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

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

"...Of Exile" track listing:

1. Prelude (3:57)
2. Spirit of the Quest (5:23)
3. Sleeping Village (1:39)
4. Forgotten Forest (6:31)
5. Fallen King (5:36)
6. Voice of the Sword (6:42)
7. For The King (5:09)
8. Fortress (4:25)
9. Dies Irae II (7:40)
10. Hobarth's Inn (3:34)

Reviewed by on September 20, 2011

"Scythia has successfully created what truly is 'movie score metal' with a style that is a confluence of Russia’s Beer Bear, Elvenking, and early Uriah Heep."

Canadian folk band Scythia is back with the sophomore independent release “…Of Exile.” Scythia has successfully created what truly is “movie score metal” with a style that is a confluence of Russia’s Beer Bear, Elvenking, and early Uriah Heep. A myriad of folk instruments perfectly capture medieval times accented by a veil of 70’s progressive rock that temporarily shrouds a sound deeply rooted in metal.

“…Of Exile” tells the tale of a Scythian king (likely based on Scylas who ruled in 5 B.C.) whom his own people had exiled. The album chronicles his journey back to reclaim the throne using a possessed sword. For history buffs, Scythia ruled a territory that covered the southern half of modern day Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine. The Scythians took part in some major events in history like the introduction of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem and major conflicts between Romans and Jews.

Musically, “…Of Exile” is extremely well played and highly engaging slab of folk metal. The uncanny ability to create an aggregate of folk, metal, and 70’s progressive rock is not an easy task. Just when Scythia seems buried in medieval mire, the band tears off the deceptive lull and charges forth with full tilt metal blasts like “Voice Of The Sword,” “Fallen King,” and the album’s best track “Dies Irae II.” The latter incorporates the fantastic backing vocals of drummer Celine Derval. The album feels like Conan the Barbarian, betwixt narration a la The Wizard.

My main issue is with the mix. The guitars are a bit buried in contrast to the folk instruments, which overpower some of the songs. The end result is a “lightening” of the heavier aspects rather than balancing or accenting the overall sound (best heard in “Forgotten Forest”). It is doubtful that this is a byproduct of the promo copy, which usually is a diminishment of the total sound as opposed to merely one part of a mix.

The only other issue is in vocal delivery. For the most part, guitarist/vocalist Dave Kahn blends nicely with the sound (see “Spirit Of The Quest,” “Forgotten Forest,” and “Dies Irae II”). He certainly doesn’t have the best set of pipes, but this is not a requirement/prerequisite for metal (remember Tim Baker from Cirith Ungol?). However, a more powerful vocal would have been a better choice when the song/story takes a turn for the sinister (as in “Voice Of The Sword” and “Fortress”).

Scythia is a group composed of skilled musicians and storytellers. The band marries styles of folk, metal, and progressive rock to bring a tasty slice of movie score music that is sure to thrill fans of Elvenking, Tengwar, and Dalriada. With the right mix and the backing of a label, Scythia would quickly climb into the upper echelon of folk metal’s best.

Highs: Engaging story and skilled musicianship.

Lows: The mix buries the heaviness at times and the vocal delivery on sinister characters could be better.

Bottom line: Scythia is the offspring of an unholy threesome of Beer Bear, Elvenking, and Uriah Heep.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)