Superstars in their native land, France's Eths are to release their third full-length, III, produced by Fredrik Nordström of Arch Enemy and In Flames fame. Apparently, their music "resembles a vital melting pot of Core, post-Korn Metal, orchestral and electronic elements" and has been described by some as metalcore. A quick listen confirms both descriptions, but repeat listens reveals a band that have devoted much time to getting to grips with their own sound and elevating it above the confines of imitation and genre mimicry to imagination and innovation. Okay, they do the clean, atmospheric bit with clean vocals, and they do the heavy bit with heavy vocals, and they do the mixing the clean with the heavy bit and vice versa, but they do all of this with a style that has something very different to the heaving mass of bands that seem intent (and content) to work within such tight and trite confines.
The opening keyboard note to 'Voragine' that sounds eerily like the opening drone from Kubrick's Clockwork Orange is rapidly taken over by brick wall drums, massive riffs, and a deeper-than-deep growl. Then comes the barrage of punishing riffs and relentless sledgehammer drumming with Candice's dulcet and melodic tones adding a ghost-like quality to the album. And as waif-like as she appears, lo and behold, she is the one behind the monstrous growls and almost black metal scowls. Her melodies are intriguing and her ability to shift between such disparate styles, to explore the vast range between them, to even combine elements of that range in unison, is another string to Eths' bow. She's not the only shining light in the band by any means. The riffs are tight and the two guitars are utilised for all the strengths that two guitarists can offer. Check opener 'Voragine' for example, where one chugging riff is countered by another, or 'Inanis Venter' for a fine example of multi-layered guitar. The bass is angry yet clear. The drums are sharp and dense. Where keys and electronics can usually kill an album – largely because no one in the band can play them properly or doesn't know how to use them effectively – here, they are perfectly balanced, augmenting the tracks with a sci-fi dimension.
The production means that every vicious hook, every serene melody, and every grunt and growl can be not just heard but felt. Having received critical acclaim for their previous album, Tératologie, Eths have done much to maintain the high standard of musicianship, song-writing, and creativity that earned them that status. III is magnificent.
- Gravis Venter
- Inanis Venter