Eths – Ankaa (Season of Mist)

Wednesday, 8th June 2016
Rating: 6/10

France’s Eths may not have nearly the profile if they had a dude out front. That’s just how it works. They’re proof that you can take several unlikable metal subsets (i.e. nu metal, modern metal, and deathcore), smash them together, use a female vocalist, and still make headway. It’s somewhat disconcerting on this end, perhaps not as much for Season of Mist, whose diverse roster profile can only benefit from such a decidedly un-melodic and uninviting outfit as Eths. And even with a singer switch (Rachel Aspe replaces longtime throat Candice Clot), the results on the band’s fourth foray, Ankaa, are mixed.

If we’re looking for an easy selling point to Ankaa, it’s the fact Soilwork and now current Megadeth touring drummer Dirk Verbeuren is manning the skins. Verbeuren, as it’s known, got his start in a similar French outfit, Scarve, who were never quite able to get out of mid-level status during their short career. Never the matter, for it’s Verbeuren’s detailed and busy playing that keeps a few of these songs afloat. “Nihil Sine Causa” would be one of them (it also includes a guest vocal spot from Threat Signal’s Jon Howard), a toppling, otherwise driving number with dissonant riffing. “HAR1” is the other, mainly because, again, it has another guest spot, this time from Soilwork’s Bjorn “Speed” Strid. (Strid may hold the record for most guest vocal appearances in metal history when it’s all said and done.)

But guest appearances and session work do not a good album make. Ankaa is a messy, unfocused platter with mounds of unrecognizable riffing, often played under the cover of deathcore’s nasty facade. Aspe does her part by remaining the howling she-devil, but she’s a minor novelty in a band that probably receives more attention than it should.

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