The age-old debate: whether Britain or the US has the better heavy metal. Although it’s not the time or place to get into that argument here, it is a fact of life that the more obscure locations always produce the moxt exotic, innovative metal bands. Par example: Norway has Mayhem, Finland has Nightwish, Japan has Dir en Grey and, of course, Brazil has Sepultura.
Hungary’s Ektomorf may prove the exception to the rule. Carrying the torch of the legendary Brazilian outfit for over a decade now, the band create a furious, very mosh-friendly churn on Outcast, their seventh full-length, and even inject a forced, omnipresent Max Cavalera accent into their mega-macho delivery. Someone ought to tell Ektomorf that it’s getting predictable and old. Frontman Zoltan Farkas, the picture of a pissed-off hate machine, is to thank for most of the disc’s spitted one-liners, which rank alongside Hatebreed in pure dumbness; “I can’t understand why the people are so fake / but I know they will never change,” he whines on “Who Can I Trust (Prayer)”. And that, believe it or not, is one of the more subdued moments on the disc, in that it slows down enough to feature a sitar solo—always a nifty compositional tool.
Elsewhere, Farkas relies on age-old cliches and frequent cussing to express his rage; it’s more than likely to try your patience, if you can be bothered tapping into his harsh hernia moan rather than grooving and/or venting your frustration along with the rest of the band. Granted, anger and intelligence are not adjectives which commonly go hand in hand—but there are much better, more poignant ways to express your message than what’s on offer on Outcast. “I cannot breathe! I choke!” he snarls on “I Choke”. But who are ambiguous hooks like these directed at, and are the fourpiece unnecessarily working themselves up to a false state of agression? (Like Metallica; by coincidence, the intro to “Ambush in the Night” sounds like a replica of “Frantic”.)
“We Rise”, which has a hook of “We rise!”, is thoroughly the most done-before, one-dimensional song a metal band could write in this day and age, and Ektomorf outdo themselves with their rendition by driving the phrase even farther into the ground. Ditto for “Leave Me Alone”, although hard-thrashing cut “Fuel My Fire” has a melodic and honest-to-goodness impressive guitar solo in the thick of the chaos. Farkas’ vocal work is in truth the least interesting part of Outcast; the straightforward instruments, punishing syncopated drumming (I believe it’s called “tribal drumming”) and bass, scattered with a handful of Sepultura-learnt folk influences, is by far the best aspect of it. But it’s nothing that can’t be learnt by revisiting Roots. Even the steady crash of the backdrop wears itself out before the end, and what is left is a record that has nothing under its surface.
On “I’m Against”, which relies on a very Slipknot-esque breakdown full of shrill shred notes, while the frontman himself pummels away over the top with “Fuck this shit!”, you realize that Ektomorf, originally showing so much promise, is ‘just another metal band’ with nowhere to go and nothing new to say. Although they’re the first thing out of Hungary since Omega, and even though their technical proficiency and focus may be enough to get them by as a Sepultura tribute band, the cold hard reality is that they’re certainly not either original or set to be the next big thing in metal. Pity.