Album Review – Eths / Ex Umbra In Solem EP (2014)

Rachel Aspe is definitely here to stay. Or should I say she’s here to scream?

Rating4

CoverAfter the departure of singer Candice Clot from French Heavy Metal/Hardcore band Eths, no one knew exactly what was going to happen with the band, as she was considered an essential part of its musicality. However, the other band members didn’t waste any time, immediately replacing her with the gorgeous and talented Rachel Aspe (who will pretty soon be our “Metal Chick of the Month”), and now releasing a new EP called Ex Umbra In Solem.

Although the music from this Marseille-based band is entirely in French, “le langage de l’amour”, they’ve chosen Latin instead to name the EP, which in English means something like “From Shadow to the Sun”, maybe as a representation of the moment the band has been through in the past few months before finding Rachel. Anyway, Ex Umbra In Solem is a special digipak limited and numbered 1 to 1,000 (available exclusively at the Season Of Mist’s official e-shop and other French stores), containing a brand new song, three classic tracks recorded live on October 24, 2013 at the Divan du Monde in Paris, France, mixed by Nikhertz at Studio Phantom, and three songs from the III album, re-recorded with Rachel on vocals.

So let’s get down to business with the title-track, Ex Umbra In Solem, the only original song of the EP, with its slow, obscure and delicate intro that suddenly turns into pure violence with great riffs, all fostered by a really nice chorus (“Et je mâche, au plus profond je nage / J’abandonne lentement / Vide, elle flotte à déraison / Isolée, je tombe (in solem)”). Rachel’s voice is really powerful when guttural and smooth when clean, sounding like some of The Agonist songs, and I really wish there were more original tracks here. Well, we’ll have to wait for their next full-length album for that.

Then come the three live tracks recorded last year in Paris, with all instruments cleanly captured for our delight: Samantha might be a very short song, but its live recording sounded amazing, explaining why it was included in the EP. Moreover, Rachel is pretty good live, which is when it really matters, and it’s interesting how she can quickly change her voice in a very consistent way without any sudden breaks. Bulimiarexia shows that, in my humble opinion, although Rachel clean vocals live are not bad at all, she just needs to adjust them a little. And kudos to drummer Guillaume “Yom” Dupré in this track, he sounds amazing. The last live track is the classic Crucifère, and as you can see in the official video below, Rachel’s onstage performance is another reason why she was the chosen one.

In regards to the re-recorded songs from III with Rachel on vocals, they all sound very professional and as heavy as they should be: I have the III album and after listening to both old and new versions of Voragine I’m pretty sure even diehard fans will love Rachel as much as they loved Candice; Harmaguedon is my favorite of the re-recorded versions and will probably be Rachel’s “secret weapon” to win the hearts of the “unfaithful”; and finally Proserpina closes the EP in a very good way, following the high quality of the recording of all songs.

EthsLast but not least, the album art was once again created by photographer and designer Nicolas Sénégas, who already worked on the art of III, and it is a very good graphic translation of the dark, gothic and heavy music generated by Eths.

So after all those good things I’ve said about Ex Umbra In Solem, you might be asking why only a 3.5, right? In fact, it was supposed to be only a 3.0 for having just one brand new song, as there’s a lack of originality and creativity in the whole EP, but at the same time Rachel’s performance is so electrifying in all tracks that it deserved a 4.0, which leads to an average of 3.5: simple math to represent how awesome this new singer will be for the future of the band.

Best moments of the album: Ex Umbra In Solem, Crucifère and Harmaguedon.

Worst moments of the album: The fact that the EP has only one brand new song.

Released in 2014 Season Of Mist

Track listing
1. Ex Umbra In Solem 4:06
2. Samantha (live) 2:38
3. Bulimiarexia (live) 4:22
4. Crucifère (live) 4:33
5. Voragine (Rachel on vocals) 3:49
6. Harmaguedon (Rachel on vocals) 4:45
7. Proserpina (Rachel on vocals) 5:48

Band members
Rachel Aspe — lead vocals
Stéphane “Staif” Bihl — guitar, samples
Damien Rivoal — bass
Guillaume “Yom” Dupré — drums