Oh, how I long for the days when a new promo would incite a spark of anticipation in me; even a flickering sense of obligation. Someone, somewhere deemed my opinion valuable enough to pass along an advance of some precious child of god’s craftsmanship along with a simple request that goes like this: You love music, right? Will you therefore dedicate a mere half hour of your inhabitance on this silly, terrestrial plane to a listening experience? Potentially moving, maddening or revelatory: your call, Chief. We promise naught but wild capacity and would dearly appreciate your thoughts…
How can I deny these well meaning field agents this pedestrian service? Am I an advocate of my favorite genre or not? The answer is advocate. The answer is soldier! Bring ’em on!
Then, as the months barrel forward and the promos continue to multiply within your inbox like Christ’s proverbial fishes and loaves, it comes into crystal clear, 4K focus exactly how one can manage that denial. Advance promotionals quickly foxtrot from a welcome grab-bag of potential delights to something more akin to mosquitoes over an Alabamian creek bed. Each one yet another mouth to feed -or else to be fed upon by. Another damned obligation. (Not to mention my gluten intolerance; thanks but no thanks, Christ!) And yet, there are treasures aplenty just there for the plundering. There have to be, right?
Upon running into an old friend of mine a month or so back, I was introduced to a gentleman who happened to have a keen interest in my relationship with Decibel. “You write for those guys?” he asked with what I perceived as a gratifying undercurrent of commendation.
“I contribute—upon occasion,” I corrected with counterfeit modesty. (Actually, I hadn’t offered up a piece in months but the attention was suitably flattering, so let’s do this shit.)
Turning to our mutual friend, he somberly informed him, “Decibel is the death metal bible for the US.”
My friend arched an eyebrow. “Yeah? You know, my buddy here has a death metal band.”
“Cool, man,” I offered, “what’re you guys called?”
He dismissively waved his hand, “You wouldn’t have heard of us. We’re called Ectovoid.”
Well that’s where you’re wrong brother. I have your friggin’ promo burning a hole in my inbox as we speak! Ergo, Ectovoid it is. The recipient of Fallow Heart’s unwavering attention and deconstructive criticism…
Inner Death 7″
Blood Harvest Records
deckline: Rattle And—Om Mani Padme—Hum
First off, I’ll divulge a peculiar prejudice. Bumping into a dude in a context incongruous to his musical output lowers my expectations of the potential quality of his work dramatically. What’s up with that? I seriously don’t get it. If I stumble across your ‘project’ on Instagram, I assume you’re at least competent in regards to your craft, but in person? You’re staring down the barrel of an uphill battle, Chief. Is it simply corporeality that unwhetts my suspense? Could be. How gross.
When I was a kid, my band would record our songs through air on my Mastervox like the total, atavistic bosses that we were. I remember that my one buddy Tim’s highest complement on hearing one of those masterworks was, “Damn! That part there almost sounds real!” ‘Real’ as in ‘a facsimile of something one might expect from a professional,’ I suppose. It was fuckin’ mondo praise, ladies and gentlemen. I dearly wanted my music to sound real. Shit, I think maybe Tim’s still in the wire. I think he’s delineated my bassline. ‘Real’ gets you a condescending ‘atta boy!’ Heaven help you, Ectovoid.
Oh damn, damn! I’m already halfway through the first track on a three song EP! Focus, you bastard. Center yourself!
Alright, lets check the manual for deets. The promotional suggests that Inner Death showcases Ectovoid’s characteristic style, only now ‘exhibiting a world-eating bestiality.’ Funny thing about advertising something along those lines: it insinuates a basis for comparison; ergo, one can only assume that the anonymous author of this blurb has actually witnessed a terrifying beast straight up Hoovering a planet. Blimey, such restraint! You’ve got a hell of a scoop there! You really want to shoot the shit about some prerelease after what you’ve been subjected to? Take a personal day. Drink some green tea and rest baby; you’ve earned it!
