Pythia - Shadows of a Broken Past (Own Label)

High quality metal AND Brian Blessed? Count us in!

Shadows of a Broken Past is album number three from the mighty Pythia and the first from the new line-up which debuted earlier this year and it has instantly improved an already well-oiled, efficient metal machine.

So after the success of predecessor The Serpent's Curse from 2012 and debut album Beneath The Veiled Embrace from 2009, can the new line-up transfer the upsurge in energy and performance to vinyl? Or CD or whatever format you choose to listen in these days...

A resounding "yay" is the answer because while the previous two offerings more than still stand up, Shadows... brings a new sense of dramatic urgency via the musicianship and a sharper cutting edge in both the lyrics and songcraft. Shadows... is more metal and contains more faster paced/harder numbers than the previous albums yet it still retains the mystical qualities that made Pythia a standout band in the first place. Of course, frontlady Emily Ovenden's unique vocal is responsible for a lot of that mysticism but the music speaks volumes also.

The intro to album opener The King's Ruin tells you that you are about to embark upon an epic journey of great adventures, hard battles and glorious conquests and once the track kicks in, you are left in no doubt that you are engaging with total quality musicianship and precision songwriting and delivery here. Lyrically, this album has passion, pain, ecstacy, emotional torture, heartbreak and hope, plus story telling to an expert standard. Take standout track The Highwayman and engross yourself in the harped intro, the legendary Celtic rhythm and the tale itself because it is captivating.

The same could be said for previous track War Games where the interplay between the guitar and keyboards is a delight to behold and just as on the first album, Brian Blessed makes an appearance with words spoken by Pope Urban II in 1095, on the intro to Sword Of Destiny, a track that is a nailed on certainty to feature in the live set when the band tour the album in 2015.

Your Eternity is the longest song that Pythia have ever recorded, clocking in at over seven-and-a-half minutes, and it's a highly complex and interesting listen and does not outstay it's welcome. Rather, it retains your interest throughout, especially with that clever mood change and possibly the best guitar solo on the whole album.

Every song on Shadows... brings something different to the album and contributes in its own way towards making this the most intriguing album yet from Pythia. Shadows Of A Broken Past has fantastic production throughout and is a well presented and well thought out, intelligent album. It's a natural progression from the previous two albums and sits alongside them as the crowning glory of the trio, the pinnacle of the band's output in what is still the early part of their career.

Shadows of a glorious future would have been more appropriate.

 

Shadows of a Broken Past is out now.