Mythodea – Mythodea
Mythodea – Mythodea (2012)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Neo-classical powerhouse Mythodea is the brainchild of one Christos Nikolaou (Yes, that’s Greek), and supported by the prolific Steve DiGiorgio, vocalist John West, and drummer Charlie Zeleny. Other than the enigmatic Nikolaou himself, these are all names with an impressive resume, so how is the songwriting of the mastermind himself?
Well, it’s a similar vehicle to that which has been wheeled out of the garage a hundred times by the likes of Malmsteen, Artension, early Adagio, and Richard Andersson’s projects, but Mythodea’s heavily art music-influenced take on progressive power metal subgenre is surprisingly articulate and fresh feeling to me. Granted, I’m a newfound fan of John West’s voice (this year’s Artlantica album hooked me pretty good), but there’s a lot more at work here than just that.
Mythodea is an album of extremes. It is shamelessly grandiose throughout many of its refrains, unabashedly virtuosic in its guitar play, and wears its familiar chordal shifting and arpeggios as badges proclaiming time-honored tradition rather than self-important bits of showmanship. It is tall and proud, well-aware of the abilities of its members, and placing them squarely on display on big tracks such as “Mnemosyne”, opener “Another World”, and the gripping strains of “Asia”, a well-grounded song that introduces just enough Eastern tonality for a well-placed shift in sound, but not so much that it comes off as forced or artificial.
The other extreme, however, is one of subtle complexity and dynamic change, and of small but numerous deviations and/or embellishments upon well-established genre traditions. Rhythms are intricately varied across the album, and harmonies are rich, diverse, and rarely repeated. Whereas some might call early Symphony X, early Adagio, or a score of other “neo-classical” bands little more than “Malmsteen worship”, Mythodea is most certainly not such a simple and uninspired concept. It’s not that the guitar play is any more reserved – it’s just more varied, and the dials for vocals, keys, and more have also been cranked up. Mythodea succeeds in placing almost everything in the foreground for a more complete and engrossing symphonic metal experience.
Despite occasionally succumbing to rambling, and perhaps overambitiously expanding its focus without honing in on the memorability of individual sections, Mythodea has created a surprisingly listenable new take on a well-pounded out subgenre. I highly recommend this debut to any interested in neo-classical fusion, but tired of what the genre seems to be able to offer. Additionally, John West fans will definitely need to have this, as it feels like a natural, more bombastic extension of his work with Artlantica. Mythodea has a bright future ahead of itself with a first outing like this.
3.75 // 5