Where was I? Oh, we’re advised that Ectovoid are suitable for fans of Autopsy, Incantation and Immolation. ‘Ask Blood Harvest if Ectovoid is right for you.’ Thanks for the hot tip, promo, but Autopsy? Really? I don’t know, I think that may be a stretch… Those other two, sure. More than anything, I’m hearing a ton of early Grave and a smidge of Devastation here and it’s fucking awesome, but Autopsy? Then again, who am I to say how anyone should or shouldn’t hear or relate to anything?
A concept that I regularly touch on in my wine lectures regards our presumption of other individual’s perceptions. Mon Dieu! I’ve nearly garroted scads of reps who insist that I taste blacktop or violet or licorice or strawberry as I analyze a wine. Scurry the hell away from my left shoulder, you devil. How the fuck do you know how strawberry tastes to anyone other than yourself? You can’t and you don’t; you merely assume that your experiences are general to all others with the basic capability to perceive flavor. If I inform you that I’m ‘seeing red,’ you’ll definitely catch my drift and note my clenched fists. What you don’t know is that you and I perceive the colour itself in the same way. I have no need for any rep’s or wine-writer’s ‘aroma wheel,’ thank you. I’ll cheerfully build my own. What I’m saying is: maybe, Ectovoid sounds exactly like Autopsy. Who can say? Huh…
Oh, bloody hell. The promo’s already over. Damn. Alright, let’s start this cocksucker back up. Jesus, am I horny for Autopsy right now! Didn’t the singer for In Solitude once describe Autopsy as a band that was so good, they shouldn’t exist? Pretty sure that was in Decibel. Hey! Six degrees of separation, am I right?
Okay, I’m here. I’m in it for real, now. My diagnosis: Ectovoid is no foolin’ grody, like Imprecation or prime Asphyx. You just want to hose yourself off after each play through; you’re just caked with filth. Great sense of movement in the ol’ riff department. Vocals are righteously malodorous. Nice, quasi-melodic counterpoint there on “Archaic Memories Unearthed.” Also, man.. .I hate that In Solitude broke up. Sister was borderline genius! I held out so much hope that there’d be a do-over for those guys. Why do brilliant bands fly apart like that while Asking Alexandria is still a thing? It’s like some sort of immoral typo. There ought to be a cosmic referee that makes the final calls on incidentals like this.
Gosh, the word ‘ought’ looks really f-ing weird to me right now! Has it always been spelled that way or does it start with an ‘a’?
Snap out of it, man, you’re doing it again! Concentrate.
Okey-doke. So… my only significant criticism here regards Ectovoid’s rhythm department—department? Ugh, how labored can you be, asshole? We’re talking death metal here, not friggin’ Bloomingdale’s—it’s a touch too rickety; in fact distractingly so on the closing track. Could stand to have those bolts tightened up but the tones captured here are really excellent. The snare and toms sounds great. Hell, the whole recording belches out a crude, homespun menace. Like a splintered old baseboard with a single crooked nail just glaring up at you.
Man, one time I was giving a lecture standing behind a table made of reclaimed wood and as I moved to pour the next wine, the biggest splinter on terra firma skewered me right through the crotch. Hurt so fucking bad that I considered becoming a Christian again just so that I could re-renounce God and also, I’m pretty sure that I astral projected for a second or two. I played it off, though; just kept yapping about acetic acid and surreptitiously yanked the offending lancet out of my butchered junk. For a moment, the area just below my belt buckle probably looked like a unicorn with a bloody nose.
Wowza, I’m all over the place. Supposedly, upon being asked to explain the gross surplus of his wealth, Andrew Carnegie responded by saying, “I can absolutely focus on one subject—and one subject alone—for five minutes at a stretch. Can you?” It would appear that I’m no Andrew Carnegie. At least not today. Today, I’m an unfocused Ectoboy. Inner Death is absolutely worthy; grab it if you can. Put another way, it sounds real and I’m glad to have made its acquaintance. Speaking of real: carbon dioxide is one of the most virulent greenhouse gases on the planet, results in wildly unwonted ocean acidification and is lethal if inhaled at levels higher than .15 bars and yet we add it to a can of filthy brown syrup, feed it to the children and refer to it as the ‘The Real Thing.‘ Inner death indeed…
“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Here I go again…”
“Foc-us? Shouldn’t it be ‘foc-me?'”