Pythia + Mortad + L Sol Tace
30th June 2012
Yes, yes we are late with this review, but sometimes computer demons get the better of all of us. Nick Holmes made the trek with Tess up to London to see Pythia, and with a set due at 17.20 this Friday on the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock we felt it was an appropriate time to get the review up to give you an idea of Pythia in anticipation of BOA 2012.
Words: Nicholas Holmes
Photos: Tess Donohoe (www.tessdonohoe.com)
Even during such a washout of a summer one place guaranteed to be hot, humid, sweaty and smelly is the London Borderline. On the edge of Soho and Shaftesbury Avenue theatre district, it is literally an underground club. On a recent previous visit it reeked of putrefaction. Puke too, and that was an indie music night. The air seems a little fresher than that occasion, but will it last?
L Sol Tace have the job of opening for two of the most talked about female-fronted metal bands of the moment, and their lack of feminine touch is made up for by all out noise. Though vocalist Anton does wear eyeliner, and vaguely resembles his “Satanic Bible”-writing namesake with his shaved head and impressive beard. He snarls in a sort of black metal style and the band make a heavy, groovy kind of racket. Good stuff.
Being unfamiliar with Mortad before this gig turned out to be a bonus. They make an incredible and occasionally bizarre sound. Musically, they play a kind of melodic death/thrash metal which includes full-on heavy breakdowns with huge cymbal crashes and guitar solos that poodle-haired 1980s stadium rockers would be proud of. It works. Then there is their vocalist, Iran-born Somi Arian. A some time model and fitness enthusiast, she looks amazing in an outfit that includes white sprayed on-style leggings and black boots. Her delivery is truly feral. The fury that spills out of her is not about typical death metal fare, but words that rant about everything from betrayal to the repressed lives lived by her countrymen and media ideals of women's looks. Somi pauses to remind the audience that concerts like this are banned in Iran, and can result in long prison sentences and worse. There is obvious and genuine anger on display in tracks such as “The Heights” and the mighty title track of their debut album, “The Myth of Purity”. She also tells the audience there is “nothing more important than being yourself.” Absolutely true. A very impressive band indeed.
Last time Pythia played this venue, there was a mood of excited tension when they launched their well-received second album, “The Serpent's Curse”. Tonight, there is a very different atmosphere. While looking demure in a beautiful dress and tiara, front-woman Emily Ovenden makes her intention clear from the start. As a Celtic-tinged intro tape plays, she leads her troops out and raises a medieval-style chalice above her head before taking an enormous gulp from it. Tonight we will, as Pink Floyd once said, see Emily play.
Following an opening double salvo of “Betray My Heart” and “Sara (Bury Her)”, the party spirit is really kicking in. “Are you here to hear some heavy metal? Horns up! Come on! Louder!” she demands. “Kissing The Knife” and “Army of the Damned” follow, before slow-building “The Serpent”. The increasingly exuberant singer pauses to ask, “Seen the video? We froze our fucking arses off on a mountain in winter! Pay me in Jagermeister! I got a babysitter!” The last being a reference to her recent state of motherhood, this was one night off to be savoured.
“Cry of Our Nation” builds up and releases, and they close with “The Heartless”. “Half an hour to get drunk!” screams Emily, “I want to say hello to everyone! I'm off the fucking leash, people!” Then it goes a bit Spinal Tap. Emily dashes off and there is confusion as Sepultura's “Territory” plays on the PA. It is still relatively early, and the audience cheer and shout for more. The band return, and Emily laughs “Fucking hell! We never get an encore! Normally we're supporting.” She is interrupted by a screech of feedback and everyone laughs. “Fire the sound-man! Oh, he's my husband. I can't!” She then leads what she calls “a little sing song” in the defiant form of “No Compromise”. This was a much more confident show than the album launch in February, with Pythia sounding tighter but also more at ease. The hilarious spectacle of Emily in full-on party mode made it a fantastic night. Thankfully no putrefaction or puke this time, instead the air filled with metal and merriment. Brilliant fun!
Pythia play the Sophie Lancaster Stage at Bloodstock Festival Friday 10th August at 17.20 Tickets are on sale now, go to wwww.bloodstock.uk.com for more info.