Released: 2013, Santo Grial (Holy Grail)
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Fans of old school thrash - y'know, the double-denim-and-patches kinda stuff - should point their eyes in this direction for a bit, because the subject of today's review is Spanish thrash metallers Ethos (Spanish thrash: Spash? Sprash? Ahem. Anyway...)
The band formed way back in 1995 in Logrono, Spain. Vocalist Rodrigo Sevillano, driven by his love of W.A.S.P, Metallica and other Eighties thrashers, pieced together a group of fellow enthusiasts. A demo was released in 2000 ('Tiempos Difficiles', translation 'Hard Times'), followed by a self-titled album in 2004. After a rather long gap, the band finally released their follow-up album 'Desnudando la Realidad' ('Stripping Reality') in 2013.
Opening track 'Mas Alla de la Razon' ('Beyond All Reason') kicks off proceedings in a suitably thrashy fashion. With shades of old school Metallica, it's a surprisingly heavy number with some impressive Eighties style riffs. Frontman Sevillano also has a rather impressive voice, very much in the style of his hero Blackie Lawless (although admittedly minus Lawless' rather bonkers badassness). As befits the thrash genre, the song is quite long (almost all of the album's tracks are around five or six minutes in length), with protracted instrumental breaks and a rather earnest vocal style.
The band's clear influences read like a roll call of Eighties metal. Thus there are shades of Megadeth on 'Victima Social' ('Social Victim'), W.A.S.P on 'Las Dos Caras de la Necedad' ('The Two Faces of Folly'), and Judas Priest on album closer 'Renacer' ('Reborn'). There's also a hint of Maiden ('El Nombre Del Poder' - 'In the Name of Power'), Whitesnake ('Fiel Hasta Del Muerte' - 'Faithful Unto Death') and even Eighties pop rock a la Pat Benetar in 'Sombra Del Ayer' ('Shadow of Yesterday'). Thrash remains the overriding sound, but with traces of power and speed metal which prevents the album from becoming too generic and 'copycat'.
There are a few niggles: Sevillano's vocals are definitely weaker at the lower end of his range; the piano-led intro 'Se Acabo' ('It's Over') is a touch maudlin, and again the vocals don't suit the music. Some of the instrumental breaks, whilst musically excellent, are a bit too 'kitchen sink' and self indulgent, which runs the risk of boring the listener. This is most noticeable with the inclusion of a longer version of first single 'Cuestion de Fe' ('Question of Faith'): two extra minutes of instrumental is at best unnecessary. The other issue is the all-Spanish lyrics: it would be interesting to know what the man is singing about! Having said that, not only is it fairly obvious from the rather negative and cynical song titles that this is no 'hearts and flowers' album (ha!), but who are we as English speakers to tell people to sing only in English? (Thus ends the anti-colonialism lecture for the day...)
Having said all of that, this is a fantastic album if you love old shcool thrash. It is packed full of racing, thunderous riffs aplenty, catchy choruses, some truly epic, soaring guitar solos and instrumental breaks, and an all-pervading sense of honouring the thrash metal greats. Special mention must go to 'Sombra del Ayer', which is a blasting beast of a song, and album closer 'Renacer', the most modern-sounding song on the album but still drenched in a glorious Priest-esque flavour throughout. It's a wonderful way to wrap up the album.
It may have been a long time coming, but 'Spashers' (sorry) Ethos have released a great album for fans of thrash metal. They certainly tick all of the genre's boxes, and this album will undoubtedly delight their old fans and garner them new ones. Viva la thrash musica!
Review by Melanie Brehaut