Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ethersens-Your Wandering Ghost

Scarlet Records

Ethersens, whose base of operations is Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées (France), were recommended to me by Eryn Non Dae's guitarist/backing vocalist Franck Quintin. Featuring Eryn Non Dae's Mickaël André (playing guitar here instead of bass as he does in Eryn None Dae), who first laid the groundwork for what would become Ethersens back in 2002 along with fellow guitarist/long-time friend Johan Bourrut, and with the eight-track, concept-album "Your Wandering Ghost" serving as the group's sophomore release, the band's purported sound was appealing to me from the word go! "Think about Katatonia, Alice In Chains, Opeth or Pain Of Salvation" shared Franck Quintin and, while there are definitely a few other elements to this French five-pieces sound then just those few above mentioned acts, he's fairly spot on! While the band itself lists the likes of Porcupine Tree, Karnivool, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains I'd suggest tossing in some of the dark metal appeal of a band like Tool (which, admittedly, has more to do with the group's newest lead vocalist then anything else) and maybe even a little bit of Neurosis when you're talking about the current musical direction of this band. But, other then those two suggestions, Franck is right as that's kind of what you're in for when you experience a band like Ethersens. And yes, "Your Wandering Ghost", is one of those releases where it's not so much a case where you simply sit back and listen to the recording. Instead you need to devote time alone so that you can fully tune yourself  into what Ethersens is all about. As the songs unfold you'll find that you're being hit by so much at once, what with sweeping prog. rock movements giving way to aggressive, post-grunge riffs (Mickaël André and Johan Bourrut are a lethal duo in that regard!), so "Your Wandering Ghost" requires devotion and, yes, maybe even repeated listens, in order to fully embrace everything that this record has to offer! And make no mistake about it, "Your Wandering Ghost" has plenty to offer when it comes to delivering intense and interesting music to the listener! Whether you're a fan of progressive metal, dark metal or alternative metal there's just so much to appreciate when it comes to "Your Wandering Ghost". It's true that at times the album can be abrasive and dark, which I find all the more appealing personally, but there are also moments of absolute clarity. The way in which this French act can transform what would otherwise be pressing, near-doom like material, into deeper, dream-like waves of sound cannot be left hidden from the masses. This is music that may appear heavy and oppressive, but it manages to transcend such boundaries and, as such, deserves a wider audience. Perhapes with time that will happen. It's pretty clear that this French outfit plans to be in the game for a long time to come. You can hear as much given the obvious thought process that went into this concept album. Granted, they've already been in the game for awhile now when you step back and look at the bigger picture. With other bands like Eryn Non Dae, Zubrowska, Talian, Disphoria and Eradykate taking time away from this project (in years past) it's not hard to see why Ethersens are just now getting around to releasing this, their sophomore output. And yet knowing that this is a side-project of sorts kind of makes it all the more impressive (from the view-point of how exceptional a release like this one is in it's construction and execution) when you think about it. With their first record, 2008's "Ordinary Days" (also on Scarlet Records), receiving high praise (among other things it was voted "Album Of The Month" by Rock Hard Italy) it's true that the band had a lot to live-up to when it came to this release. Especially with a new vocalist and a new bassist in tow. Sure, Ethersens also released a two-track digital demo ("Same Goodbye") in 2012, but this is it output-wise. And we all known that a band's second full-length album is often viewed as the make it or break point. Vocals are now handled by the more-then-capable Laurent Mora (ex-Agrion Splendens) and, as hinted at in the Tool reference bit above, his addition allows a band like this the ability to deliver dark material that can be on one hand frightening and yet also alluring! Laurent Mora, whose voice does bring to mind Maynard James Keenan at times (although there is also a haunting vibe to his voice that also seems to channel the spirit of the late great Layne Staley!), replaces Stephan "Steph" (who incidentally sang lead vocals on "Ordinary Days") with bassist Remy Boyer being the other new player added to this highly-talented lot. Longtime drummer Stéphane Nestiri (Talian, ex-Eradykate) rounds things out in Ethersens and in regards to "Your Wandering Ghost", which I'm now listening to for the third time in less then two days(!), fans should have no worries of the dreaded sophomore-slump! While it's true that Ethersens, who recorded this concept album with Julien Soula at Antistatic Studios, might be a hard act to describe on paper (seeing as they layer their music with all these different elements and what not) they are still one act that I'm happy to have been connected with. Just like Mickaël André's other outfit Eryn Non Dae they offer up thought-provoking, complex, layered music that is built out of a collective desire to play heavy metal that actual challenges the listener to become involved with what he or she is hearing. To that end I found this eight-track release rather refreshing and I most certainly recommend it!

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