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Album Review: TBA

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Album Review: Ektomorf - Redemption

For a band that will soon be celebrating two decades together, you’d think that Ektomorf would have generated more of an impact than constant referrals to them aping the Brazilian groove metal bands you’d naturally associate with the Cavalera brothers. In recent years, they have combined with Tue Madsen, who always brings an extra level of polish to the party and, with his help, they appear to have been making potted attempts to move away from these tired comparisons by focussing on their hardcore side. However, no matter where you look for inspiration on the band, the names Sepultura and Soulfly still keep hoving into view. Unfortunately, Redemption isn’t going to offer what it says on the tin or, similarly, change many folks’ opinions, but it does indeed offer a little more in the way of variety.

Delving straight in, the band resort to type echoing Soulfly’s more recent output with vocalist Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas spitting swathes of machismo that, incredibly, peak with the same imploding vocal effect so readily used by Max Cavalera himself – have this band no shame? The swirling crush of crust-steeped driven metal has the same bloodthirsty, balls-out feel about it that Omen engendered, whilst the ‘call-to-arms’ lyrical content easily matches that which so dominated Conquer – “Last Fight” being every bit the equal of “Blood Fire War Hate”.

The BPMs soon drop for “I’m In Hate” and a chilling, blackened, acerbic edge creeps in, whilst “God Will Cut You Down” piles on the vicious hardcore to spawn a disappointingly weak, one-dimensional Hatebreed-style bruiser. Surprisingly for a producer as well-respected as Madsen, the snare drum all too often sounds remarkably like someone hitting a bin lid, but this fact pales into insignificance when, out of the blue, we’re matching it up to Nirvana licks. Yep, the four-chords that run through “Never Should” are disturbingly close to those of “In Bloom”; Zoli’s vocal predictably cracking into a roar as the band power into each chorus. To ram the point home, “Sea Of My Misery” strums out a spot of contrastingly clean acoustic guitar and crisp, downcast vocal clearly inspired by those same features that mark out “Polly”. All this implies that the band are happy to diversify but simply seem unable of writing anything truly original.

Danko Jones makes a brief, uninspiring appearance to lash out a spot of punk n’ roll for “The One”, before Ektomorf bring it home with the funked-up hook and rumbling bass whump of “Revolution” (bringing early-Skindred to mind), a series of irksome softly-spoken verses that haunt “Stigmatized”, and the fiendishly explosive Machine Head-esque groove that rolls around ‘Anger’.

As songwriter, and last remaining founder, Zoli has to take the majority of the blame for the band’s continued mash of uninspired mediocrity (dropping the F-bomb and repeating the track-title ad infinitum doesn’t make a song instantly great), but this was never going to be about Ektomorf trampling on everything that has made them such a well-received live band. As a standalone album, it’s an absolute dog – scarily cantankerous, loveably daft and full of barking-mad anthems; an album that simply sits up and begs to be taken out for a walk.

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