French metal is coming into its own. Marseilles dark tech-metal crew Eths have been playing their guts out in mainland Europe since 1996; now the rest of the world is coming round to their way of thinking. Of their original lineup, only guitarist/songwriter Staif Bihl remains to tell the tale of a band that’s taken risks in their stride.
“Eths was our high school project,” he tells us. “We were friends doing covers of Metallica and Sepultura. We struggled to find a screamer, but our original singer Candice Clot was my ex-girlfriend’s best friend. These days, I’m the only survivor!”
The band’s fourth album, Ankaa (Arabic for “the phoenix”), chronicles Eths’ latest step into the unknown by introducing new frontlady Rachel Aspe on record. Written and produced solely by Staif over two challenging years, 2016 is their crunch time.
“We could’ve given up when Candice left in 2012, but it was too early to stop – I had to say everything I wanted to say. With this new album, I’m finally at peace with everything. For too long, the band was the only thing I’d done with my life, but now if I had to stop tomorrow, I’d accept it because I’ve done everything I wanted to do.” Rachel stepped into the limelight with a screaming TV audition on France’s Got Talent, having discovered her vocal range while growling along to Slipknot and Walls Of Jericho in her teens. Luckily, Rachel was already a fan of Eths’ previous work, and now she’s a sprightly, vibrant addition whose chops soon settled any fears for their future.
“Without Rachel, we couldn’t have made this record,” Staif concludes. “We’ve had messages from hardcore fans that doubted us at first but stuck by us and weren’t disappointed. This album is so important for us because it could be our last. The fans could trash it and Eths could die.”
For Staif, Eths has been his lifeforce and a vehicle for his developing music tastes. With each album presenting their versatility and breaking down a few barriers along the way – there’s no telling what they’ll do next.
“We could release an electronic album for the fun of it, just to see the metalheads all wondering what the hell we’re doing! I never tell myself that we have to sound like one thing or another,” he states. “I just take my guitar and piano and give it my best shot.“
ANKAA IS OUT NOW VIA SEASON OF MIST