Scythia – …of Exile
Release: 2011Sep23 (US)
Scythia have grand aspirations for their take on folk metal. The music catches your attention as does the cover art on their sophomore set …of Exile: initially interesting, but close examination reveals a flat, dim, and disproportionate execution. Plus, our badass hero has a pouty underbite, and Yogi looks like he’s yawning there—neither bode well.
They do try to keep things in epic scope with narration and multiple movements, but it needs the vivid imagery of bands like Rhapsody in Fire, or if not that, the sheer energy of the fantastical DragonForce. It’s not until we reach the “Forgotten Forest” that I really started to feel immersed in this album, but its awkward dynamic finishes with a wandering anticlimax. “The Fallen King” then tells his tale, but the straightforward delivery lacks spark. Overall, violinist Marisol Valerio is missed, and although Morgan Zentner’s oboe (of death) adds a welcome layer, the music must be denser through and through.
“Voice of the Sword” is the centerpiece, and strongest song on the album. The ‘voice’ itself is effective with a sinister Sauron-esque sound, and the background effects blend well. “For the King” is a worthy followup, with the best counterbalance between instruments; that is, until you arrive at “The Fortress”. A mighty forward siege begins with blackened throats, mostly maintained until the chorus, where drummer Céline Derval improves her harmony vocals.
The “Dies Irae” saga from their debut …of War continues here, and it mostly works. Again, they open with snarling riffage, rasped vocals, and a solid chorus. But the lyrics don’t keep my interest, the keyboards grow distractingly cheesy, and we’re finally told that the battle is over, but I don’t really feel it, y’know? It just feels forced on you, like the “Hobarth’s Inn” epilogue, which actually rhymes “Inn” with “in” (come on, dudes), then some comic relief character is thrown to us at the tail-end with a lame goat joke. Funny thing about reviewing, though: you do it long enough and the strangest patterns emerge, like the fact that my favorite song on the new Tom Waits album I recently limericked also mentions eating goats.
Well, who’s hungry then? Scythia is, and they have the potential to grow more fun like Korpiklaani or get serious like Eluveitie—the choice is theirs. But if mainman Dave Khan wants to continue, he has to find the right party for the quest who wield formidable weaponry, and learn the ancient roots of his Vancouver homeland. Perhaps a concept piece about one or more of the Coast Salish peoples?
Try: 6, 7, 8, 9
02. Spirit of the Quest
03. Sleeping Village
04. Forgotten Forest
05. Fallen King
06. Voice of the Sword
07. For the King
09. Dies Irae II