Scythia – …Of Conquest
Scythia – …Of Conquest (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Well well well, look who’s back for another round. When last I left off with Canadian “folk” metallers (read: pretty much just heavy/power metal) Scythia, it was coming off of 2011’s …Of Exile, an unfortunately mediocre album, and one that didn’t leave too much of an impression on me, despite being a melting pot of good but half-shaped ideas. However, for …Of Conquest, Scythia has actually changed its formula somewhat substantially, while dropping its “Oboe of death” player and swapping out keyboardists; and you know what? The band actually acquits itself pretty darn well this time.
Big change number one for the band is planting the flag more firmly in power and melodic death metal territory. Rather than the strange, somewhat-disorganized ramblings of albums past, …Of Conquest is a bold, determined charge of mid- to fast-paced guitar and rhythm section. The wandering, restless feel of the compositions from …Of Exile remains – but in the best way possible. While this album actually boasts a number of highly successful, memorable, shout-along choruses, many of the songs feature expanded structure in comparison to power metal standards.
Lessening the attempt to include minimal, trendy “folk” elements, but further emphasizing the penchant for medieval fantasy lyricism that was on display in the past, Scythia builds up an extremely rowdy and fun-loving atmosphere throughout songs like “Army Of The Bear”, “Sailor’s Accolade”, and the fist-raising, unceremoniously delightful “Bear Claw Tavern”, which, though much different and simpler, calls to mind Dragonland’s mighty “Inn Of Eamon Bayle” in spirit.
…Of Conquest is, no two ways about it, just far more energetic than anything I’ve heard from the band in the past – and guitarist/vocalist Dave Khan is the epicenter of the phenomenal changes that are afoot. While I previously assessed his vocal efforts as “clumsy” and “thin”, neither of those words can be applied to his singing on this album. Sure, he’s still rough and no well-trained expert, but his vocals are commanding and possessed of a coarse appeal that does nothing less than an admirable job of fronting an album full of boisterous storytelling fun.
Quite frankly, I’m floored by the sheer amount of work that Dave and Scythia put into this new album, and just how great it sounds. I’m not the biggest fan of the harsh vocals that pop up with some frequency, but the symphonic sound samples are superb, the production is improved, the guitars are potent and at the fore, and the overall theme and feeling of the album is actually pretty rare and laudable. I recommend this to fans of power metal, especially those who appreciate a few folky elements, don’t mind harsh vocals, and look for storytelling or a good medieval fantasy theme. Scythia has definitely found its niche in the best way that I could have hoped, and I’m pretty excited about where the band is going.
3.75 // 5