Ektomorf_AggressorGiven how Ektomorf sounds (hint: like Soulfly), you’re probably surprised to see my name up there in the author’s hot seat instead of Dr. Fisting’s due to existing AMG precedents. Cards on the table: I brought this upon myself. Why? Because I’ve heard a few of their records before, and they have a loud yet ultimately disposable charm, and I figured Aggressor would continue in this vein because Ektomorf isn’t known for change. I went in with measured expectations, and knew partway through my first spin that Aggressor wasn’t Record o’ the Year material. That doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining, but it does mean it can’t be great.

Ektomorf have found vitality in the power of groovy, hooky, and simplistic riffs throughout their long existence, and Aggressor brings nothing new to the table. For those new to the party, imagine Roots and the first three Soulfly records had a lobotomy which made them incapable of doing anything but being angry and/or distraught over thick riffs, but these riffs are based on hardcore instead of nu-metal. Guitarist/vocalist Zoltan Farkas sounds almost identical to Max Cavalera with a better handle on pronouncing words in English but the same handle on writing in proper English, so prepare for some unintentional humor.

It’s also quite apparent Ektomorf studied their biggest influences too closely. Opener “I” launches into what’s basically a sequel to Soulfly‘s “Eye For An Eye” and is energetic enough to not be tepid or too redundant and instead be simple fun. The pillaging continues with “Seek n’ Strike” clearly being the basis of “Move On” (seriously, listen to the vocal phrasing), and “Damned Nation” sounding like a Primitive outtake that should have made the cut and replaced “Jumpdafuckup” to save Cavalera from a joke he’ll never live down. Lyrically it’s still Cavalera-tier wordplay (zero points for guessing what other word can be derived from the title), but at least Corey Taylor doesn’t whine for the whole verse and the J-word isn’t uttered. Ektomorf didn’t learn from well-documented history what a shitty idea rapping over this stuff is, and “You Lost” is the unfortunate result of that oversight. On the topic of early 2000s entry-level metal cliches, the mandatory clean-yet-gruff chorus of “Emotionless World” fares better by being catchy, but it’s beaten into near irrelevance by the repetition hammer before its conclusion.

Ektomorf_2015The appeal of bands like Ektomorf and Soulfly lies in them being base-level entertainment made to be played loudly and provide instant gratification via kinetic heaviness, and these guys succeed in that regard. It’s the epitome of straightforward, essentially being physicality put to music, but for many of us there’s occasionally the time where the simple is preferable to the cerebral. To wit, it’s far more rewarding to play Dark Souls than it is to go on a cheat-fueled tank massacre in Grand Theft Auto V, but the mindless violence can act as a small form of catharsis or just provide simple, immediate, and mindless fun. Aggressor is an entire record full of audible tank rampages, and in turn has one true highlight. “Evil by Nature” features the vocal prowess of Corpsegrinder, and Ektomorf tried to make their guest feel right at home by giving him a simpler version of “Evisceration Plague” to layer his monstrous vocals over before going into a legitimately surprising and effective thrash break with satisfying phrase trade-offs between Corpsegrinder and Farkas. The only problem is that Corpsegrinder outperforms Farkas to such a degree that the latter’s vocals sound nearly impotent in comparison.

Aggressor sounds like Ektomorf, which is what everyone expected of it anyway. Tue Madsen and the band’s befuddling decision to make the bass almost silent when it could add real weight to the riffs is just as confusing here as it was on Black Flag and their other post-2003 releases, but at least the guitars are chunky and the drums adopt Madsen’s typically good sound to make up for it. Oh, Aggressor also doesn’t have a high DR rating but I’m not going to feign surprise about that. It’s inferior to Black Flag, and neither record is one you need in your life by any stretch of the imagination. Aggressor‘s appeal is a nostalgic one, reminding me of a simpler, now distant time when I looked hungrily at the buffet of metal and ate up everything with glee – this mostly well-constructed yet shallow and chug-heavy entertainment being one of my favorite dishes. But this can’t sustain us forever. Thirteen year old Diabolus would’ve loved this record, but much older Diabolus realizes that you can’t go home again when it comes to one’s earliest and least-informed taste in metal, and that’s a great thing. And yet, it’s still nice to see the odd Polaroid now and again.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: Ektomorf Official | facebook.com/Ektomorf
Releases Worldwide: November 20th, 2015

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  • Dr. Fisting can’t jumpdafuckup for a few weeks due to a hip issue.

