Album Review – Ektomorf / Retribution (2014)

A very good “primitive” album from a relatively new Eastern European Groove/Thrash Metal band.

Rating5

ektomorf_retributionAlthough Retribution is already Ektomorf’s 9th studio album, it’s the first one from this Groove/Thrash Metal Hungarian band founded in 1993 I’ve ever listened to, and to be honest with you I felt really happy to know there are still some new bands in the world doing this more primitive and aggressive type of music, even though it’s not totally original.

I read somewhere that due to the gypsy background from lead singer/founder Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas (he’s from Mezőkovácsháza, a small Hungarian city near the border of Romania), he faced a lot of racism and prejudice that held back Ektomorf from an international career. Fortunately, it seems all this bullshit is being expunged from our society and replaced by wise people willing to listen to good heavy music, no matter where it comes from.

Retribution starts in a very brutal way with the excellent song You Can’t Control Me, whose intro, heavy riffs and constant pounding already remind me of the musicality from Sepultura, Soulfly and even Slipknot. One characteristic found not only in this track, but in the whole album, is Zoli’s pronounced Eastern European accent: it’s not bad though, just different, and ends up adding something more rudimentary or “primeval” to the overall quality of the album.

When I listened to the next track, the groovier Ten Plagues, I immediately thought about Max Cavalera being probably one of Zoli’s biggest idols, as well as Anders Fridén, from Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons In Flames. The following track, Face Your Fear, sounds like a heavy sequence to the previous track, while Escape has a more modern sonority and it’s the closest one to the American Nu Metal. Then comes Who The Fuck Are You, the most Thrash Metal track of Retribution, and probably the one with the angriest lyrics of all too.

The album goes on with Numb And Sick, with its great riffs and the clean vocals from Cris Machado (Ill Niño) complementing Zoli’s guttural, making it one of the best of the album. In my humble opinion, this type of partnership with some established North American bands like Ill Niño is extremely important, as it’s usually what opens the doors in the United States and Canada to bands from different parts of the world, like Ektomorf, something that North America is in desperate need due to the amount of prefabricated junk we have to swallow down every single day while watching TV or listening to the radio here.

ektomorfGetting back to Retribution, Lost And Destroyed is for me the weakest track of the album, mainly due to the lack of violence, while Souls Of Fire is totally based on the music from Sepultura, especially from Against or Sepulnation, with its awesome rampant rythym. Then Ektomorf offer us an excellent and damn heavy version for Verbal Abuse’s I Hate You: although I still prefer the version from my Thrash Metal heroes Slayer, I must admit Zoli and his crew did an astounding job here too. Another very good track is Watch Me, which is even more inspired by Sepultura, more specifically in the song Dusted from the classic album Roots.

The last part of the album has Mass Ignorance, another violent track with great riffs and vocals; Save Me, which is a lot slower than the rest of the album, but as heavy as hell anyway; and  Whisper, a song with a very interesting riff and many music elements from bands such as In Flames and Soilwork. The CD version also contains a bonus track called Collapsed Bridge, a nice semi-acoustic ballad where it’s possible to notice the band’s gypsy influences.

The very inspired album art is also another highlight of Retribution, and again it might be just me but I can see a high influence from Sepultura’s Roots and Against there too. In summary, a very good album from a band not many people know about, and a great step for a band that should gain more respect and grow musically and creatively speaking in their path to success.

Best moments of the album: You Can’t Control Me, Numb And Sick, Souls Of Fire and I Hate You.

Worst moments of the album: Lost And Destroyed and Save Me.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. You Can’t Control Me 2:15
2. Ten Plagues 3:20
3. Face Your Fear 2:23
4. Escape 3:24
5. Who The Fuck Are You 2:32
6. Numb And Sick (feat. Cris Machado) 2:42
7. Lost And Destroyed 4:09
8. Souls Of Fire 4:26
9. I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover) 2:08
10. Watch Me 3:23
11. Mass Ignorance 2:42
12. Save Me 2:50
13. Whisper 5:56

CD bonus track
14. Collapsed Bridge 3:07

Band members
Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas – vocals, guitar
Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner – guitar
Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai – bass
Róbert Jaksa – drums

Guest musicians
Cris Machado – clean vocals on “Numb And Sick”

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Album Review – Sepultura / Roots (1996)

“Sepultura do Brasil” changed the world of music with the most creative Thrash Metal album of all time.

