Pythia – The Serpent’s Curse

April 13, 2012 in Reviews by blackwindmetal

The Serpent’s Curse

The UK’s Pythia first came on my radar a couple of years ago via a friend of mine who had discovered them on YouTube.  I took a look at a few of their offerings but found what I heard to be rather meh.  But I heard such positive things about their new album, The Serpent’s Curse, which came out in February, that I decided to give them a second chance.  And boy am I glad I did, because The Serpent’s Curse is a wicked album.

The first song, “Cry of Our Nation”, is a battle anthem if there ever was one.  It draws the listener in with a gentle acoustic intro, and then blasts into a fast, bombastic hymn, that, were you on a battlefield facing an army of British warriors  belting this tune out, you’d be shaking in your boots and running fast in the other direction.  “God will not save you from the flame” the lyrics claim.  “God will not save you.  God will not answer to your name.  God will not save you!”  Yeah, this song is so powerful it sent shivers down my spine, and it really put me in the mind of this historical fiction series about Boudicca I’m reading, which is filled with epic battle scenes as the British natives risk everything they have to resist the Roman occupation of their lands.  I loved the connection I made here because it brings relevance to the music and my experience of it.

This song was a great re-introduction to the band, who has at its helm the golden vocals of Emily Ovenden, who also sings with the Mediaeval Baebes.  She has a lot of power and depth in her voice.  Pythia’s sound is also very keyboard-based; “Cry of Our Nation” features a harpsichord-like synth sound, adding a medieval feel to the song.  This appears in other songs, too, kind of like a narrative line-through.  Also, Pythia’s sound includes some nice acoustic guitar sections that break up the bombast just a bit here and there and add to the overall atmosphere of the album.

The one aspect of Pythia’s style that I really enjoyed in this CD was their use of backing vocals.  Throughout the album, backing vocals are used to heighten tension, create atmosphere, and increase sense of drama.  These effectively add multidimensional layers to the songs and the experience of the music.  While there were some choirs used for punch here and there, the background vocals were evidently very well thought out.  There aren’t just harmonies in there; the counter-melodies are fantastic.  “Long Live the King” is a great example, as is “Our Forgotten Land.”

So it’s the little details I noticed in The Serpent’s Curse that made it stand out to me.  There really are no filler songs on this CD, either.  Every tune is well-crafted, catchy, and epic in its own way.  While darker than most symphonic power metal (check out “My Perfect Enemy”, for instance), the songs here have so much power and character that The Serpent’s Curse has earned its place in my regular rotation, and I am very grateful I gave these guys another go-around because I’m now officially a fan.

Allyson’s rating: 4.0 out of 5