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Pythia: Beneath The Veiled Embrace

Hot on the heels of their excellent debut single "Sarah (Bury Her)", comes UK the first full length release from UK power metallers Pythia, Beneath The Veiled Embrace. A release which puts Nightwish, Kamleot and Serenity in a blender and comes out with a rather tasty concoction. As is very much the fashion of the day Pythia have enlisted a classically trained young lady to front the band and Emily Alice Ovenden, who also performs with classical outfits Medieval Baebes and Celtic Legend, is a convincing and compelling focal point. Her impressive range and ability to dance between a rich powerful roar and a faint fragile whisper, brings colour and dynamics to the music in a way that a less blessed singer could not.

Opening the album with the uncompromising gallop of "Sweet Cantation" is an inspired declaration of intent as Ross White and Tim Neale nail a diving, swooping riff to a furious beat and Ovenden immediately displays her undoubted vocal prowess. A lone bell tolls and everything is stripped back to a bare riff and a sweet, seductive vocal lulls you into a relaxing false sense of security, then BANG, we are of at a pace again. For the opening track on a debut album it really is quite a statement and when it is followed by the aforementioned single and album highlight "Sarah (Bury Her)" with its infectious hook and rock solid rhythm from Marc Dyos behind the kit and Andy Nixon-Corefield on bass, it really is a quick one-two that makes you sit up and take notice. "Tristan" and "Ride For Glory" continue the swift sharp tempo, mixing bags of atmosphere with the careering guitars and drums. Ovenden continually impresses with her strong insistent approach, however as the album buries its way into your mind it becomes more apparent just how integral Richard Holland's innovative and fresh keyboard playing is to why Pythia manage to sound both familiar and new at the same time. Whether it's a short harpsichord fill, an eerie introduction, or just the atmospheric melodies sweeping the music along, his contribution is vital to the band.

"My Pale Prince" has an atmospheric flowing guitar/keyboard trade off, however it is the interesting vocal arrangements that steal the show. Ovenden's layered vocals swirl round as she calls and replies with a sound that just envelopes you. Quite wonderful, especially when musically the track still manages to tear along at a rate of knots. Bringing the pace down a notch, "Eternal Darkness" is a welcome slower moment that happily gives every member of the band the chance to shine with a punchy bass line, swathes of keys, a shuddering beat and sublime guitar solos. It is this ability to change tempo of not just the album but within the tracks themselves that keeps Beneath the Veiled Embrace invigorating. "What You Wish For" and "Oedipus" continue to illustrate that point perfectly with their slower beat and more laid back approach setting the album up to finish as it began.

With its cries of battle and a spoken word outro from renowned English actor Brain Blessed, best remembered for his role in the Flash Gordon movie ('Gordon's Aliiiiiiive!'), "Army of the Damned" has added gravitas, even though it still crashes along and contains one of the best guitar solos on the album. Closing track "No Compromise" strips right back down with Ovenden flitting between the quirkiness of Kate Bush and the power of Tarja over concise riffs and a gentle fragile keyboard line before ending on a beautifully melancholic note.

With Beneath the Veiled Embrace Pythia have taken some tried and tested themes and given them a fresh and interesting twist. It would be a stretch to call their debut album original or ground breaking, however there is more than enough on it to convince that they will not simply be content to follow in the wake of the genre's leading bands for long.

Track Listing
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

Added: September 20th 2009
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Pythia online
Hits: 1524
Language: english

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