||STEVE GÖLDBY'S METAL CHRONICLES
'Shadows Of A Broken Past'
Release Date: 8th December 2014
Album number three from the mighty Pythia and the first from the new line-up which debuted earlier this year and 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.
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"Metal in my hand, my heart grows stronger
I can stand my ground for that much longer"
'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.
"You were the thorn in my side, my ribbon of red
You said leave me alone but you stayed in my head"
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 rythym 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, 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.
"All the webs that spiders weave could never match the treacheries
All the stars up in the skies could not outshine the sacrifice"
'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.
(Almost) title track 'The Key' and album closer 'Broken Paradise' are strong, strong tracks that resonate long after the experience is completed and they'll leave you reaching frantically for the repeat button.
"You're here, there, everywhere
Never time to stop and stare
Live your life a broken queen
Kingdom built inside a dream"
There was a bonus EP to go with the album, however it is an extra and is not connected creatively to 'Shadows...' at all. It's a four track covers EP and was originally available free with a pre-order of the album and is not available any more, which makes it a bit of a rarity but it's worth mentioning and commenting on here as it's more than worth a listen.
The tracks covered are Fleetwood Mac's 'Little Lies', Iron Maiden's 'Only The Good Die Young', 'Stay' by Shakespeare's Sister including a really good guest vocal part by Niklas Isfeldt of Dream Evil and Tori Amos' 'Winter'. That's quite an eclectic mix of tracks but it works and works well. Hopefully these tracks will be somehow made available because they sit very comfortably in the Pythia portfolio.
"His love had died a year ago, a bullet in her breast
The deadly shot a warning that he soon would be next"
'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.
1. The King's Ruin
2. Sword Of Destiny
3. Moon On The Mountain
4. War Games
5. The Highwayman
6. Bring Me Home
7. Yellow Rose
8. Your Eternity
9. The Key
10. Broken Paradise
1. Little Lies
2. Only The Good Die Young
Emily Alice Ovenden: Vocals
Marc Dyos: Drums
Ross White: Guitars
Mark Harrington: Bass
Oz Wright: Guitars
Marcus Matusiak: Keyboards
Guest vocal on 'Stay' from Niklas Isfeldt of Dream Evil
Mixed and mastered by Jacob Hansen at Hansen Studios
'The Highwayman' features excerpts from the Alfred Noyes poem 'The Highwayman'
'Sword Of Destiny' features the words of Pope Urban II in 1095, performed by Brian Blessed
Additional Instrumentation on 'The Highwayman' performed by Anna Tam on the Viola da Gamba
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