Formed in 2000, Belgian Progressive Metal five piece Ethernity were up until recently a Six- piece. Due to vocalist Julie Colin leaving the band (due to Personal Reasons), the band are now seemingly on the hunt for a new vocalist and releasing Julie’s swansong: concept album and the band’s 3rd full-length release “The Human Race Extinction”. Detailing the much loved and often hypothesized decimation of humans via AI and other robotic/technological aggressors, this is an ambitious 14 track release which would have had the potential to raise the profile of the band outside of the symphonic-progressive European based metal bands.

Now? Well is this either a job advert for vocalist/band, or a farewell release.

Given the concept and style of the album, it isn’t that surprising to find a cinematic quality to the delivery and feel of the album. The keyboard/synth/sample elements feature heavily and act in both a directing role from the back and as a major melodic voice on the release. Whether this is similar to the situation with Nightwish (founding member and prominent songwriter plays this instrument) or it is just how the release ended up is a discussion for another time, but the contribution these parts make in combination with the guitars/bass/drums does make for a very dynamic and well composed record. In this regard, it comes across with a similar sound/feel to Ayreon and Anthropia, both of whom are known for concept releases which have a meticulously composed and arranged take to song writing. Adding the expressive vocals to the mix with some Euro-Power Metal friendly riffs and lead guitar theatrics, the picture becomes more defined: a hook-laden, melodic and engaging record with a lot to deliver.

And it does deliver… provided this is your ‘type’ of music.

The whole album flows well. Where present, filler/transition tracks link songs together with adequate fading in/out or continuation of musical progression, giving the album’s music a narrative feel which matches that of the vocal narrative. A good example of this is ‘Mechanical Life’ which is a groove orientated, melodic natured track which shifts unto the more prog metal feel and highly expressive ‘Grey Skies’ where the switchover is the gradual wind down of a melodic lead sequence to a piano/dist. Guitar sequence. Speaking of ‘Grey Skies’, the overall delivery of the track is solid. The vocals are strong, packed with emotion and carry the story well in tandem with the musical arrangement backing them; both reflect each other well and augment each other’s impact. “Beyond Dread” is another great track where the musical side of the song is spot on, symphonic choruses, solid rhythm work and virtuoso leads all stand out. “Redefined” however is the highlight of the album with its stunning vocal delivery, fantastic synth and guitar melodic work and tightly controlled, dynamic rhythm section.

Other than what was mentioned above, this release is your typical prog metal album. The length may deter some and in places, the compositional structuring is predictable, but the variety on offer in terms of pace and delivery does offset some of these nagging issues. It’s worth a shot, just don’t expect this musical vision of a doomsday scenario to be as dark or nihilistic as others out there.

(8/10 Fraggle)