‘armed with some seriously epic arrangements, it’s hard not to get caught up in the drama.’
‘a high-octane combo of power and symphonic metal that is all guts and bombast ...’
‘This is good. Very good! The Serpent’s Curse is a real light in the darkness of mediocrity.’
4.5/6 Zero Tolerance Magazine
Not for many a long year has a band awakened in the British Isles embodying the strong-willed determination, raw energy and relentless dedication that lie at the heart of all great heavy metal groups. Formed in 2007 by vocalist Emily Alice Ovenden and drummer Marc Dyos, Pythia began to forge a path through the masses of faceless bands that littered the music scene, united in their love of gothic and fantasy literature, the darker end of the classical spectrum and a burning desire to tell the world their tale through ear-splitting, gut-crunching heavy metal.
The band’s birth was seemingly inevitable when considering the band members’ individual backgrounds and musical pedigree. Emily grew up in a mock gothic castle, deep in the county of Cornwall and as the daughter of infamous ruralist artists, Graham and Annie Ovenden, creativity and artistry around her from her very beginnings. She began singing and writing both literature and lyrics at a very early age, the themes and imagery that surrounded her becoming an immediate and enduring inspiration. By the time Pythia came to be, Emily had already become a published author and made a name for herself in the classical music world as a member of number-one selling act Mediaeval Baebes.
Marc, along with guitarists Ross White and Tim Neale and bassist Andy Nixon-Corfield cut their teeth on the UK rock and metal scenes, gaining extensive and varied experience in numerous bands and projects, including Descent, Abgott and Head-On amongst others. Drawing on this experience, the boys infused Pythia’s music with thunderous power metal rhythms, searing thrash-inspired guitar riffs, soaring lead guitar work and even subtly placed extreme-metal devices, such as blast-beats and tremolo-picked black metal licks.
Pythia’s secret weapon in their siege on the music world is classically-trained maestro Richard Holland, whose keyboard and synthesiser work embellishes and enriches the Pythia sound, lifting it up to level that is truly epic.
The band made an immediate impact on the live circuit, bringing their powerful and dramatic performance to the UK stage at prestigious venues like the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Kentish Town Forum and The Electric Ballroom, in support of world-class acts such as Tarja Turunen, Fields of the Nephelim, Ministry and Threshold. Proving an instant hit with crowds and gaining new fans at every show, they quickly caught the eye of promoters in the UK and Europe leading to popular festival performances, not least of which was headlining the Sophie Lancaster stage at one of the UK’s largest metal festivals, Bloodstock Open Air in 2009. Paul Gregory, founder of Bloodstock had this to say on the selection of Pythia as the headliner: -
“Adding PYTHIA to the festival was a natural choice to represent the female Gothic community and the launch of the Sophie Lancaster Stage.
This stage is in memory of a young girl whose life was needlessly cut short by intolerance and mindless brutality. Sophie celebrated life through the music and lifestyle she chose, PYTHIA’s ideology mirrors this perfectly”.
In October 2009 Pythia unleashed their debut album upon the world. Beneath the Veiled Embrace won acclaim from critics and fans alike and captured in recorded form the energy and intensity that had made the band so popular with all those who had witnessed them live. Mixed and mastered by renowned producer Jacob Hansen, showcasing award-winning artwork from Hayley Madden, and featuring a guest appearance by actor and British institution Brian Blessed, the album was released worldwide through Genepool/Universal and received a plethora of favourable reviews and articles from various press outlets, including Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Terrorizer, Classic Rock, Bazaar, FAE and Powerplay. A first single came in the form of “Sarah (Bury Her)”, which featured a faithful cover version of classic Gary Moore song “Thunder Rising” as a B-Side, approved by Gary himself. Promotion of the single came via the band’s first music video, receiving airplay on both Scuzz and Lava Music TV channels in the UK and Europe.
Further notable festival performances in support of Beneath the Veiled Embrace took Pythia to Europe, proudly flying high the flag of British music at the Metal Female Voices and the Prog, Power and Metal Festivals in Belgium in 2010. In addition to these festival appearances, further European live exposure came in the form of a support slot with melodic death metal heavyweights, Arch Enemy.