    • Sometimes it feels nice to sitdafuckdown.

      • eloli

        How about fuckin’dafuckdown? :D

  • eloli

    “Thirteen year old Diabolus would’ve loved this record, but much older Diabolus realizes that you can’t go home again when it comes to one’s earliest and least-informed taste in metal, and that’s a great thing.”

    For me, it’s kind of the exact opposite: at 43, I find myself still enjoying the same visceral thrill my supposedly least-informed taste in metal gave me at 13, like Ozzy, Crüe, Twisted Sister, Ratt, Dio, Van Halen, Judas, Maiden or Leppard, and kind of getting bummed out by a lot of supposedly “better” (or let’s just say more artistically pretentious) metal I started listening to during my late 20s and early 30s.

    • Well a lot of those early bands you list are timeless metal acts. You can always go home to them!

      • eloli

        When I was a kid, they were considered mostly a stupid fad, teenybopper music, not that different from nü metal’s current perception.
        Time has a knack for legitimizing everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if in half a decade or so, lots of nü metal bands that nowadays are considered an embarrassment will be praised by critics for “their artistry on blending ethnically opposite music worlds”, or some crap like that. I mean, back in it’s heyday, Sabbath, Zeppelin and Purple were lambasted by critics, and now they’re considered important and stuff by those same critics.
        Anyhow, since I never had any metal cred whatsoever or ever aspire to have it, I’m gonna say it right now:
        Chaos AD and Roots are the only Sepultura records that matter. Yup, BTR and Arise might be thrash masterpieces, but there were hundreds of bands sounding exactly the same (believe me, I lived through it), those two albums were original game changers.
        Also, fuck Vio-lence, their singer was really annoying, thank goodness Rob Flynn ditched that guy and formed Machine Head, and while we’re at it, who cares about the losers in Exhorder, whatever they were doing first, Pantera did it much better.

        • André Snyde Lopes

          When bands cite Sepultura as an influence, they usually cite BTR and Arise, maybe Chaos AD but certainly not Roots.

          Time tends to legitimize good stuff but a lot of good or even better stuff is forgotten along the way. It’s whatever you enjoy that matters, not the fact that it’s popular. I like Pantera better than Exhorder but I can’t say I like Machine Head better than Vio-lence. I couldn’t give a fuck if MH is more popular or influential or unique than Vio-lence. What is good or not is solely dependant on YOU, not the critics or the impact or popularity or even mass consensus, though these might have some value-measuring capabilities of their own.

          Also, regarding your point in an earlier post, I don’t think the world needs more Mastodon’s. Neither does it need more DsO’s. You can enjoy both and personally; I get my “music high” just as well from listening to Mastodon’s Oblivion as I do DsO’s A Chore for the Lost.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I’m not a gambling man but I would happily wager that Limp Biscuit, Korn or Slip Knot will never, ever, ever even be remotely considered in the same way Zep, Purple or Sabbath are.

          They was a fad and the acts were low on substance and high on lame gimmicky marketing.

          Time will not be kind to Nu Metal.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      My point was more that records like Powerslave, SSoaSS, Piece of Mind, etc. stand up to scrutiny after you’ve gained more knowledge and experience and understand more about the genre, whereas most deathcore, a big chunk of metalcore, nu-metal, etc. would not.

      It’s like Karl Popper’s critique of Hegel’s “Rechtphilosophie”; it makes sense at face value, is written passionately and understandably, and is generally a solid and engaging read. But upon reading Hegel yourself, and then far better critiques and companions to his work, Popper’s critique becomes borderline nonsensical. In that way, you could never go home again to a time when his interpretation made sense and was convincing, but it can still be read nostalgically or for entertainment via the sake of reading.

