|20 Jun 2017||CD|
Shade & Soil by Tennessee (USA) band Ethos was a very nice surprise for me. The album starts with a short piano led track, with moving ghostly vocals, that would not be out of place on a Steven Wilson album. Very moving, but this mood does not last since the music quickly moves to Prog Metal.
Actually one cannot pigeonhole Ethos into one category. Even though a good part of the music is on the heavy side of the spectrum, Shade & Soil also offers some melodic songs and on many tracks, there are some Pop Rock flavours that always keeps them accessible, even though the energy level is often high. I've enjoyed this album from beginning to end, but highlights for me were the two very moving shorter pieces ''Shade & Soil'' and ''Tragedy'', the Epic lenght ''The Archetype Suite'' and the closer ''Blinded''. The musicians' performances are just great. I really got into Tribb Robinson's drumming, that is never flashy (i.e. not like Mike Portnoy for example) but always busy and creative. Lead singer Austen Earp (he also plays keyboards and guitar) has a nice voice (kinda like John Wesley with a hint of Nick Barrett). I must admit to liking him more in a relaxed or controled style of singing. On occasion he really dishes it out, and even though he easily reaches the higher notes with a lot of intensity, I can't say I enjoy these parts to the fullest. But hey, I never really liked Geddy Lee when he hit the high notes, and most Rush fans would strongly disagree with me.
In conclusion Shade & Soil by Ethos is a Prog (mostly Metal) album that should really be to the liking of many fans out there. Those that enjoy the heavier songs by Porcupine Tree should certainly check this band out. Shade & Soil by Ethos is clearly a strong contender for best new Prog album of 2017.