ETHS are a band I had never heard of before, but will not soon forget. This group from France, newly led by by the lovely Rachel Aspe, are one of the freshest takes on deathcore and djent I have heard in some time. 'Ankaa' delivers on all levels, nearly blowing off my toupe at the first notes of Nefas (you know...like the music is so modern it makes me feel old :-P). It's like iwrestledabearonce was in some hideous accident and were rebuilt Robocop style.
First of all, Ms. Aspe, please call and don't tell my wife. I'm simultaneously aroused and mortified by you. You caress my eardrums in silky French halfway through Nixi Dii only to go nuclear and blow me backwards with your screams like in that Aphex Twin music video.
And while the various screams, growls, and general creepiness could continue to be compared to Courtney LaPlante, Rachel brings a certain folk-like, regional quality to the music at that is quite unlike any other vocalist in the genre. It's no wonder she made waves with her surprising performance on a televised French talent show. Suffice it to say, whether screaming or singing this is one frontwoman who has her performance on lock. Case in point, Vae Victis.
But hey, this is a review of ETHS, not Rachel Aspe. I am floored to say that this isn't some case of a singular talent having a band constructed around them. Hell no. Every musician on this album does their part to be an invaluable, nay crucial, part of the band's sound. That bass in the guitar tone matched with the mathy, cataclysmic nature of the riffs leaves devastation in its wake. There is so much groove, but one that is always equally matched in proportion with clever songwriting and able performances.
And speaking of the former, there are moments on 'Anke' that come completely out of left field in spectacular ways. Where else will you find an album as hard-hitting as this that takes a trip into Tryptikon territory on the whispy Sekhet Aaru? Or the Middle Eastern-sounding vocals and subsequent appearance of near-EDM on Nihil Sine Causa. The second half of the album feels markedly different from the first. The only other group of similar style that treads such diverse territories so adeptly is Dillinger Escape Plan. But I don't know...this could be a whole new level.
Season of Mist, once again you prove that you're interested in only the best and brightest when it comes to your choice of releases. But I can't give you the credit, because without interesting groups like ETHS, you could never exist. 'Ankaa' effectively fuses all of the best elements from alternative, electronic, metalcore, world, and djent all into one surprisingly cohesive package. What's more, it's a package that I want to keep coming back to over and over again. Stream the album via bandcamp as soon as humanly possible.