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Prolia is a drug used to treat osteoporosis. It's administered by injection, every six months. Where menopausal women might need their Prolia, I need my Incantation. Every six months or so, I need a new Onward to Golgotha. The biggest difference is, the old ladies take Prolia to keep their bones from breaking. I need Incantation for just the opposite.
Ectovoid's Fractured in the Timeless Abyss was just what the doctor ordered. The Alabama band engages in nothing but shameless Incantation worship, and that's just fine by me. When I was hearing another one of these every month, I was OD-ing, so I cut back. But even the mighty Disma could only tide me over for so long.
So we've already established that this is completely unoriginal, but it does a remarkable job of capturing the feel of this ugly, sepulchral style of death that began in the early 90's. The production is extremely analog and live-sounding, though much clearer than its most obvious inspiration. They don't pull any wild, modern tricks. The writing is what they would call a "period piece" if it were a movie, right down to the chromatic solos. They've even captured some of the charm of the time as well--see the sloppy-sounding tempo shift in "Chewing Through the Membranes of Time and Space" or the out-of-place piano outro of "Splintered Phantasm." The only "error" they made was picking a cover that looks like something from Death instead of Incantation. But it's awesome anyway.
The bottom line is that these songs made my head bob in time and my foot tap, probably annoying my cube neighbors. That's the body's natural reaction when hearing it seated at a desk with nose buried in paperwork. If this was on stage, cranked up, vertebrae would shatter.
This is a fine example of Incantation-worship. It doesn't break any ground, but it's not supposed to. It's supposed to break necks. (That's what it's supposed to do. You don't want to know the possible side effects.)
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Alabama death metal band Ectovoid are almost laughably lock-step with the rest of the current death metal scene and trends: old-school nostalgia worship, doing what's been done before without bring much of anything new to the table in terms of new ideas of unique concepts. It's little more then the sum of it's influences: Immolation(especially), Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Grave, etc. are all present and accounted for, and most of Fractured In The Timeless Abyss's listening time is spent tying all the influences to the different sections, checking off the appearance of each legend. It's even ripe with Lovecraftian imagery for fuck's sake, which at this point almost feels like a requirement more then a choice of lyrical concepts.
And ya know what? It's still pretty good.
For some readers of this blog, this is a pretty crazy statement coming from this reviewer, who probably hasn't made a ton of friends amongst the tried-and-true Old School 'Heads. And I went into Fractured In The Timeless Abyss wanting to hate it. It was an album which represents all of my current issues with the current death metal scene in spades. When I say not one new idea, I mean it: Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is in fact locked in a space-time disturbance, in which it is perpetually 1992(a horrifying thought.) After a dozen spins I could have developed a spreadsheet of "gently borrowed" riffs, ideas and compositions from a dozen different classic death metal acts, a good portion of those which I dislike greatly. This was an album I seemed destined to hate, one to fill me with righteous fury and reaffirm my disillusionment with the current "old-school is the only school" mythology dominating the genre.
So what the fuck? What's my angle? It comes down to a single word: craftsmanship. Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is like a finely made table: unspectacular and highly unoriginal, but solid and sturdy. The guys in Ectovoid are just rock solid musicians, and the band is tighter then a scene-queen's pre-teen jeans. Vocalist Chuck Bryant growls not only with unholy guttural intensity, but also with impressive clarity and pronunciation. In fact, not since Sonne Adam's Transformation has there been a more distinguishable vocal performance. Sure, he wastes it on time a dozen lyrics about "space horrors" and "coffins," but it's still a damn fine effort. And while Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is miles from what most would consider "Tech-Death," there are some damn complex riffs and leads through-out the album. Through sheer force of musicianship, production(clear but thick) and generally excellent performances, Fractured In The Timeless Abyss made a solid impression on me. It also features one of the years best songs, "Chewing Through the Membrane of Time and Space," a tight and tidy slice of Immolation-meets-Bolt Thrower not to be missed.
