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Archive for the ‘Death Metal’ Category

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There’s something inherently enjoyable about a band lovingly twisting old sounds into new shapes, which is precisely what Alabama’s Ectovoid does on its debut album Fractured in the Timeless Abyss. The album’s production and delivery is cut mostly from death metal’s rancid cloth, but there are frequent enough stylistic digressions – into melancholic tremolo, thin-drawn blasting, and so forth – to point also to a clear black metal heritage. In the interest of shorthand, let’s call it Autopsy and Incantation by way of Demoncy and Inquisition. But more importantly, let’s call it righteous metal and leave it at that.

Genre nitpicking and name-dropping aside, what sets Ectovoid apart as a serious proposition is the band’s twin focus on swirling, punchy riffs and an unbroken atmosphere of subterranean gloom. Michael Stewart’s guitar tone is thick and raw, occasionally pulling some Soulside Journey tricks to lead the whole band pulsing forward in a piledriving mass, which is precisely what is reminiscent of perennially underrated American black metal pioneers Demoncy. See the great album opener “Transcend into the Moonless Night” for a great example of this, as Stewart’s guitar twins with Chuck Bryant’s bass in a nimble pre-verse bridge before barreling forward as one; his twitchy soloing late in the song offers a brief glimpse of lightness, but it remains ephemeral. The earth swallows all its children.

Chuck Bryant’s vocals are typical but extremely impressive gut-scraping death growls, and his dank bass tone is fantastic, as is the way the instrument is used throughout the album. Bryant’s vocals are particularly notable because, given how well their tone fits in with the instrumental production, they easily blend into the background if one chooses to ignore them; however, it one chooses to focus on the vocals, the lyrics are extremely understandable, which is quite a feat for this sort of coarse delivery. Chris McDonald’s drumming manages to be surging and restrained, hungry yet understated. His cymbals gently crest the band’s wave, while the deep, loose toms sound the echoing depths.

Some of the album’s best moments occur when Bryant’s rumbling vocals are backed by a higher-pitched heaving (see “Chewing through the Membranes of Time and Space” and “Murmurs from Beyond”). Because the album’s atmosphere is so uniform, the extremely judicious use of this additional vocal style makes a huge impact the few sparse times it is employed. The midsection of “Chewing through the Membranes of Time and Space” points most clearly to the band’s black metal influence and the sickly doom that opens “Locked in Dismal Gaze” points most fervently to Autopsy, while “Splintered Phantasm” is one of the best examples of Ectovoid’s very attractive blending of black and death metal.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Ectovoid’s drummer Chris McDonald is a colleague of mine at MetalReview.com. That having been said, no amount of collegiality could’ve convinced me to not call Ectovoid dog balls if it was dog balls; Ectovoid is not dog balls. Ectovoid is a grimy, slithering thing, and with Fractured in the Timeless Abyss, the band has crafted a captivating set of songs that are sure to draw your soul to dwell with the wraiths in Christina Casperson’s tremendous artwork. To dwell with the doom that abides.

Overall rating: 80%.  Something something abyss Nietzsche.

Fractured in the Timeless Abyss is out now on Hellthrasher Productions.  Listen to it here.

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Sonne Adam, Transformation (2011)

A gorgeously dark vista

My review of the debut album from Israel’s Sonne Adam is up now at MetalReview.  Popular (underground) consensus seems to be with Necros Christos, but I’ll take Sonne Adam’s more compact and infinitely less dull take on the style any day.  Transformation is out now on Century Media Records.

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Rudra, Brahmavidya: Immortal I (2011)

Greenhenge?

My review of the latest album from Singaporean squad Rudra is up now at MetalReviewBrahmavidya: Immortal I is the concluding album in a trilogy, and while it buzzes along neatly enough, the band has truncated much of what made them so distinctive on previous albums.

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Panzerchrist, Regiment Ragnarok (2011)

Band name is a close second to Panzerbastard in the bad-ass stakes

My review of the latest album from long-running blasterrific Danish deathsters Panzerchrist is up now at MetalReviewRegiment Ragnarok is a crushing display of precise aggression, and is successful most of the time.  Check it out if life has seemed to move a bit too slowly for your taste of late.

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Coffins, Ancient Torture (Compilation) (2011)

Appropriately gruesome

My review of the quite excellent compilation of non-album goodies from Japan’s doom/death bruisers Coffins is up now at MetalReviewAncient Torture is out now on Deepsend Records.

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Morbid Angel, Illud Divinum Insanus (2011)

Inexplicable horrors lurk within, and not in a good way

Morbid Angel’s first album in eight years, and first with vocalist David Vincent in fifteen years, is bound to be the year’s most over-analyzed album.  Once all the dust has settled, I’m fairly confident the shitstorm over the atrociously-named Illud Divinum Insanus will eclipse even the furor over Liturgy’s Aesthetica.  I square off with my brother in metal Jim Brandon over at MetalReview to level a dual onslaught at this bafflingly bad album.  Even if you had written off Morbid Angel after Heretic, or if you left the fold following Vincent’s original departure after 1995’s Domination, there’s almost nothing to prepare you for this singularly misguided attempt at musical diversity.  Head on over to MetalReview to check it out, and please join in the shit-flinging.  Also, be sure to be on watch for the first inevitable, “Oh, man, this universally reviled album is actually totally fucking awesome” review.  Hard to say from whence it will come, but friends, trust me, it will come.  Just not from me.

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Septicflesh, The Great Mass (2011)

Gorgeous dark classicism

My review of the new album from Greek symphonic death metal sophisticates Septicflesh is up now over at MetalReview.  I have tried to justify my somewhat ambiguous critical stance toward the album with a whole lot of words.  Early responders to the review are having none of it, so check it out and make up your own damn mind.  The Great Mass is out now on Season Of Mist.

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