This band was really impressed me with their music. Once I've listened to the debut album from Ectovoid, I knew it's going to be one go the best death metal releases of this year and I sincerely have doubt that if you're into the old school stuff then you just must purchase “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss”!!!!!! Read my reviews of the demo and this album, to get more information, meanwhile I also have prepared this interview with Chris McDonald. Killer band!
“Sweet Home Alabama” – a certain grindcore band called Napalm Death… oh no, that was Lynyrd Skynyrd (hehe) used to sign back in the 70’s. Would you mind to start this interview by telling me something about the place you live? What’s Alabama like? You know, everyone will know a bit about California, Florida or even Alaska, but some states like Alabama are not so well known. So, what’s the living there like? What are the most significant things I should know about Alabama?
We've all lived in Alabama our entire lives, so it is home to us. We all like it here and there are good things and bad things just like any location. The weather is usually good, with pretty mild temperatures overall, and the areas in which we live are pretty safe and uncrowded. There's plenty of nice scenery and wild areas, which suits us well. There's not a lot of other significant things about it that I could mention to you, though.
I actually know that Alabama is one of the most religious states in the US, located in the so called bible belt. I must say that this reminds those damn preachers, who make some religious shows, fooling people with the so called miracles and prayers, of course in exchange for shit load of money… Could you say that Alabama really is so religious and maybe also conservative?
Yeah, Alabama is definitely a very religious and conservative state as a whole. We don't really care, and it doesn't affect us much in any way. We don't have any angry zealots out picketing our shows or anything.
Do you think that the place of living influence the bands and their music? For instance the bands, which are coming from the frosty Scandinavia would usually play cold, misanthropic music, while there’s certain rawness and primitiveness which bands from South America share, maybe due to the conditions of living there. What’s your opinion?
I think it depends both on the location and the style of music being played. There's no doubt that certain styles and eras of music are influenced both by the location of the musicians and the history and culture that goes with that location. For instance, a lot of black metal bands in Scandinavia are clearly influenced by their ancient cultures and by the landscapes and scenery where they live.
Do you think that the same can be said about Ectovoid, that your place of living could influence you, maybe not necessarily Alabama as a state, but maybe the metal scene in there? Tell something more about it, about some cool bands from Alabama, if there are any worth checking and you’re in good contact with. I personally know and like Grave Ritual a lot, but maybe there are some more cool bands, which I don’t even know are from Alabama?
No, we definitely aren't influenced by our location or the scene here. I imagine we'd be making the same kind of music no matter where we lived. The scene is very small in Alabama, and while there's lots of good and dedicated people around, we don't feel we have much in common with many other bands here. We are good friends with a black metal band called Vulkodlak, who just released their first demo, which is killer. We are friends with the guys in Grave Ritual as well, and they are a great death metal band. I actually used to play drums with them for a while, back when they were known as Meathole Infection. Beyond that there's not many bands in our state that I'd recommend, but there's several great up and coming bands in the Atlanta, Georgia area, which is about two hours from us. These include Living Decay, Mangled, Disfigurement, and Sadistic Ritual.
Man, you must have forgotten about Chaos Inception, they’re absolutely amazing band! I’m quite surprised to see such young fellows playing this sort of obscure, morbid death metal. You know, most of the youth nowadays prefer more popular styles, while your music is deeply rooted in the old school death metal and bands like Incantation, Immolation, Goreaphobia… How did your interest in the old school death metal start? What appeals to you most in such sounds and which bands are the most influential for you? Quite often the reviewers mention the old Finnish death metal scene, bands like Demilich, Convulse, Purtenance, Demigod and I sincerely agree that some traces of their obscure sounds could be found in Ectovoid’s music as well.
It's just something that we've always enjoyed and connected with. We all listen to a lot of different kinds of music, metal or otherwise, but classic death and black metal is something that we've always had in common, and the more well known bands in these styles were some of the first that we heard. We are definitely big fans of Immolation, Gorguts, Autopsy, Incantation, The Chasm, Death, and many others. We really enjoy bands in the Finnish scene like you mentioned as well, especially Demilich, Rippikoulou, and Demigod.
Finally I need to ask also how did it all happen or what pushed you to begin a band like Ectovoid? What aims do you see for yourselves? Tell me also, and I hope this question won’t be asked in every damn interview you answer, what does the band moniker stand for?
The three of us had already been playing music together in various projects for around five years when we decided to form Ectovoid. We just wanted to start a serious band that we would really concentrate on and take to a level higher than anything we had done before, as well as explore musical styles we hadn't yet delved into. Right now our goals are just to keep writing the music that inspires us, releasing albums, playing bigger shows, and see where it all takes us.
In terms of the name, the suffix "ecto-" means "outer" or "outside," so the name translates to "outer void" or "outer space." Naturally, this name is very much related to our sound and lyrical themes.
