When selecting this album to review I had no idea what to expect and to be honest I’m still not sure how to best describe this. I’ll give it a serious try though. Ethmebb apparently was founded as Ethmeb, a grindcore band from Tournan-en-Brie, Île-de-France, Paris back in 2006. Its members are Rémi Molette, vocals, guitar and samples, Victor Tunidjah, guitars and choirs, François Santenoff, bass and choirs and Damien Baissile on drums. In 2012, for reasons unknown, Ethmeb was renamed Ethmebb and their musical focus shifted from grindcore to epic death-power-progressive metal. Moreover they prefer the term ‘Epileptic Power Death Progressive Black Doom for children’ themselves, which does not really makes things any clearer.
Anyway, this resulted in the release of an EP called ‘Lost My Grind’ back in 2013 on which Ethmebb’s intentions become clear. Four years later they release their full-length called ‘La Quête Du Saint Grind’, which is supposed to mean something along the lines of ‘The Quest For The Holy Grind’. Judging by the title it’s a concept album, with a somewhat confusing and very much peculiar story brought to us by a bard called Bard the Bard. It’s about a warrior called Tathor who, with the aid of his emerald sword and the power of the dragon flame, tries to maintain the peace in Enchanted Land, which is threatened to be disturbed by a dark shadow from the dark tower of the abyss. Talking about a cheesy story line... However, Tathor doesn’t give a shit about that, all he cares for is finding his grind back that has been stolen from him. He needs his grind back to get laid again (yes, really…), so finding it back becomes his only priority. This marks the start of the quest for the holy Grind as well as the start of the eponymous album. Of course our hero will meet a host of weird characters, so buckle up and prepare, you have been warned.
As unlikely as their personal description of their musical style sounds, it is spot on nevertheless, save the ‘for children’, which I still haven’t quite figured out yet. Each of the aforementioned genres is represented at a given point, be it sometimes only seconds at a time. Even though they initially seem to be used at random, upon closer listening you’ll find that that is definitely not true. This abundant use of many short intervals of various types of music inevitably makes the structure of the songs incredibly complex, which in turn poses the risk of losing yourself in total chaos within them, especially when you add so many different samples as Ethmebb does. The fact that this is not the case on ‘La Quête…’ leads me to believe that a lot of thought has been put into the structure of the songs.. Overall it all sounds remarkably coherent although things go a bit overboard at times causing a bit of restlessness in the sound.
The album starts rather peaceful, with the initially soothing but later more bombastic ‘Tathor, l’Echalote de ses Morts’, a more or less typical power metal intro anthem complete with choirs. This depicts the initial peace Enchanted Land enjoys, which is soon to be disturbed when the grind gets lost, effectively caught in music in ‘Lost My Grind’. A catchy, decent power metal song in itself, but decent is not what Ethmebb pursues, so you’ll encounter a few surprises here, although they are relatively few and far between… for now. The first and most influential being the vocals which, very much unlike power metal, are grinds with at times an insane sounding black metal edge. More weird are the braying donkey and a dance sample that appears to have been borrowed from Dutch dance outfit 2Unlimited.
From there on, by lack of a better description, things get increasingly different. The in the power metal genre characteristic speed and bombastic sound form the base of every song, but the addition of a torrent of soundscapes, breaks, loops, twists and turns fills every song with surprises and gives every song an identity of its own. Every time you think you might get a grasp on Ethmebb’s music there’s a new surprise around the corner which throws you off track again. There is no doubt Ethmebb’s members are excellent musicians, being able to execute this kind of music the way they present us on ‘La Quête …’ is no small feat. I’m assuming here, but I strongly get the impression that fun is what comes first for these guys, which helps in creating their peculiar type of music. They don’t care about genre or unwritten laws about what to play within them, they simply play what they like or whatever comes to mind at any given moment and whenever they see fit. That does not mean their music is slapped together using a multitude of randomly played samples, riffs and vocal lines. I’m truly convinced every single detail has deliberately added in that particular part of the track because of the fact nothing sounds out of place.
If you’re in for a truckload of surprises within the music, this one is for you. There’s so many to be discovered in every single song it’s impracticable to describe it all, let alone fathom it. The only way to find out whatever surprises are lurking in the shadows of the complex compositions is to give the album a couple of spins yourself. There really is no other option in my opinion and to be honest, it’s not exactly a punishment to do so. The only minor point of criticism, as I mentioned before, is that the samples, twists and turns might or maybe should be cut back a little bit to avoid chaos. This however, does not influence the fun and joy of experiencing this all that much.
Written by Henric van Essen