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Eths: Ankaa

Reconfigured French metallers blend delicacy and devastation

Whoever said that French is the language of love has clearly never had their ears assaulted by Eths vocalist Rachel Aspe, as she spews forth her venom in her mother tongue.

On her first album with the Marseille metallers, she shows off her truly impressive vocal range, from impossibly low guttural growls to a barely there, delicate whisper that allows her to create a beauty-and-the-beast dichotomy with only her voice. Though the album boasts a barrage of tight, chugging riffs from founding member Staif Bihl and an brutal backbeat courtesy of Soilwork’s Dirk Verbeuren, Ankaa is more than just one big sonic assault.

A dark ambience pervades the record, from the gently pulsing synths of Nihil Sine Causa to the foreboding piano of Seditio, and lending a horror movie atmosphere to the melodic Kumari Kandam, in which Rachel evokes Amesoeurs’ Audrey Sylvain.

And while there is the occasional reprieve from its brutality, as in the gorgeous verses of Vae Victis or the enchanting Middle Eastern melody of Sekhet Aaru, this is an album with a heart as black as coal.