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Scythia - "...Of War" (CD)

Scythia - "...Of War" CD cover image

"...Of War" track listing:

1. Caspian Rhapsody
2. Fierce Riders of Scythia
3. The Black Death
4. Red Wizard
5. Elegy
6. Adamantium
7. Dies Irae Pt. 1
8. Warrior’s Anthem
9. Epilogue

Reviewed by on September 22, 2010

"While Vancouver, Canada’s Scythia offers up nothing new to folk metal with its debut album '...Of War,' the band does manage to abandon the genre’s stereotypical image and crafts an impressive debut ripe with musicianship."

Folk metal is a genre that is, at times, hard to take seriously. From the many bands that put priority on their over the top imagery before songwriting, folk metal as a form of music has become diluted and repetitive. While Vancouver, Canada’s Scythia offers up nothing new to folk metal with its debut album “...Of War,” the band does manage to abandon the genre’s stereotypical image and crafts an impressive debut ripe with musicianship.

While the lyrics and vocal style presented here can be found throughout the folk metal world, what sets Scythia apart from the others is its specific attention to quality musicianship. The music is adventurous, creative, and epic. The songs, while metal in nature, constantly employ the beautiful textures of real piano and in-the-flesh violin, which is fantastic. “Of War” comes across as a battle between the musical worlds of Finntroll and Dream Theater; folk metal clashes with spontaneous progression. Songs like “The Black Death” and “Adamantium” demonstrate this progressive folk metal fusion perfectly and are highly recommended.

There is one thing about these songs, and the others on the disc, that takes “Of War” to the next level and will surely catch the attention of any listener. The violin work on the album is phenomenal and often outshines every other instrument. The violin weaves and gallops around each track with ease. From the incredibly technical sections to the slow, somber leads the violin adds an element to Scythia’s sound that will become instantly identifiable.

There are some problems with “Of War” though. While the second half of the album sounds great for a debut self-released effort, the first four tracks are often impacted by fluctuating volume levels and in a few instances it seems as if sections of the instruments cut out, seeming very out of place. There are also moments where the vocals feel forced and slightly awkward with its medieval themed approach. With that said, Scythia is a young band which has many years ahead of it to grow and fine tune the sound. For a self-released debut, “Of War” is an album that will turn heads in the folk metal scene.

“...Of War” is a folk metal album that any current fan of the genre will surely enjoy. Not only that, but Scythia provides an open door to those who want to get into folk metal without being bombarded with its ridiculous imagery. “Of War” is a debut from a young band rich in ideas and fluent in technical ability, enough so to give this genre the boost it needs to become relevant in metal once again. The combination of folk, symphonic, progressive, and classical elements make for an impressive debut and with a stronger focus put towards the production aspect for future releases, Scythia will become a threat in the folk metal scene.

Highs: Fantastic songwriting and technical ability.

Lows: The vocals could use some work and there are a few audio problems.

Bottom line: An impressive debut from a band soon to make a name in folk metal.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)