, much in the same way as Alestorm and Gloryhammer. This is not meant to be an insult, rather it is a compliment for a band that plays some serious heavy metal but never takes itself too seriously.
Leading the charge is Fanfare 1516, a rousing, bombastic metal anthem with over the top dramatic vocals. The thunderous drums of Celine Derval kick off the epic story of the Merchant of Sin. The song covers the gamut of symphonic, folk, black, and power metal. Lead vocalist Dave Khan doesn’t have an amazing vocal range but his strength lies in his ability to get the story across in a passionate and powerful fashion not to mention his lead guitar skills. Derval’s double bass drum work is spectacular and adds power and energy. The albums first single/video is for Bear Claw Tavern, a fun, rousing metal drinking song with lots of folk metal influence and a great sing-a-long chorus! This is the first song I heard from Scythia and I was immediately struck by the humor and the catchiness of the tune. This song will have you singing and raising a mug of mead in celebration of all things metal! An accordion intro begins Sailor’s Accolade, another metal gem with a triumphant chorus. The breakdown on this song is a true headbanger’s delight. Listening to this song you can just imagine being on a Viking ship headed out to sea. Drummer Derval steps in front of the microphone for the beginning vocal lines of Reflections. Not only does she possess immense talent behind the kit, the lady can sing as well!! Khan takes over the vocal reigns to another folky power metal track with a 70’s prog feel to it. Rise of the Kraken is a thrashing whirlwind of majesty and glory about the hunt for the mighty Kraken. If that isn’t metal subject matter I don’t know what is! Symphonic metal elements permeate Into The Storm. Chugging guitar rhythms and harsh vocals add an element of black metal without sacrificing melody.
Land of Scythia has the band in full traditional folk metal mode. The song is epic in scope with great storytelling lyrics, and great harmony guitar section. The best way to describe it would be if Iron Maiden and Blind Guardian had a love child. Wrath of the Ancients has some excellent drum work by Derval and some excellent harmony guitar solos. Army of the Bear is a ferocious fist-pumping anthem loaded with excellent guitar harmonies and melodic and black metal vocal styles blend together perfectly. The albums lengthiest track, Path Through The Labyrinth clocks in at over 12 minutes and has melodic elements of Iron Maiden and the thrashy aspect of vintage Metallica while staying true to their own sound. Khan and Derval trade vocal lines quite effectively, weaving in and out from melodic clean vocals and black metal guttural screams. The band weave a tapestry of progressive time changes, cinematic orchestral sections, and straight up old school headbanging metal. The album closes with Departure, which has a fusion of straight ahead Maiden-esque metal and folk metal melodies and guitar harmonies. Khan transitions from melodic or “clean” vocals and harsh black metal vocals. …Of Conquest is the fourth release from the band hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, however as I am unfamiliar with their previous work, so I can’t speak to any changes in their sound or the recordings. However, I can say that Scythia’s …Of conquest is a very welcome surprise, an album that is loaded with killer musicianship, catchy metal songs, and most importantly, it’s just so damn fun to listen to! Right now the album is awaiting a February 2014 release and the band is planning on hitting the road in North America and beyond soon after. Once …Of Conquest is unleashed on the metal masses, expect to hear a lot more about Scythia!