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ETHS - "Ex Umbra In Solem" (CD/EP)

ETHS - "Ex Umbra In Solem" CD/EP cover image

"Ex Umbra In Solem" track listing:

1. Ex Umbra In Solem
2. Samantha (live)
3. Bulimiarexia (live)
4. Crucifère (live)
5. Voragine (Rachel on vocals)
6. Harmaguedon (Rachel on vocals)
7. Proserpina (Rachel on vocals)

Reviewed by on May 1, 2014

"The sudden departure later that year of vocalist Candice may not be on the same level as Angela Gossow leaving Arch Enemy, but for Eths fans it felt a little like that."

After a surprise breakout in 2012 with a Season of Mist record deal and an influx of international press, things were looking up for Eths as the stellar “III” album exploded across the metal scene. The sudden departure later that year of vocalist Candice may not be on the same level as Angela Gossow leaving Arch Enemy, but for Eths fans it felt a little like that. Happening just as the band was gaining traction, the future of Eths looked bleak, but fear not Eths maniacs – because now the French group has recruited new front woman Rachel Aspe (you DO remember the viral video of her performing death growls on a French talent show to shocked judges, don't you?).

“Ex Umbra In Solem,” the first official release since the vocalist dust up, is an in-between palette cleanser meant to get fans on board with the new vocalist before a proper full-length of original tracks sees the light of day. The opening title track is a new, original composition, and it shows a lot of promise, with a strong vibe of what made “III” such a stellar release but still going in an updated direction.

Besides the new song, the EP features three live tracks (although the sound quality on these is pretty close to studio and there aren't screaming fans covering anything up), and three re-recordings of previous tracks with the new vocalist. This eclectic mix offers a chance to both get acquainted with the new direction while still assuring previous listeners that the old material isn't going away. The re-recorded tracks aren't too far off from the originals, just with a bit of a Rachel twist added. The band is still death metal – of a more modern variety – with a hodgepodge of other sounds mixed in, from hardcore to groove.

Rachel's vocals on the live tracks are noticeably different from the studio offerings, ending up much more deep and guttural – like phlegmy old school death metal guttural – and it's frankly kind of shocking when you see the vessel they are coming out of. Despite her range and the extreme level she can hit, I have to admit I still like the old vocalist better and miss the previous sound. Rachel's cleans are great, but the growls from Candice seemed to fit the music better. If you never heard the previous vocalist it may not be an issue, but long term fans will have to get used to this new fit, and only time will tell how Rachel settles into the role on future full-lengths.

Highs: A good mix of old, new, and updated to get fans used to the new vocalist.

Lows: After several listens I still miss the old vocalist and feel she fit the music better.

Bottom line: This taste of things to come is promising, but fans of the old vocalist will have to get used to new front woman Rachel Aspe's presence.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)