Scythia – For The Bear

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Scythia

For The Bear - Self Released

Vancouver folk quartet Scythia has done much soul searching since their initial debut three years back.  After finally settling on a steady lineup and cast of instruments (the strings which remain an unfortunate casualty), the band has regrouped with a seven song introductory EP intended to capture their raw folk metal in its most authentic state.  Boasting two new songs and a handful of remixes, For The Bear is a celebration of what you might expect to hear from Scythia in present and future iterations.

To mark their current trajectory the EP kicks off with the brand new “Sailor’s Accolade,” setting the album’s pace and tone as an aggressor from the get go.  Ripe with killer guitar work and Dave Kahn’s unmistakable battle cry, the song spares no time taking to the high seas in a 16th century tale of a mariner outcast.  “For The Bear” takes to the land for a call to arms for a regiment of bear-riding medieval cavalry.  With ample shredding leading the charge, the band still finds plenty of downtime to showcase Morgan Zentner’s instantly recognizable ‘Obo of Death.’  It’s a balance that Scythia continues to improve with each new outing, these new additions being no different.

As for the remixes, they are likely the superior versions, but those already familiar may miss some of the studio flourishes purposely omitted for the sake of emulating the live experience.  Most notably the band remains without their original violinist so Zentner’s picks up the slack with her obo’s chant.  I’ve always been partial to the violin, but it’s hard to deny that Zentner isn’t a worthy successor.   In fact, “Fierce Riders Of Scythia” and “Black Death” arguably eclipse the original in immediate impact. “Dies Irae Pt. 1” is the only true regret – the violin’s sorrowful strokes and emotive range sorely missed.  But as far as guitar work goes, Scythia’s current talents are the clear winners.

“Videogame Medley” serves as a first for the band, dabbling in medieval aged metal applications of classic video games ranging from Castlevania to Zelda, Final Fantasy, and even Tetris.  It’s one of the EP’s clear highlights and an easy track to throw on to win over your friends to the ways of Scythia.

Overall For The Bear achieves what it sets out to accomplish.  The band showcases their latest sound across a range of tracks dating back to their initial releases.  That the band chose not to remake their debut album, …Of War, but rather update a few choice cuts, demonstrates their own respect for Scythia’s past work while acknowledging their current path.  A worthy installment in Scythia’s ongoing and ever-evolving lore for fans and newcomers alike.