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

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

"...Of Conquest" track listing:

1. Fanfare 1516
2. Merchant of Sin
3. Bear Claw Tavern
4. Sailor's Accolade
5. Reflections
6. The Kraken
7. Into the Storm
8. Land of Scythia
9. Wrath of the Ancients
10. Army of the Bear
11. Path Through the Labyrinth
12. Departure

Reviewed by on March 7, 2014

"From top to bottom the album pulsates with raw energy and pure passion for a truly remarkable sound."

For years I could tell that Canada’s Scythia was on the border of breaking out. The first two releases “…of War” and “…of Exile” were progressively better than each other. It was the 2012 EP “For the Bear” that signaled a turn in the sound for the band, for what would eventually become the stand out release “…of Conquest.” It is not as if the band stumbled upon some new and great formula. In fact, Scythia took the best elements of Turisas and Alestorm, added the adrenaline and quickness of Finntroll, and then applied it like war paint on an existing base sound.

With the sound, all the elements hidden in the material turn up all at once. It's like Brent Spiner's character Dr. Okun in Independence Day: "But since these guys started showing up, all the gizmos inside turned on." With clarity of sound, the material is big and exciting, proving that half the battle is actually in perfecting sound. “…of Conquest” is by far the best Scythia album and if I may use the above comparison, it blows away the hapless piece of garbage that is known as “Turisas2013.”

“Fanfare 1516” starts the madness with blaring keys that sound like they came straight off “Stand Up and Fight.” It’s a ball of energy shot like an arrow from a lashed horde of longships. The sound improvement has such an immediate impact that I openly yelled “Now THAT is what an album should sound like!” A look at the press release revealed Lasse Lammert as producer and engineer – well, of course than, that was all the convincing I needed… Lammert is a genius.

From there on, the material showed marked progression and improvement, in terms of songwriting, memorability, and absolute fun. Suddenly, Scythia has thrust itself into the upper echelon of folk metal acts in the world. Dave Khan’s vocals and guitar have never sounded better and Jeff Black’s keyboard work does much more than expound upon the band’s formula – it drives it home. The guitars are tuned to a nice crunch and the atmosphere stein filled and beer soaked…you cannot help but get caught up in all the fun with tracks like “Bear Claw Tavern,” “Into the Storm," "Army of the Bear" and the album’s two best “Rise of the Kraken” and the brilliant long player “Path Through the Labyrinth” – a near 13 minute epic. From top to bottom the album pulsates with raw energy and pure passion for a truly remarkable sound.

If you think folk is played out and Viking, and by proxy pirates, are silly and have no place being taken seriously in music, Scythia may not grab you on the image…but the band will certainly have you thinking otherwise with the music. If you enjoy exciting jacked up and bombastic anthems, crisp sharp guitar work with thrilling leads all wrapped up with the best accentual and melody dizzying keyboards and gang choruses – “…of Conquest” will just about satisfy your every need. It is the album that was always in these talented Canadians, and it is so nice to see finally see potential realized all at once! The album was aptly named – this was a conquest.

Highs: High octane folk metal with a sound that unlocks all the potential.

Lows: If folk metal and tales of Vikings is overplayed, it will not appeal to you.

Bottom line: First there was Scythia...then there was sound....then Scythia "conquered" sound!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)