[8/10] I love hearing bands who embrace the eclectic possibilities of different genres. Sometimes it works and at other times, it can be a colossal fail. In the case of Scythia, its full steam ahead with the traditional sounds of folk metal and the added twist of proggy elements to give their sound that adventurous edge. They have self-released a new EP For the Bear and it is a captivating, and heavier approach to storytelling, proving these Canadians are ready for the grand stage.
What you won’t find is the typical blood ‘n guts approach to fantasy metal, but instead a prolific attempt to create a world filled with lush moments and elegant melodies. For the Bear is essentially new material and re-recordings of previous material from their debut release. The intention here is to create a live feel with these recordings and presented here in a sharper and more aggressive feel. I would say that approach fits like a glove on “Sailor’s Accolade” (a new song) because of the up-beat tempo to make you sing a long in sheer delight. The other new song is the title track which essays the true essence of Viking lore and quantifies the amount of ale one would drink on a dark mid-winter’s night. It’s truly an infectious number and most definitely the highlight of the EP.
As for the re-recordings, “Fierce Riders of Scythia,” “Black Death” and “Dies Irae Pt 1” are all taken from the debut in 2010. The tracks are sounding great here and they all obviously benefit from being remixed. The songs flow well and when you add “Mattawa Reel” (the instrumental track) into the mix it rounds out an impressive track list. Although I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bombastic closing track of video game music culled together into a medley of a song appropriately titled “Video Game Medley.” The track incorporates themes from Wizards and Warriors 1, Castlevania, Skyrim and Final Fantasy VI – blending them together seamlessly much to the delight of any video game fanatic. It’s a fantastic way to cap off this amazing release.
Scythia proves they can utilize the live feel to their advantage to capture that special moment. True lovers of the folk metal genre will probably enjoy this release for a number of reasons. There’s great artwork to go along with it and more importantly, the band had a lot of fun recording this release. I anticipate big things from Scythia and look forward to their next full-length project.
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