Metal Chick of the Month – Rachel Aspe

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La femme Nikita? Non, la femme Rachel.

Bonjour! Comment allez-vous? These initial French words have a good reason to be here: la belle femme Rachel Aspe, vocalist of the Heavy Metal/Hardcore band Eths from Marseille, France,  is our metal babe this month. This beautiful girl was born on June 24, 1988, in the city of Grasse, France, about 1,000km from Paris, but she conquered the world after singing Swiss Industrial/Groove Metal band Sybreed‘s Emma-0 on the French TV show “Incroyable Talent” in November 2012, when the video of her performance went viral.

This is the audio she sent to the TV show before being selected to sing it live on TV, and as you will be able to notice her performance was more than just awesome: her guttural vocals are as potent as the world-renowned frontwomen Angela Gossow (ex-Arch Enemy) and Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist, Arch Enemy), even never taking any lessons on how to do guttural singing. By the way, it always amazes me how ignorant and stupid those so-called “music experts” that judge the participants at any TV show like “American Idol” are: why do they make those faces of disbelief or looks of disapproval when they see a girl singing like Rachel Aspe? Honestly, I cannot believe that they don’t really know at least who Angela Gossow is, or that they don’t know how important, powerful and admired the female guttural in the world of heavy music is. That’s simply ridiculous.

Getting back to Rachel, she has mentioned in several interviews that it had always been her goal to be part of a band, and that this was one of the main reasons she went to that TV show. She had a job at a day nursery at that time and it was hard to find some proper time to work on her vocals, but she managed to do it really quickly in order to have the best possible performance on the show, which was broadcasted just a little time after Candice Clot left Eths. And guess what? Rachel was recruited by the other members of Eths to replace Candice, and then she could finally fulfill her dream. If this is not the perfect mix of hard work, some good luck and being embraced by the wings of destiny, I really don’t know what is.

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Rachel mentioned in one of her interviews that she discovered guttural vocals when she was a teenager, when she used to listen to punk rock and later to more brutal bands. She said that screaming was like a way to escape from her personal problems and it quickly became a “drug” for her. Regarding her music influences, the first singers she listened to were Max Cavalera (Soulfly, ex-Sepultura) and Corey Talor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), who helped her choose guttural as her type of singing, and although she’s a huge fan of Angela Gossow and loves her voice, she said the former frontwoman of Arch Enemy did not influence her way of singing.

As previously mentioned, she never took lessons and searched alone how to do guttural singing, but as with Eths she has to sing clean vocal parts too, she has been receiving lessons from professor Pierre Rodriguez. Another interesting fact about Rachel is the fact that she never thought about singing in French in a band (her vocal covers were almost always in English), but she really appreciates singing in her mother tongue with Eths now.

Rachel’s first studio work with Eths was the excellent EP Ex Umbra In Solem, launched in March this year. The EP contains a brand new song (the title-track Ex Umbra In Solem), three classic tracks of the band recorded live in October 2013 in Paris (Samantha, Bulimiarexia and Crucifère), and three songs from their album III re-recorded with Rachel on vocals (Voragine, Harmaguedon and Proserpina). Prior to joining Eths, Rachel was a member of French Melodic Death Metal band Dividead for a short period of time in 2012, and recorded the vocals for the song Fireblast by French Symphonic Power Metal band Kerion also in 2012.

With respect to her taste for music, mademoiselle Rachel proves us all she’s a true metalhead: her favorite artists include Heavy Metal icons such as Eths, Nightwish, Asking Alexandria and Deftones, and lesser-known but heavy as hell bands like Sybreed, Shai Hulud, Filter, Butterfly Explosion and Obscura. And last but not least, she also said she’s crazy about children and about her leopard geckos. Well, I would love to see her singing a “lullaby” to some kids, and I wasn’t expecting her to have any “cute” pets at all based on her singing style. Let those generic animals to the tedious participants from those annoying TV singing contests, while the wild Rachel and her fun lizards keep on rockin’ our world.

Rachel Aspe’s Official Facebook page
Rachel Aspe’s Official Twitter
Rachel Aspe’s Official YouTube channel

“I’m really proud to be a part of Eths. I’ve been a fan of the band for many years, and it’s a great honor for me to sing songs I have been listening to for such a long time.” – Rachel Aspe

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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?

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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