Album Reviews

Ethernity – Obscure Illusions

Ethernity is a Progressive Power Metal band from Belgium founded in 2000 by brothers Julien Spreutels (keyboards – Epysode) and Nicolas Spreutels (drums).

The band played as an instrumental band before recruiting Julie Colin (vocals) in 2005 and recorded their first demo All Over The Nations and a self-produced demo-album The Journey in 2006.
At that point, the band found its actual sound and played in the most renowned venues in Belgium, sharing the bill with acts like Tarja Turunen, Epica, Girlschool, Benedictum, Sons of Seasons, Tarot, Europe, HammerFall, Edguy, Gamma Ray, Rage, Vanden Plas, Evil Masquerade, Nightmare, Jorn, Rhapsody of Fire, Masterplan, Freak Kitchen, Symphony X, DGM, and Evergrey (but more on those last tow bands in a moment).
In 2013, Ethernity started to work on their debut album Obscure Illusions which was mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios) at Domination Studio (IT).
When I heard that the great Simone Mularoni was going to be involved I immediately took notice. Mularoni is associated with some of the finest recordings in the world of progressive metal so I knew that this was going to be a release of great quality. Being a huge fan of his work with Sam Arkan in Epysode, the fact that Julien Spreutels was the keyboardist of Ethernity confirmed that this was an album I had to hear.

False Lamentations starts things off fast and furious with an amazing display of Julien’s prowess behind the keys. Julien’s expertise behind the keyboards is on a level with players like Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater and Emanuele Casalie of DGM. Lead vocalist Julie Colin is the perfect blend of power, melody, passion, and agression. Her voice is the perfect compliment to the heavy riffs, powerful rhythm section, and blazing keyboard wizardry. If I were to compare Julie to one of her peers in the progressive metal community, I would say she is a cross between Ida Haukland of Triosphere and Maggy Luyten of Beyond the Bridge/Flaming Row. For those of you who are familiar with those two vocalists, you know that this is a compliment of the highest order! Driving the band forward is drummer Nicholas, whose precision drumming includes stop-on-a-dime progressive time changes and heavy hitting power metal styles mesh perfectly driving the song forward.
Entities starts with a melodic guitar riff courtesy of Gregory Discenza. Discenza is a real shredder with metal and neo-classical influences in his playing. Shadows on the Wall is an another aggressive powerful metal song with thrash metal influences intertwined with power metal and traditional metal to create another winning track.

A solitary piano starts off the melancholy Open Door. Colin’s voice shines with an emotive performance that reminds me of Dilenya Mar, former female vocalist for Germany’s Beyond the Bridge. Never Thought (You Would let Me Go) is another emotional song sung with passion and power by Julie Colin. The rhythm section of Nicholas and Francois Spreutels (bass) get the spotlight to show their formidable skills and provide the backbone of the songs progressive elements.
The metal gets turned up on the heavy chugging guitar rhythms of Rancor. The song starts and a mid-tempo and quickens the pace as the song goes on. Colin’s vocals carry the weight of the melody here with a memorable chorus.
One of my favorites on the album is Alone with ferocious riffs and soaring and strong vocal melodies. The chorus has an incredibly intense and emotional melody that rivals anything I’ve heard this year.
Julien’s keyboard melodies start off Broken Memories before Discenza’s stellar guitar playing charges in. The chorus features layered harmony vocals and a memorable refrain. Things slow down on After All Has Turned to Pain, a beautiful piano driven power ballad that features Julie Colin’s amazing vocal range and ability to convey the meaning behind the songs lyrics of love and loss.
The progressive metal onslaught continues on XIII, a song with huge symphonic bombast, rapid rife drumming, and galloping guitar rhythms, blazing solos, and sensational vocals, building in intensity until a final crescendo ending in a solitary piano melody.

Interlude is exactly what you would expect from the title, a short, spoken word vocal over a eerie symphonic arrangement. The voice asks the philosophical question about the paths we take in our lives right and wrong and what if we could do things over, making different choices, and not always the “right” choice. This leads into the last song, the 14-minute epic title track. The title track features three special guests singers: Tom E. Englund (Evergrey), Kelly Sundown Carpenter (Firewind, Outworld, Beyond Twilight) and Mark Basile (DGM) joining Colin to create the albums jaw-dropping finale. The vocal styles of all four world-class singers blend together flawlessly. The song is dark, beautiful, and majestic with gorgeous symphonic arrangements, chugging guitar rhythms, and power drumming. The chorus shines when all four vocalists merge as one creating soaring four-part harmonies. The breakdown mid-song has an Evergrey-esque feel, but that is probably because Tom Englund gets the chance to display his distinct emotive voice over a beautiful piano backdrop.

On first listen I was awestruck at the sheer power of the music. The fact that this album is an independent release makes it all the more impressive. Obscure Illusions is an incredible achievement from the songwriting, to the individual performances, to the album artwork. Everything about this album screams brilliance. Due to its underground nature, the prog/power metal genre will most likely never produce another Dream Theater but as long as bands like Ethernity continue to churn out high quality music like this, the genre is safe from becoming stagnant. It’s amazing that one of the many well known metal record labels haven’t jumped at the opportunity to release this album (I’m looking at you AFM, Nightmare, and Napalm Records!).
For fans of the darker side of progressive metal such as Epysode, Evergrey, and Triosphere, this is the perfect band for you. I am expecting big things from here to Ethernity.

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