I got your first demo from you recently. I must say that you impressed me with one thing more than with anything else. I mean, you spread the demo to everyone, who just asks for it, even give it for free, what is really cool, especially as many bands nowadays prefer to limit their demo material to some criminal numbers like 100 copies of something like that, which is stupid I think. Tell me something more about that and how many copies of the demo did you manage to spread until now? What purposes did you have for the demo and do you fill they’ve all been achieved, once you have also the full length album releases?
Our intention for the demo was just to establish the band officially and cement our intentions regarding themes and style. We wanted to offer the demo for free for this very reason, plus we recorded it ourselves and it didn't really cost us anything to produce, so we didn't feel the need to charge anything for it. We didn't even really send it to any labels, but we mailed out around 100 CD-Rs to people around the world who requested it, and the demo has been downloaded several thousand times as well. So there was a pretty solid demand for it, considering we were a new and unknown band. We definitely accomplished what we set out to do with it.
Is “Breathing Blackness” the way of how you got in contact with Hellthrasher Productions? I’m quite curious how it all went, as the band was only just formed in 2010! And you prepared the material for the full length album pretty quickly! Did you expect that the things will go so quickly or were rather ready to record more demos, if there wasn’t any interest from the labels?
Not exactly. We had already recorded the album when we started talking to Hellthrasher Productions. We posted a preview song online for people to hear and they contacted us and said they were interested in releasing it. Yes, we were a little surprised that everything happened so quickly and very pleased to say the least. We worked hard on writing and recording the material and it's great that it paid off and that things are moving along at a good pace now.
So, tell me how does it feel like to record such a killer album as “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss”? I’ve been truly astonished by those sounds and as far as I’ve noticed among other reviewers, this album do not leave maniacs careless about your music! You must feel truly proud and satisfied with the results?
Thanks very much for the compliment. Yes, it is very satisfying to have recorded and released this album and we are very proud of it. We are pleased and inspired by the positive response that it's already gotten. I think a lot of people out there understand and appreciate what we are doing. We look forward to hearing more reactions, good and bad, as we become a better known band.
Tell me who’s responsible for those gigantic, awesome riffs on “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss”? How did the songwriting process look like? Was it a contribution of the whole band or it’s one of you, who’s mainly responsible for everything? And tell me, what aims did you put before yourselves when composing this album and then while recording it and did you accomplish everything what was planned? I mean the music is equally brutal and heavy as it is atmospheric, eerie and sinister. Did you aim to combine these two elements together or this is just plain accident?
Our bass player and vocalist C.B. is responsible for writing the lion's share of the riffs in the band, which he usually writes on guitar. He is an extremely talented and motivated songwriter and is constantly coming up with new stuff for us to work on. I started playing the guitar last year and I have started contributing some riffs and ideas to the band as well, but C.B. wrote almost everything on our first album. We are all very involved in putting the finished songs together, however. I generally play a big part in determining the final song structures, and our guitarist M.S. adds his own touches in the form of harmonies, variations, and leads. I wrote all of the lyrics on the album except for two songs, which were penned by C.B.
In terms of plans for our sound, we just write what comes to us naturally and what sounds good to us, and what we feel fits well with our vision for Ectovoid. We try and write music that is dark and atmospheric while remaining very riff-based, energetic, and memorable. I think we accomplished this quite well on the album, but we obviously have lots of room to grow and evolve.
You’ve read my review, so I’m not going to repeat myself, but really the riffs, the atmosphere, ghoulish vocals and finally also this thick powerful production – all these things are top notch in my opinion. But try to review this album yourself, staying as objective as it’s possible, what you would write about “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” if it came from different band?
Thanks again for the kind words. We are all quite satisfied with the finished results, but of course there's always things you wish you could go back and change. It's interesting to hear so many compliments on the production, because we definitely think that the production could be better, but that's probably partly due to the fact that it's hard for us to take a more distant look at our own work. This was our first time recording in a proper studio, as well as our first time recording this much material at once, so we definitely learned some things to keep in mind for the next recording.
Of course I am a tad biased, but I obviously like the music that we make very much, and I think we executed it well on the album. So if it was by a different band, I'd definitely listen to it.
Does “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” introduce a sort of a concept? I ask about it even though I haven’t read the lyrics, but I just have this feeling like the awesome cover artwork plus such titles as “Dark Clouds of Consciousness”, “Murmurs from Beyond” or “Locked in Dismal Gaze” have quite a lot in common. Please tell me something more about them, if that’s OK for you!
It's not a "concept album" if that's what you mean, but we definitely have certain lyrical themes and inspirations that we focus on. Our songs generally deal with afflictions and suffering of the mind and soul, existence in various forms before and after death, consciousness inside and outside of the body, and imagery involving space and the cosmos. These are all concepts that we find both interesting and frightening, and are well-suited to our musical style.