Fractured In The Timeless Abyss is truly little more then highly digestible, low-brow death metal; a rather convincing imitation of true nihilism and inhumanity, wrapped in a gorgeous cover and served ready-made for easy consumption. It's not a meal I normally partake of, but while the ingredients are little more then clever re-productions of reality, the men who made the meal are damn fine chefs. It might be the same ol' same ol' I've had a thousand times, but this one time it wasn't too bad at all.
originally posted at http://curseofthegreatwhiteelephant.blogspot.com/
Pretty much a textbook case for death metal nostalgia, Alabaman brutes Ectovoid will no doubt draw a lot of comparisons to the US pioneers Incantation, Immolation and Cianide in their use of stripped, authentic battering rhythm guitars and broad, ominous guttural vocals which create morbid, sepulchral atmospheres in contrast to the more harried riffing and eerie, breakout lead sequences. But where a lot of bands seek to drown this same set of influences in ridiculous levels of reverb to create an infinite, cavernous scope to the production, this trio deserves credit for allowing the sheer instrumentation to deliver that same, haunting effect, with loads of drums and constantly winding tremolo riffs that feel as if they were written in that critically important 1988-1993 period when the niche was just taking flight as the bastard child of thrash metal.
There's still a vaulted echo to the Pillard-esque vocals which places the band in the same sphere as many of their young contemporaries, but what I found interesting is that Ectovoid do not write like a bunch of slugs. This isn't death/doom like you'd expect out of, say, Father Befouled. They play fast as a rule, alternating between blasted passages and fibrous grooves which settle somewhere between the realms of Onward to Golgotha, Demilich's Nespithe and late 80s Bolt Thrower. I've read that the band invokes influence also from archaic doom and black metal sources, and I can certainly sense such an imprint, but more as an after-effect than in the actual architecture of the guitars, which are delivered with this oppressive, muddy tone that somehow doesn't manage to hijack the clarity of the notes. There is a quite natural air about the production, as if they made a conscious effort to avoid excess polish and deliver as honest and 'live' a sound as possible, with only the vocals sounding separate, and that's due to their sweltering, unearthly volume and inflection.
Riff-wise, I wouldn't call these the most novel of constructions, but advocates for returning to the analog roots of the style will be happy that they don't sound entirely derivative of other source material. Perhaps not all are patterned as evilly and memorable as one might desire, but Ectovoid floods the listener with such a constant, frothing miasma of churned change-ups and guttural atrocities that one never needs fear excess repetition (if it appears at all, it's only due to the stylistic similarity of so many of the selections). Choppier, slower paced riffs are used to break up the momentum in tracks like "Dark Clouds of Consciousness", walls of open, thundering chords vary up the tremolo picked passages, and the leads are quite well rendered to provide that added dimension of frightful melody that might be lacking in the deeper din of the rhythm section. I always felt like the music was effective, if individual tracks didn't prove all that distinctive from the whole.
Ultimately, Fractured in the Timeless Abyss is like suffocating in crude oil, a consistent and tremulous journey into the opacity of trans-dimensional horror that summons up all manner of Lovecraftian imagery. A cool record for those into other, recent abominations like Binah or Blaspherian.
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.
[Note: originally published at http://spinaltapdance.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/ectovoid-fractured-in-the-timeless-abyss-2012/]
Formed from the ashes of death/thrash metal outfit Bloated Carcass, the members behind the band return as Ectovoid, playing a rather different style of death metal, with a tinge of black metal added to their sound. This year sees Ectovoid releasing their debut full length album entitled Fractured in the Timeless Abyss and unlike the gory themes that Bloated Carcass had focussed on, Ectovoid presents a different side of the band, and instead sees the band focussing on more, shall we say, philosophical concepts.
Like the many old-school death metal revival gems out there, Fractured in the Timeless Abyss' raw and muddy production quality is immediately noticed right from the start, and the playing style of the band is extremely reminiscent to pioneers Incantation, early Incantation and the likes, with the dark and heavy atmosphere, the riffs that alternate between crushing and oppressive ones and furious trem-picked ones, and the gruff growls of vocalist Chuck. At times, Chuck even ups the abrasiveness of the record with the layering of higher pitched shrieks on top of his growls. The slight thrash elements that are present in the music of Ectovoid at times also bring to mind bands like Perversor with their blackened brand of death/thrash metal, with the frantic pace of the music, mainly courtesy of drummer Chris who tears apart his drum set without mercy, and easily transiting between furious segments and heavier and intense segments.
