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Ethersens - Your Wandering Ghost CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

2.86 | 7 ratings

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4 stars Ethersens are a French metal band who have been around for over 10 years now, yet have only just released the second full-length title to their name. Your Wandering Ghost comes nearly six years after Ordinary Days, a debut record that played out a more prog-power style of progressive metal, containing comparisons to Fates Warning and the 'classic' prog metal bands, but it's clear from this sophomore that Ethersens have not spent the last six years idle, as Your Wandering Ghost is a vast improvement, containing eight songs of melodic and atmospheric progressive metal, with improved production, performances, and general songwriting ability, and is honestly one of the most impressive releases of straight progressive metal I've heard recently.

Sonically, Your Wandering Ghost is a progressive metal album at heart, but a lot of the material here isn't 'metal' in the true sense. The band spends far more time focusing the song structures and the moods on this record, and less on showy solos or messy time signature changes. A lot of this album is far closer to heavy progressive rock as opposed to progressive metal, with much of the album being in a softer and more atmospheric mood, with some electronics even sneaking in on "Same Goodbye". Anyone who knows me will know that this is pretty much the recipe of how to impress me in progressive music, but I will try to remove as much bias as possible to assess this record, and even then, this is still a solid album.

In regards to the direction of this album, the band claims that they tried to focus on emotion as the primary goal, and although I can't say this album had me in tears, there are certainly some very intense moments in the heavier sections, counterpointed by some melancholic and beautiful softer moments. Much of the intensity, in my ears, comes down to the combination of some very good tones on the kit, with an excellent and tight drum performance from Stephane Nestiri. For me, nothing gets my blood pumping more than a fantastic drum performance, and underneath some of the chilling and epic guitar parts, the drums here are undeniably one of the standout parts of this album. The tones are full and pumping, hard-hitting but not repetitive, and the patterns played are straight enough to convey the intense, pounding feeling in the heavier sections, but varied enough to appeal to those critically-minded listeners, who love a bit of left- field twists in the instrumentalists (the blast beats at the start of "Reflect" come to mind).

But aside from very few occasions, this record doesn't seem to throw too many turns at the listener, instrumentally. Most of the music fits into a specific groove and continues it, unlike much prog metal, which likes to change signature every two bars and confuse the hell out of everyone. I love the way the album puts its progressive side into structures and mood changes, in the way an Opeth album would. Ethersens run from intense and metal to atmospheric and beautiful so smoothly that everything feels natural in the transitions, and although this sort of structuring can get a bit tiring and repetitive (once again pointing at Opeth), none of the songs here run excessively long, and new melodies are introduced at good intervals to keep the music interesting.

The guitar work here is put far more on the back burner than with a lot of progressive metal, with the two guitarists focusing far more on riffs and chords than shreds and solos. My favourite part of the guitar work here is definitely the use of some mini-leads that come underneath the vocal- led parts, with the second guitarist playing the chords (often done using some Opethian slide- riffing), while the lead guitarist plays little licks that act as subtleties, in the same way as a band like Dead Letter Circus do.

There's not really much I can say negatively about Your Wandering Ghost, but I guess this really is just my kind of prog metal. After the first track, you really know what this album as a whole sounds like, with the exceptions of some brief moments of electronics or intense metal, and for those who like a bit of variation in their music, this may run a bit dry. My biggest problem (although it's a small one still) is that I'm honestly not feeling vocalist Laurent Mora for a good deal of this record. He's not bad, but the combination of his strong accent with his vocals occasionally slipping into 'tough-guy' hard rock-style semi-cleans mean that I'm not too keen on them on occasions, and even some of the vocal melodies are a bit meh, but this is really me nitpicking. Your Wandering Ghost is an excellent album for those who love melody and atmosphere in their progressive metal, and I'm sure a whole lot of progressive rock fans will find something to love here, since the metal doesn't really seem to be too in-your-face.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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