Rating2

Sepultura_-_RootsThe year of 1996 was a very special year in my life: it was my last year in high school, I finally turned 18, I was dating the most beautiful girl of the entire school, and in terms of music I saw Maiden live for the first time as well as some other awesome bands such as Helloween, Manowar, The Ramones, and my countrymen from Sepultura. I used to love listening to Beneath the Remains, Arise and Chaos A.D., but they simply blew my mind with the most innovative Thrash Metal album of all time: Roots.

Every relevant Thrash Metal band in the world has at least one unique album that redefined that music genre somehow, like Bonded by Blood from Exodus or Reign in Blood from Slayer. In the case of Sepultura, it was Roots that made them reach the top of the charts and become a reference for all future Thrash Metal bands. There were so many new elements in this album that I could spend hours writing about each one of them, but I’ll focus on the most important one in my opinion, which was Max Cavalera’s voice. He brilliantly turned his voice into a musical instrument, reaching some insane notes and sounding more violent than ever, changing the way many other guttural singers used their voices from that year on. Check out at the end of this post the video for Roots Bloody Roots, Sepultura’s all-time classic, and you’ll be able to see how his voice fully integrates with the other instruments giving a special punch to the whole album.

Sepultura-RootsThe most famous songs from Roots are Roots Bloody Roots, of course, Attittude with its amazing riffs and lyrics, and my least favorite one Ratamahatta (the lyrics don’t make any sense at all, it’s just a bunch of stupid disconnected Brazilian words, with a guest musician that makes me want to vomit just by hearing his name). However, you must pay attention carefully to the rest of the album because there are so many good guitar riffs, lyrics and percussion that will make you listen to Roots non-stop for weeks. You’ll find heavy and violent tracks, such as Straighthate, Spit, Cut-Thorat and Dictatorshit; some songs that were unimaginable for a Thrash Metal band before that like Lookaway (with the crazy Mike Patton as a special guest) and Ambush; and some material that doesn’t even sound Metal, but are extremely important for the album concept: Jasco and Itsári, this one being recorded with an aboriginal tribe in Brazil called the Xavantes. All songs connected, all representing a sad and violent side of Brazil. And the front cover is just amazing, perfectly summarizing the whole album in one single image.

My version of the album (which was probably the one released only in Brazil) had two great covers for Celtic Frost’s Procreation of the Wicked and Sabbath’s Symptom of the Universe, this one also featuring in that good Sabbath tribute called Nativity in Black. If you don’t have these two songs in your version of Roots, you should go after them.

There are very few things that make me proud of being Brazilian, and Sepultura and Roots are part of this “selected” group. This album is so great that it has not only changed Thrash Metal, it has changes music in general. Sepultura do Brasil! Um, dois, três… VAI!

Best moments of the album: Roots Bloody Roots, Attitude, Straighthate and Born Stubborn.

Worst moments of the album: Ratamahatta and Endangered Species.

Released in 1996 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Roots Bloody Root 3:32
2. Attitude 4:15
3. Cut-Throat 2:44
4. Ratamahatta 4:30
5. Breed Apart 4:01
6. Straighthate 5:21
7. Spit 2:45
8. Lookaway 5:26
9. Dusted 4:03
10. Born Stubborn 4:07
11. Jasco (instrumental) 1:57
12. Itsári (instrumental) 4:48
13. Ambush 4:39
14. Endangered Species 5:19
15. Dictatorshit 1:26

Band members
Max Cavalera – vocals, rhythm guitar, 4-string guitar, berimbau
Igor Cavalera – drums, percussion, timbau, djembe
Paulo Jr. – bass guitar, timbau grandé
Andreas Kisser – lead guitar, sitar, backing vocals