      It’s the same thing for gateway bands like Ektomorf, and what I was getting at in the part you mentioned. Knowing little about metal at the time when I really liked this stuff, it made sense: it was heavy, catchy, and structured like the rock songs I was familiar with. It made sense in a way. Now, knowing far more about metal having heard many of the great things the genre has to offer, stuff like this doesn’t hold up to scrutiny as it once did. I think that’s great, because you can have the best of both worlds: a stricter filter on quality, but still enjoyment of the nostalgic things for what they are. Such is the case here, and why I couldn’t enjoy it as great metal.

      • eloli

        Well, we’re off to a very bad start, since SSOASS, back in the day, was the album that made me kind of give on Maiden and make thrash my headbanging choice. :D

        Although I get your Popper analogy, I find it has a very weak point in that philosophical critique is (or at least should be) and intellectual pursuit based on rational argumentation, while music, while it can be approached as an intellectual pursuit, it’s mostly about how a particular piece makes the listener feel, and that has nothing to do with rationality.

        If you approach music rationally, I guess some bands are “technically” better than others, since, I dunno, they have better production, play more complicated stuff, use a broader tone palette or have more intellectual lyrics, but personally, I find this approach completely pointless: at the end of the day, whether I like a particular album or not depends on whether it makes me wanna shout, sing along, tap my feet, dance or jump around.

        For example, every time I listen to Twisted Sister’s I wanna rock, for example, I get this irresistible urge to raise my fist and shout rock! along the chorus, that’s why I never play it in the car, btw. :D

        IMO, this simple song is better than about 95% metal in my collection, simply because it elicits an emotional response every time on a lot of people.

        True, a lot of people might say that this is “lowest common denominator crap”, but, as I can attest from trying to earn a living as a commercial jingle writer in my mid 20s, writing this “lowest common denominator crap” is a lot harder than writing epic prog metal songs about the Illyad, which I did during my early 20s, when I wasn’t that worried about making a living. :D

        Personally, I think beyond technical stuff, truly powerful music has to elicit a strong musical response on listeners, and that’s what attracted me to metal in the first place, virtuosity, lifestyle or musical inventiveness, that came much, much later.

        • Martin Knap

          “while music, while it can be approached as an intellectual pursuit, it’s mostly about how a particular piece makes the listener feel…” that’s the case with popular music, classical music is supposed to be ‘dialogical’, or so they say…

          • eloli

            Well, if she were alive, my grandma, who was a concert pianist, would beg to differ with that. :D

          • Martin Knap

            but if she wouldn’t be trained in music the music would probably not elicit the same emotions in her…

          • Some interesting arguments here, but I stopped paying attention when someone said they wouldn’t put SSoaSS in their Maiden Top Five.

            I’ll be back later to read properly when I’ve calmed down. You’ll still be wrong however. :P

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          I wouldn’t put SSoaSS at the top of my Iron Maiden list either (Top Ten but not Top Five), but to my ears it’s still a very, very good record with some really great songs on it, and as such holds up today. As for the rational approach described above, unless one of those aspects is so lacking that it makes the music impossible to enjoy, those are pretty superficial elements and at absolute most may make a half a point’s difference on my rating of a record if I were to review it for AMG.

          On the other hand, I’d think a rational analysis of music would involve the structure of the songs and the record as a whole along with its relation to the genre and its history. That was more my point with the Popper analogy, meaning that once you hear things that are organized much better with more memorable riffs and has a clear but not entirely derivative lineage, what you would’ve found very good or great at the beginning of your journey will be maybe fun but largely unimpressive once the road becomes more traveled.

          I think you’re spot on with it being easier to write needlessly complex prog monstrosities than a great simple tune, much like it’s easy to explain Hegel (to continue the analogy) in Hegelian terms but much more difficult to put it in more everyday language. In both cases, the latter “gets it” more than the former. But, like Popper, not everything easy to read is great, or even terribly good. Writing something truly memorable is a real feat, but writing something simple is not; I’ve forgotten nearly every riff on this record except some in “Evil By Nature”, so I’d be completely opposed to calling “Holocaust” better than most metal out there. But ‘Cause of Death’ isn’t a tech-death masterpiece by any stretch and I can recall every riff from that monster, so your point still holds.

