The Serpent’s Curse
Golden Axe Records
27 February 2012
by David Keevill
Shrill-enthusiast and intermittent bat botherer Emily Ovenden has returned with her bombastic rabble Pythia on their second full length album, The Serpent’s Curse. Despite the record retaining a pace reminiscent of the thrust capacity of an Iranian Jurd, this is a remarkably unremarkable effort from the London sextet.
Progression from their last album, Beneath the Veiled Embrace, has been undeniably glacial, but what they have changed may not have been entirely to their benefit; gone are the floating nuances of ‘Sarah (Bury Her)’ and its irrepressible poppy tinge, replaced instead by tracks that endlessly gallop with very little structural complexity. The album’s opening number, ‘Cry of Our Nation’, illustrates this perfectly, with the melodramatic peak reached with a chorus lyrics declaring “God will not save you” while the music ploughs along, relentlessly. In other places, the album carries the undeniable whiff of a resoundingly unambitious Nightwish, with ‘Betray My Heart’ suffering from the the kind of sanitised production that has taken the edge off any kind of emotional clout it could’ve wielded.
With that all said, by far the severest crime of the album is ‘Heartless’, which gives us a perfect demonstration of the kind of lyrical flatulence a band can guff out when they’re straining too hard to shit out some angsty piece of rhetoric: “It’s not your fault you cannot love me, you are not to blame. I never told you I was heartless. I’m heartless”.
Watch the video to ‘Betray My Heart’ by Pythia:
The album does provide some reasons not to write it off as another flimsy attempt by a British band trying to smash its way into an arena already saturated with symphonic metal bands. ‘Kissing the Knife’ smoulders with the intent of its dark lyrics and the off-kilter music, and ‘Long Live The King’ blasts an cheese-tinged opening barrage, only to open to a chorus that sounds like the kind of soaring fare that Ovenden usually shares with her other band, the Mediæval Babes. These songs benefit from embracing music that isn’t so overtly melodramatic, and gives the impression that if Pythia weren’t taking themselves so seriously, they’d be creating music without endlessly vacuous bombast.
With the monstrosity of ‘Heartless’ aside, you could count the faults of Pythia and their second release on one hand. This isn’t really engaging music; blasting through an album without a hint of a ballad is admirable and distinguishes Pythia from legions of pompous Nightwish acolytes, yet in spite this nice change of tact, the dense, cantering shunt of The Serpent’s Curse isn’t dynamic or varied enough for any of the songs to hold your attention for long.
Sounds Like: Nightwish, Kamelot.
Standout Track: Long Live the King.