Throughout the record as well, Michael includes some stark contrast in the music with his soaring lead guitar works that stand out from the low, bassy rhythm guitars on the album. The lead works also range from an absolutely chaotic style to one that is extremely melodic, displaying his versatility on his instrument. The thing that really topped the entire experience of Fractured in the Timeless Abyss is the raw production quality of the album, bringing listeners back to the late 80s/early 90s and is reminiscent of records such as Onward to Golgotha, providing a touch of authenticity compared to the modern production style that many bands tend to prefer nowadays. The muddiness of the record allowed for the low, chugging riffs, the bass and the drums to have a really hard-hitting impact on the listener, increasing the intensity of the music.
Honestly, in this day and age where old school death metal revival bands are a dime a dozen, it is hard to find any discernible difference between releases, and Ectovoid suffers from the same problem, with little unique elements that make it really stand out, apart from the lyrical themes that the band indulges in. However, with the superb execution that is displayed on Fractured in the Timeless Abyss, this is album is still a gem that will certainly appeal to fans of OSDM.
There are moments where I really question myself about why I dislike the whole metal scene today, and why I can't enjoy them to the fullest. Old school bands come in malicious hordes and decimate everything in their path, but there are also old school bands that love their atmosphere, and can incorporate the perfect measure of hard-hitting riffs into their atmospheric tendencies. I really didn't see Ectovoid coming. Hellthrasher productions are signing better and better bands every month, and I would have had no doubts about this band's quality had I known they were releasing an album. Ectovoid really has a short discography, consisting of just one demo and their full-length ''Fractured In The Timeless Abyss'', a subterranean obelisk of cavernous brutality. Yes, that's what these guys are all about. They bring so much nostalgia to the listener that it just strikes like a bolt of lighting, thunderous and effective.
At first, I questioned the Metal Archives for dubbing this as black/death metal, because all I heard was dense, doomy, even Incantation influenced death metal, swaying along a crude path with a substantial amount of groove. But as I listened with more care, I tiny details that adorn the blasphemous death metal power that the album already possessed. These tiny details I'm talking about are buried beneath a ton of hefty music going on above, and sometimes their dispersion isn't not spread out equivalently, but the main point is that these guys actually have a small amount of black metal influence around them, and that can only mean good news. The atmosphere is right there, and a dense current of ambiance is always supporting the riffs from the back, enabling them to go atmospheric as well. The album delves a lot into death/doom territory as well, a fine line of decrepit, sludgy riffs maintaining the the balance of the music. Black metal tremolo passages are incredibly common, but they're rather a resultant of Incantation and black metal riffs combined, exploding with a thick sound and some queer twists that happen to occur during the execution of the riffs. The vocals are also a shadowed mass, grisly guttural lows that fit into the music perfectly.
The leads on this album are almost none, but I do like the cavernous tinge of brooding melodies found on ''Locked In Dismal Gaze''. Most of the riffs are actually robust combinations of simple, mid paced chord progressions and Incantation-esque tremolo bursts. The most apparent aspect of ''Fractured Into The Timeless Abyss'' is its fair share of atmosphere and brutality and groove, thriving passion and moods more prominently than crushing sections which are usually sections that are commonly used in death metal. Sure, this may not be as cavernous or aura laden as say ''Netherwards'' or the maniacal demo by Hellige, but it does exclude an amount of sharp, piercing riffs in order to increase the dominance of the thick fog of timeless abyss surrounding it. Many typical headbangers may find the lack of crunchy, headbang friendly riffs as a big flaw though people who give more importance to musical quality will admire, if not enjoy the classy riffs and aspects created on this album. I now salute you towards your journey into the timeless abyss.