          I don’t know if it was you who mentioned Nietzsche a few times in the comments section here, but the way I see it great music isn’t just the Dionysian (the really catchy/primal/dancing/foot-tapping aspect), but the Dionysian with the Apollonian (coherent structure, a meaningful link to established traditions, etc.) as “tragic art” was in The Birth of Tragedy. That’s why great music is so hard to come by in my mind, and why records like, say, Kjeld’s “Skym” or Visigoth’s “The Revenant King” have such staying power for me.

          • eloli

            No, I wasn’t the one who mentioned Nietzche, but I’m pretty familiar with the Dionysian vs Apollonian dichotomy. I’m obviously a total Dionyisian, when it comes to music.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            You’re kinda preaching to the choir about DsO and BAN (not a fan of either, save for DsO’s “Drought” EP which was pretty cool), and MGLA just has some silly lyrics; the music is quite good on Exercises in Futility though.

            Metal needs more great metal, records that will be spoken about 30 years from now. I don’t think we’ve seen a whole lot of those in recent times.

          • Hideous destructor

            Which Maiden song is that then? I’d think, off the top of my head that the wicker man, the fallen angel, rainmaker and death or glory fit that description.

          • eloli

            The Wicker Man, of course, IMO, the only song the band has recorded in the last 25 years that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind or Powerslave.

      • Martijn Brugman

        So Ektomorf’s Agressor is to Powerslave as Popper’s critique is to Hegel’s original work? That’s a type of comparison I did not see coming. Even here. Is this Angry Metal Philosophy?

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Let’s hope that it isn’t…I just couldn’t think of a better analogy.

  • brutal_sushi

    These guys would be just be really fun to pit around too. A good night of pitting and drinking with these guys, then tomorrow you can continue on with deeper more complex musical outings.

  • This is one of those things that, judging from the horrible horrible name, I’m pretty sure I can skip.
    –Judging books by their covers since 1983–

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I am surprised at how long Ektomorf has kept going, taking into account that they are basically a cut-rate version of a cut-rate band.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      It’s good festival music, I’d think.


    Ektomorf is crap and it’ll always be.

  • Martijn Brugman

    Somebody should tell miniMax that wearing your own band shirt is a metal faux pas. Nevertheless, the songs has a nice vibe to it.

  • Name’s Dalton

    I knew straightaway this band wasn’t for me. I’m a mesomorph.

    • You wot m8?

      What a coincidence! I’m a xenomorph!

  • Pablo Casado Gañarul

    (Just kidding, this is the kind of thread that makes me come back at AMG every day even I could not care less about the album reviewed… That and the reviews :D )

    • madhare

      Exactly. This is pretty typical of AMG. The band is meh, the album is meh, even the reviewer is feeling meh making the review read a bit meh. But then once we get through the review, the real fun starts. :D

      • Pablo Casado Gañarul

        What I´m going to say is totally (I don´t know how to say it in english, so apologies in advance) a “ME” thing but I´ll say it anyway:
        Doing reviews myself, I find VERY interesting to read a reviewer when I know for sure that he couldn´t care less about the album/book/whatever and even when I´m not sure, and that whatever is not a product for everyone, I´m interested because it´s very hard to pull a review if you don´t give a flying fuck (we don´t say “jodienda voladora”, we´ve learned this kind of expressions with the HBO; thanks globalization and Interwebs). That doesn´t happen here.
        What I´m trying to say (because I don´t trust my english talking about these things) is that I enjoy AMG because I know that the reviews are fun because everyone here enjoys writing about metal, and I´m sure that there was (and will be) times in front of a blank page that made think the reviewer “DUDE, FUCK THIS ALBUM” but he managed to pull an honest review in an honest site that I discovered recently and made me rejoined with my metal side.

        OR SOMETHING.Put some unicorns and puke rainbows here if you wish.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Thanks for reading, commenting, and sticking around! The little community we have here keeps things fresh, interesting, and a big part of why myself and everyone else love writing here. Cheers!

  • Wilhelm

    Warning – If you attempt to buy this and do not own a pair of camo shorts and an Adidas jumper, you will throw the entire Earth off balance.

  • Oh, that promo picture…