cd_review_pythia_beneaththeveiledembrace001008.jpg about%20-%20jpg.jpg reviews%20-%20jpg.jpg interviews%20-%20jpg.jpg gigs%20-%20jpg.jpg cd_review_pythia_beneaththeveiledembrace001006.jpg
Comprised of six talented musicians who have previously practiced their art in both the classical and metal genres, Pythia's lineup includes Emily Alice Ovenden of Mediaeval Baebes fame and ex-members of the likes of Abgott, and the now defunct Descent and Head On. However, here we have a very different band from the aforementioned as evidenced on debut album 'Beneath the Veiled Embrace'. Eschewing the cliché of an instrumental intro piece that so many other bands deem necessary to commence their albums, Pythia kick off in bombastic fashion. As the first bars of opening track 'Sweet Cantation' burst forth, their sound is discernibly rooted in Finnish symphonic power metal stylings à la Sonata Arctica and 'Oceanborn'-era Nightwish which is, to be honest, pretty generic. But then, just under two minutes in, the track breaks down into a basic palm-muted riff that becomes layered with pure musical sublimity as haunting keyboard melodies are played over an effectively dark chord progression that underlies Ovenden's alluring voice in what sounds like, to my ears, a skilful piece of vocalising in the Phrygian mode. It's an unexpected twist in the composition and a theme that is repeated at the end of the song. Now Pythia have my attention good and proper. Symphonic power metal influences rear their head during sporadic passages of other tracks, although there is so much more to Pythia than pastiche of a tired, self-reflective subgenre. Elements of darkly melancholic down-tempo Paradise Lost inspired goth metal (goth metal in its original conception, that is); occasional bursts of thrash riffing; and nods towards classic metal and rock of yore are all audible, but always melodically rich and, for the most part, aurally engaging. There are even undertones of Therion such as on 'Eternal Darkness' where the chorus is reminiscent of an up tempo 'Black Sun'. Already a fan of Mediaeval Baebes, it's good to hear Ovenden's voice not only in a different context, but exploring the more powerful, wider range of which she's evidently capable. Her lyrics are also a provocative expression of Pythia's Gothic aesthetic, which read like skilfully crafted poetry without becoming pretentious in any way. Brian Blessed - yes that's right, Brian Blessed, the melodramatic bearded one - even crops up at one point; his voice already immortalised in rock music history, of course, with the oft-parodied "Gordon's alive!" sound bite in Queen's 'Flash'! Here, he recites Siegfried Sassoon's famous WWI poem 'Suicide in the Trenches' at the end of 'Army of the Damned' in his inimitable style of enunciation. I would love to see him up onstage with the band at some point performing this part in full costume and concomitant dramatic hand gestures! I can't recall the last time a new British act burst onto the scene so emphatically with such determined intent as Pythia. A professional image in both their appearance as a band, and the CD artwork, photography, logo etc, and already earning prestigious support slots for Tarja Turunen, Ministry, Fields of the Nephilim and Threshold; they have certainly made a positive impression amongst metal fans from the off. However, I refrain from scoring this debut offering higher than 8 as I feel they have much better to offer. That said, 'Beneath the Veiled Embrace' is a mightily fine slab of Gothic-themed metal (note - Gothic-themed metal, rather than generically Goth Metal), and Pythia have the potential to become huge.
Golden Axe Records
Review by Mark Holmes
12th Oct 2009
1) Sweet Cantation
2) Sarah (Bury Her)
3) Tristan
4) Ride for Glory
5) My Pale Prince
6) Eternal Darkness
7) What You Wish For
8) Oedipus
9) Army of the Damned
10) No Compromise
"I can't recall the last time a new British act burst onto the scene so emphatically with such determined intent as Pythia."