Locked In Dismal Gaze
Well, well, I must admit that I’m more and more impressed by the work, which Hellthrasher Productions does. Only a year ago this Polish label has been slowly starting, releasing few better or worse CDs, but I’ve been watching their activity ever since then and nowadays I must say that they’re doing just awesome job! In many ways I think I can compare them to Agonia Records as both labels release a good quantity of albums, but always keep the certain quality to them, which is something not so common and usual in most of the especially bigger labels. The only difference between Hellthrasher and Agonia is that Agonia releases the albums of already well known and established bands, while Hellthrasher focused on the beginners, bands which only just been starting their underground metal crusade. And that’s of course way more difficult, to find bands, which are good enough that it’s worth investing your time and money into them and promote their album.
Ectovoid is an example for such band, which has been discovered by Hellthrasher in the depths of the underground. This Alabama, USA, based band has just been formed back in 2010 and released only one demo, “Breathing Blackness” in 2011 after which they must have been noticed by Hellthrasher, who immediately offered them a contract. Well, I don’t know that demo yet (I’m waiting for it now, as the band was so kind that they’ve sent me a copy of it!), but I can assure you that what I hear on the album is something way more impressive that I ever expected it to be. Yeah, let’s put all my cards with aces on the table – “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” is just an amazing album and I wouldn’t waste my time writing this, if it wasn’t the truth. Damn, I think that from all the releases, which Hellthrasher has putted out so far this CD belongs to my favourites, at least together with Intestinal’s “The Rottening”, Escarnium’s “Rex Vomitorium” and Decaying’s “Encirclement”. But even among all those albums, “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” could be my favourite piece!
So, what does Ectovoid serve us on this slab of plastic? Well, they’re from USA, so there’s only one true and correct answer – brutal death metal! Yeah, but that doesn’t say much, so if I add such monikers as Immolation, Incantation plus Morbid Angel, Autopsy and maybe a bit of the old Finnish death metal bands like Demigod, Convulse and Purtenance, then I hope your imagination of the cadaverous work of Ectovoid will be closer to the truth. “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” is 666% old styled piece of classic death metal in the vein of the mentioned bands, and despite the fact that this isn’t anything new, I still hail this band for this album as the quality of their material is just supreme and better than most of other old school bands (and sometimes even better than the originals!). The main strength of Ectovoid’s music lays within the atmosphere, which these three guys have created with their music and within the riffs, which are just killer and are composed into ultimately brilliant songs. This music is very thick, dense with dark, sinister type of melodies and riffs, with great arrangements, which balance between the ghastly doomy parts and mid paced, brutal death metal. Every song on “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” brings the slaughter and instant genocide, riffs are crushing like the 10 tons heavy wall of sound, the drums are a real death beats and the vocals are some of the most ghoulish and guttural you can imagine. And while listening to this album I just cannot decide which my favourite parts of it are as basically everything on it is top notch and I do not hesitate saying there’s nothing missing and everything is just as it should be. Of course such tracks as “Dark Clouds of Consciousness” with its brilliant, memorable main riff (very much influenced by the cult of Immolation), “Splintered Phantasm”, “Locked in Dismal Gaze” with its dismal, doomy opening theme or “Murmurs From Beyond” are the pieces, which I found as most tremendous and impressive, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the songs are less killer.
The other thins I must mention about “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” are: the very good production, in which I really like the guitar tone a lot as well as how the vocals are performed and mixed into everything and also the killer front artwork, which looks just superb and quite original at the same time (I also really like Ectovoid’s logo!). And so, when all the elements of the music plus its package are so high rated by me I cannot imagine not buying the vinyl version of “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss”, which I hope Blood Harvest will release soon. And if you’re not into black wax, then you must get the CD from Hellthrasher as this album is an absolutely must have thing for you, if you call yourself a death metal maniac. With all respect, if there wasn’t Disma’s “Towards the Megalith” LP and also albums from Horrendous and Father Befouled, then I would call Ectovoid the biggest US sensation since the formation of late80’s and early 90’s legends and Nile few years later.
Standout tracks: “Dark Clouds of Consciousness”, “Splintered Phantasm”, “Locked in Dismal Gaze”, “Murmurs From Beyond”