Footage from this period was compiled together to create an exciting music video to accompany Beneath the Veiled Embrace’s second single, “Army of the Damned”. The song was also released as a downloadable track for the “Rock Band” video game series, with the level of difficulty of the track demonstrating just how technically accomplished the band are and proved a hit with gamers looking to test their Rock Band skills.
Other highlights from 2010 included Emily being featured as ‘Miss December’ in the Metal Hammer ‘Maidens of Metal’ 2010 calendar, the song “Sweet Cantation” being featured as Classic Rock Prog’s ‘Song of the Day’ and airplay and a featured interview on Bruce Dickinson’s BBC Radio 6 Rock Show.
2011 began with the news that an exclusive Japanese version of Beneath the Veiled Embrace would be released by Japanese record label, Spinning. The CD album featured new artwork and bonus tracks and received a healthy marketing push in the Land of the Rising Sun, leading to features in local magazines and impressive sales for a new foreign band’s debut album.
As the band began work on their second album, it was announced that Andy Nixon-Corfield would be departing from the band and so the band forged ahead with writing and recording their second album, minus a bass player. Tim performed double-duty on the album, playing all bass parts on the album as well as his lead guitar work.
To follow such a strong debut, the band clearly needed to raise the stakes in every area and their aspirations took form in the shape of the second chapter of their tale, The Serpent’s Curse. Again utilising the mixing and mastering talents of Jacob Hansen, The Serpent’s Curse delivered a darker, heavier and yet more immediate and accessible version of Pythia’s epic and emotional storytelling. Complementing the evolution of the music, imagery and album artwork was provided by legendary artist Brian Froud, renowned for his creations on no lesser work than Star Wars, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, with graphics and design developed and finalised by Gurdish Haugsdal. Band photography was provided by both the renowned Scott Chalmers and yet another great of their field, Clive Arrowsmith, who has photographed individuals as diverse as Kate Bush, Jeremy Irons and Christian Slater.
Shortly before the album release was announced, Pythia welcomed Mark Harrington into the fold as their new bass player. Mark brought with him extensive experience on the UK and European metal scene, having played with numerous bands and projects and being a member of technical metallers, To-Mera.
The first single from the album was “Betray My Heart”, released ahead of the album as a teaser for the album, left fans desperate for more. Accompanying the single was a haunting, gothic promo video filmed on location at St John’s Church in North London and receiving airplay again on Scuzz TV, as well as attracting large numbers of views on both Youtube and Playstation 3 Vidzone.
February 2012 saw the long-awaited UK and Japanese release of the album to widespread acclaim, with interviews and articles both in magazines and online, not least of which were reviews in Kerrang! And Zero Tolerance and 2-page features in the UK’s Metal Hammer magazine and Japan’s prestigious Burrrn! Magazine.
“One of 2012’s best symphonic metal releases”,
“May just be the most unique album of the genre for some time”
“Pythia kick fucking arse mate!”, “The best commercially viable band the British metal scene has produced since prime era Paradise Lost”, “Pythia have a shot at being huge”
93% Encyclopaedia Metallum.
“The Serpent’s Curse is a towering, magnificent creation… full of wondrous
and majestic busts of magic. It makes you wish all music was this surprising
and full of life” 10/10 Subba-Cultcha.com
Pythia began live support of The Serpent’s Curse with a series of impressive performances both headlining and in support of Austria’s Serenity and the mighty Dragonforce. The highlight of these shows was arguably the band’s blistering headline set for their album launch show at London’s The Borderline, to a packed-out and rapturous house.
At the time of writing, Pythia look forward to a return to the Bloodstock Open Air festival in August 2012 and continue to proudly wave the banner for British metal. In a time where marketing, industry politics and insubstantial music reign supreme, Pythia are amongst the last few hard-working, independent and sincere metal bands, singing, writing and playing from the heart, fighting to bring honest and true music to the listener and sweeping their fans along with them on their journey, their quest, their battle.
The Pythian Army will continue its ascendance, and endure....