I wasn’t aware of the existence of Ektomorf from Hungary, but album reviews are always an opportunity to discover new bands and cultures. The band is active since 1993, formed by two brothers, Zoltan and Csaba Farkas (vocals, guitars, songwriting and bass respectively), and they play a more modern form of thrash, with grooves, intense rhythmic parts and a clear hardcore orientation. After “Outcast” in 2006, Csaba withdrew; hence, since then, Ektomorf is exclusively Zoltan’s personal project.
It’s impressive that they have released fifteen records so far, while most of them were produced by well-known labels. That alone could be an incentive for someone to search through such an extended discography. My first contact with them was their recent album, “Reborn”, via Napalm Records. Unfortunately, that was an experience that I don’t consider as worth mentioning or sharing with others.
Ektomorf’s rather groovy approach to thrash is heavily influenced by bands such as Machine Head, Sepultura and Soulfly. Of course, this is not bad; everybody has influences and makes use of them to a certain extent; what doesn’t work at all in “Reborn” is inspiration from these roots. The album offers what the fans of the above-mentioned bands expect: plenty of dynamic rhythmic patterns and grooves, hateful lyrics, aggressive attitude. You will find these elements in abundance. However, Ektomorf’s music is naive, giving you the impression that they haven’t “built” anything on the fundamental principles they rely on. Instead, they just use some simple riffs that have scattered throughout the album. In that sense, they don’t create something on their own, failing to form a unique identity.
The opening with “Ebullition” may sound promising, but soon expectations become futile. Indeed, “Reborn” is full of simplistic riffing patterns that repeat the same ideas, making it hard for you to find something that attracts your interest and curiosity. Mundane, stale vocal patterns and some disappointing refrains become tiring after some point, while transitions between different themes are certainly not the best I’ve come across. Despite all the uniformity and mediocrity, you can spot some references to Metallica’s melodic moments, like in “Reborn” and “Where the Hate Conceives”; but these are just a few ideas, insufficient to upgrade the album’s quality. As for the worst track, that might be “And the Dead Will Walk”, where their intention was to make something slow and malicious, but they only made me proceed to the next song.
Even “Forsaken” fails to fulfill its purpose. Instrumentals are supposed to compensate for the absence of vocals with clever, efficient songwriting. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in the slightest degree here. Instead, we have lack of appealing themes, that’s intensified by the unnecessary long duration (7 minutes are indeed too much for this track). You have to wait patiently, until you reach the album’s finale to hear something interesting: “Smashing the Past”, despite its problems, has a straightforward thrash attitude that can shake you violently, allowing you to escape -even briefly- from the previously inflicted boredom.
Despite my dislike for “Reborn”, I didn’t want to be unfair with the band. As I wrote in my opening line, I didn’t know their activity; hence, I dedicated many of my evening hours searching through previous works, trying to find out if “Reborn” is just an unlucky exception amidst a series of high-quality albums, or another chain in a rather mediocre discography. Sadly, what I heard was uninspired, flat and repeating as well, nothing more than a Soulfly’s or Machine Head’s imitation. In that sense, I regard records like “Black Flag” and “Fury” even worse than “Reborn”, which is somehow “upgraded” due to its orientation to Metallica’s sound and approach at certain parts.
Nothing more can be commented about an album where the search for fillers is meaningless since the whole album is a filler itself and the only positive aspect is the modern, clear production, which of course cannot save the day. If you are active for almost thirty years and you do nothing more than replicating others’ concepts, then you don’t go anywhere. That means lack of abilities and obviously we cannot spend much of our time in these bands.