[21st January 2014]
01. Two For One Mind
02. Same Goodbye
03. This Where You And I Part Ways
04. Livin’ Memory
05. Mourning Light
07. Waking Disorder
08. To Live Is To Forget
I gotta hand it to the French; they have been turning out some really great bands/albums in recent memory – many of them surprises, as with EtHERSENS and their intriguing second album Your Wandering Ghost.
Comparisons from Italian label Scarlet Records for previous album Ordinary Days cited Opeth, Katatonia and Anathema as contemporaries. Names are often thrown around lightly, but the record’s hype sticker encouraged me to purchase it without having heard about either the band or album prior to the find – and what a pleasant surprise it was. It was also a pleasant surprise to find out they have just released a new record only last month.
Labelled as progressive metal, this isn’t your cliched Dream Theater-esque prog, but rather something more experimental, atmospheric, expansive and brooding; relying on the guitars and entire band for the atmosphere, rather than keyboards. Your Wandering Ghost has a very ambitious tone to it throughout, only mildly pretentious, with well-balanced doses of not only prog, but also post-metal and atmospheric styles that is certain to please adventurous listeners looking for something new or unique with a dark edge.
Musically and compositionally this is a bold album. Ever-changing moods are conveyed through fluid musicianship, flowing through its mountains and valleys of scenic sounds. The guitar work by Mickael Andre and Johan Bourrut is diverse, ranging from some textural approaches – “Same Goodbye” and “Mourning Light” are highlights – to punishing brutal riffs, like the one heard at the seven minute mark of “Two For One Mind” and throughout “Reflect” – which also has some surprising blast beats, rounding out EtHERSENS’ extreme use of dynamics. The drums (Stephane Nestiri) and bass (Remy Boyer) skillfully navigate through a myriad of feels and rhythms with some serious Tool-esque moments, often breaking down and building up to a percussive climax.
The only thing that could keep one from getting completely lost in “Your Wandering Ghost“‘s sonic scenery is the lead vocals by Laurent Mora, which although very expressive, are sung (clean but forceful at times) with a very heavy accent – oddly enough, not sounding like a typical French accent but more reminiscent of a heavier Aviv Geffen (Blackfield). The short spoken word segment of “This Is Where You And I Part Ways” adds a welcome dynamic to the mix, with obvious French accent this time.
Interestingly, there’s not too much repetition in EtHERSENS’ music, which is a bit of a double-edged sword; which makes it difficult to comprehend (and recall), but this makes it an interesting journey nonetheless – after all, this is prog metal.
Though Your Wandering Ghost has a lot of strong parts and fascinating ideas – like the piano outro of “Two For One Mind” and breakdown/build of “To Live Is To Forget” – it could use some stronger melodies and harmonies in the vocal department to make the songs more memorable overall. To equate this to Opeth is a bit of a far stretch but I’m sure fans of bands like Anathema, Katatonia, Porcupine Tree, Riverside and Karnivool will find something they enjoy in this thoughtful, emotive and moody approach to progressive metal.
The fact that EtHERSENS’ Facebook page has fewer than 400 “likes” at the time of this review is simply unjust, but I have a feeling that it’s only a matter of time before that number starts to multiply!