Album Review: Ectoplasma – Inferna Kabbalah

Album Review: Ectoplasma - Inferna Kabbalah
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Its been some time since I reviewed an Ectoplasma record. When I first started reviewing heavy metal records, Ectoplasma’s debut album was amongst the first Underground material I reviewed so its nice to return to Ectoplasma once again. Formed in 2012 out of Attica, Greece, Ectoplasma released their first Demo in 2014 before following up with their debut record Spitting Coffins come 2016. Since then the band have accumulated a pretty steady stream of released material that only continues to work and build upon what their fans have been exposed to beforehand. Now, with 2022 dawning the band are prepped not only to give us their fourth full length release but also a celebration of their 10th anniversary together as a band. People have been continuously quite positive regarding Ectoplasma’s recent slew of death metal and as a result, I was also very keen to get stuck in with this record. This is Inferna Kabbalah, a work of Greek death metal

I liked how the bass drums have been mixed into the album, in fact the same can be said for the drums on the whole. They feel like they’ve been positioned at this midway point between the riffs and vocals. As a result what we’ve got is a drumming performance that doesn’t try and grab us by the throat and just throttle us for the full record’s duration, instead it makes sure we’re comfortable and are capable at taking in all that it’s got. The bass drums are crisply pronounced as are the cymbals, whose eclectic crashing you’ll be able to pick up on with ease and the Tom-toms too which create a sound that’s excellently balanced between wanting a crushing soundscape and something that’s easily inviting for the audience to get stuck in with. I believe it’s this ease of listening that most struck me when I first heard the drums, Ectoplasma have been at this a small while now but it’s nice to acknowledge how they’ll still shake things up from time to time. I feel like people could put this album on quite easily without the trepidation that they’re just going to get a ruthless wall of sound from start to finish.

But that crisp aesthetic the drums give us feels like a general motif with this record. If you’re paying attention to the guitar work, the band have in fact configured their production in such a way that they’re able to give us the crushing, sonic battlefield you’d want from such a record without the soundscape feeling like it’s demanding a part of your physical strength in order to maintain its ferocity. There are numerous moments where one guitar may give you a tapping sequence while another is providing the more traditionally slab-heavy riffs you usually expect from a band like Ectoplasma e.g. “Appalling Abomination”. What’s more is how I was able to equally enjoy the two unique styles of riffs without the production hampering my enjoyment of them nor did the record’s production seem to sour or drown out what the instrumentation wanted me to observe. There’s a particular attention to clarity here, it’s evident the band didn’t want to bog us down in the mire of crushing soundscapes too greatly. They still want us to enjoy their music which, odd as it sounds to say, is always the prerogative for a death metal band. If anyone doesn’t like super dense soundscapes, Inferna Kabbalah is a refreshing change.

Album Review: Ectoplasma – Inferna Kabbalah

The general momentum of this album is one that is always on the go, but it never feels like it’s trying to outpace us in any respect. Ectoplasma truly do play old school death metal, their approach to songwriting and speed is one that really allows the audience to feel the weight and power their falling riffs are able to imbue their sound with. This isn’t another speedfest, the band really do allow you to breathe throughout the record’s duration but what’s more is how stretched out their riffs feel, the band don’t just throw one riff at you and claim it done. They might have a riff or vocal section in mind for you but they’ll twist and turn it for a fair amount before moving on to the next segment of their performance. As a result the band have enabled us to really stew amidst the carnage of their sonic assault without it feeling like they’re just giving us glancing blows. Each track hits with just as much clenched and vigorous force as you’d want, preferring power and impact over quick dashing and slashes instrumentally speaking.

I think the vocals are so effective here because they’re backdropped against everything else that we’ve so far raised in our inspection of this record. The album overall is certainly an aggressive beast however it’s one that has been nicely refined and attuned so that it’s smaller intricacies aren’t lost on us; you’re able to experience every crashing riff that falls atop us but can still take in how the songwriting shapes our enjoyment of Inferna Kabbalah. The vocal performance you get here you’ve heard a hundred, perhaps a thousand times but it’s because of how it stands against the crisp and well structured instrumentation that you can make out the real severity of the vocals. The band’s general soundscape isn’t as harsh as the vocals so whatever performance you get there naturally feels heightened and more piercing than if the band’s collective presence was much more devastating. It’s that unusual instance whereby a band’s lax approach to production and mixing actually provides advantages to an otherwise unchanged vocal performance fans have heard before in prior records.

In conclusion, this is a remarkably refreshing album to listen to. You’re not going to hear anything here you’ve never otherwise heard before however I really liked how the band composed their sound here where it isn’t some ultra dense slab of atmosphere you feel you need to get through. The pleasant juxtaposition demonstrated by the vocals set against the clear riffs and production works really well in the band’s favour as its akin to staring through the depths of a river that’s frozen over; you can feel and see the crisp nature of this record all the while able to fully make out the brutal weight the band throw at you without the mass that usually comes along with it. Since the album has been mixed and crafted in this way, Ectoplasma give us something that fans of OSDM will fearsomely enjoy and may even find nicely different: a death metal record that requires no special effort on your part to sit back and listen to. I’ve been following Ectoplasma for a few years now ever since their debut record and they really have come leaps and bounds. I’m very excited for what they may do next.

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