Pythia - The Solace of Ancient Earth
Golden Axe
Gothic Symphonic Power Metal
10 songs (54' 23")
Release year: 2019
Reviewed by Andy

It would be easy to write off London's Pythia as one of the dime-a-dozen Nightwish clones that infest the gothic symphonic genre, particularly if one doesn't like that kind of music, but in spite of the operatic trappings, the band has usually been good for more of a power metal sound than the poppy sound of the second-raters. The Solace of Ancient Earth is better still. The soloing continues to be excellent, the melodies are quiet good, and the new leading lady brings a fine set of pipes to the table.

Though I'm normally not a huge fan of opera vocals, Pythia has always done it well, leaving the heavy part to the guitars instead of bringing in the usual "beauty and the beast" counterpoints with a male death metal singer. This practice continues here, and it pays off; though longtime vocalist Emily Alice Ovenden was a fan favorite, her replacement has a voice worthy of the material. Sophia Dorman's soprano mostly stays up in the high ranges, but occasionally dives down to support the lower end of the melody. Fluttering in and out of the same range, almost as if in a duet, is the guitar soloing, high-speed stuff of the Northern European power metal school. Occasionally the band hits something like Ancient Soul, where Dorman kills it on the melody, but even when the band's just crunching power chords, there's not a single mid-tempo snoozer on the album.

Once in a while, Pythia seems out of its comfort zone on the otherwise teflon-slick melodies, most noticably on Ghost in the Woods. Melodically, the chorus seems to toss a curveball to Dorman, who chases the tune to bottom of her range and barely, just barely manages to match it up with the instruments. I like what the band did on it, but they had to stretch to get there. They rise back to their smooth competence with the mixed power-metal/ballad Crumble to Dust, an odd amalgam that begins and ends with something almost as sugary as Sleeping Sun, but spends most of its time riffing at top speed instead.

The Solace of Ancient Earth is nothing new for its genre, but it's competently executed and avoids the most annoying pitfalls of symphonic power metal. It's certainly worth a listen.

Killing Songs :
Ancient Soul
Andy quoted 80 / 100
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