Ectovoid hails from Birmingham, but not from that Birmingham – not from the birthplace of heavy metal Birmingham, England. Rather, Ectovoid comes from Birmingham, Alabama, the birthplace of… Condoleeza Rice… and Emmylou Harris… and SEC football…
But it turns out that one steel town may be as good as another. Even a quarter of a world apart, both make for fertile breeding for the metal, even if the American one is quite a ways behind in cranking out the classic bands.
As for this particular trio, they started in this manner: 2012’s Fractured In The Timeless Abyss was a strong debut, one that evoked definite images of Incantation, falling somewhere between that band’s noxious take on blasphemy and Cianide’s straightforward pounding death. And though it may not have been the most original approach on earth, it was absolutely a well-done and enjoyable slab of cavernous death metal.
And now, some three years later, they’re back for round two, and Dark Abstraction is a distinct improvement.
Most notable, the production here is markedly less murky. Plenty of bands mined that Incantation cave dry over the past however many years, and so, though Ectovoid still sports semblances of Incantation’s tar-pit doom-ish lurch, their signature “blanket over the speakers” sound has been foregone in favor of a crisper, more direct attack. This Abstraction is more Autopsy carving than Incantation cavern, and it’s a far better listen for it. Everything benefits from the lack of mud in the mix, particularly the sharpened guitars, although the snare drum sound could still use further crackle to really punch through.
Otherwise, for the most part, Dark Abstraction is a logical continuation of what the band began in the Timeless Abyss. The riffs are generally pretty straightforward, either tremolo-picked brutality or down-tempo crawling squalls, and they’re effective at either speed. Occasionally, as in the back half of “Mental Netherworlds,” dashes of blackness emerge, although I’d be hard-pressed to call Ectovoid “blackened” in any way. Bassist C.B.’s vocals are deep and guttural, never really varying from that attack except for a wordless scream here or there. Honestly, a bit more vocal variety would go a long way in pushing Ectovoid higher up the ladder, but that’s not to say that C.B.’s performance is a detriment, merely a bit monochromatic. The bass isn’t always super-distinct between the guitar bite and the drum bash, but when it pokes forth in the likes “Precipice Of Absolute Chaos,” it’s an ugly and beautiful beast, blessed with a wondrous gnarly tone.
Ultimately, like almost all death metal, or all metal in general, Dark Abstraction’s success comes down to its riffs and its songs. After a blasting introduction, when “Visions Of Reflective Decay” drops into a half-time trudge, the combination of C.B.’s growl and the twisting riff is death-doom perfection. “Twisted thoughts course through me / with terrifying persistence…” Yeah, we’ve all been there, buddy… Tell us more about it, and keep up the killer riffs while you’re at it… There’s nary a dud track in the bunch, with particular standouts in the thrash-to-blast “The Expanse Between Slumber And Death,” that trudge in “… Reflective Decay,” and an equally toxic crawl-to-crash in “Precipice…”
Up from the depths of hell, or at least from Alabama, Ectovoid isn’t really rewriting the book on anything, but they’re good at what they do, and Dark Abstraction is a fun little slice of down and dirty doomy death from a young band on the rise…