You said about the existence in various forms before and after death. Tell me what do you think about such ideas as heaven and hell or reincarnation? Is there anything after death, in your belief? Also I wonder what do you think of the signs of the ghost existence? Do you believe that they may be haunting some places? And also that people, who call themselves as Mediums can actually contact the deceased? Or maybe these are all just mind tricks and people, who fool the others?
Well, I definitely don't believe in heaven and hell. Those are pretty ridiculous ideas, in my view, as moral codes aren't universal concepts. And I don't believe in reincarnation in the way that most world religions do - that is, that our morals and deeds from past lives influence our circumstances in future lives, or that we can meet the same people in different lifetimes, etc. I believe that consciousness is an eternal phenomenon without a beginning and end that manifests itself in the physical universe, and that birth and death merely marks the beginning and end of one particular manifestation of this larger consciousness - in this case, a human being. When the human organism expires, consciousness moves on to manifest in a new form. To go into more detail would take too much time, but these ideas are a large part of the lyrical themes of Ectovoid.
We all have different beliefs regarding ghosts. Personally, I don't think that people's souls come back to earth and try to torment or frighten living human beings - that seems pretty stupid to me. And I don't think people can contact or communicate with the deceased either. I believe that corporeal and ethereal beings reside on different planes of existence, completely out of contact with one another. Of course, people will always take advantage of the fears and superstitions of others to gain fame or wealth, if they can find people who will listen to and believe them.
But I guess every place has some ghost stories or places, which are supposed to be haunted. Any favourite ones from your local area?
I personally don't know of any haunted houses in our area. I would be interested in going to one though, if only for my amusement. Suffice to say, I'm very cynical about things like that.
Do you think that people still read and care about the lyrics of the bands? I’m asking this, as nowadays many, many people (and I deliberately won’t call them fans) just suck the cocks of mp3, do not collect records anymore and are just fine having the soulless music files. In that case they don’t probably care about the fancy artworks and probably also about the lyrics… But personally I always like the bands, which still care a lot about every detail of their records, because there are some maniacs like myself, who still love to collect records, read the lyrics etc. What’s your opinion on this?
I think there are definitely plenty of people who still care about lyrics and artwork, especially in the metal scene. In fact, I think metal has more fans that are into collecting the physical product than most other styles of music do these days. We know there are plenty of people who will download our music and not pay for it, but we don't care. We certainly aren't doing this for the money, and there are more than enough people still buying albums to make pressing them worthwhile. We take every aspect of our releases seriously, from the artwork to the lyrics to the layout and design.
“Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” is going to be released on vinyl format soon. This is great news for me, as I really would love to have it on LP rather than CD. Tell me something more about the Blood Harvest version of the album, will it have some extras like bonus tracks, more detailed artwork or poster or something like that?
Yes, we are very excited about the vinyl release, especially considering Blood Harvest has released numerous albums that we all listen to regularly. The vinyl version will be basically the same as the CD though, in terms of looks and content.
Ectovoid is yet another great US death metal band, which I liked a lot and which belongs to the new generation of old styled bands. I wonder if you know bands like Encoffination, Skeletal Spectre, Horrendous, Father Befouled, Disma, Vasaeleth, Coffin Texts, to mention just these few? What do you think of their music? Maybe you’ve got also some more favourite bands of the present?
Yes, we are familiar with all of those bands. We particularly enjoy Coffin Texts, Disma, and Vasaeleth. In terms of other modern death metal bands, we listen to a lot of Necrovation, Pseudogod, Dead Congregation, Ignivomous, and Grave Miasma, to name a few. We also love black metal bands like Inquisition, Sargeist, Taake, and The Ruins of Beverast, among many others.
I know that you write reviews for one of the webzines. Tell me what is harder for you - to write the music or write about the music? What is your attitude towards the reviewed material usually - do you pick every detail of it, including every technical aspect of the music or simply write what do you like or not about the album?
Yes, I have written for MetalReview.com for around five years now and have written over two hundred reviews for the site, as well as several other features. That is definitely an interesting question that you ask. Obviously, writing music and music journalism are completely different art forms, each with their own rewards and challenges. I couldn't really compare one to the other in that sense. When you write music you are creating something entirely new, while reviewing music involves expressing your reaction to something that already exists.
When I review albums, I try and zoom in on individual details, such as production quality and musicianship, as well as give my perspectives on my overall reaction to the music. Sometimes these things may not be in complete congruence with one another. For example, I could admit that an album has mediocre sound while still enjoying its affect on the songs.
When doing the reviews you obviously must have heard a lot of new bands and albums, tell me then which were the ones, which caught your attention most? Is there something what would you recommend to my readers?
In the last year or so I've given high scores to the albums "Deathwomb Catechesis" by Pseudogod, "Curse" by Wodensthrone, and "III" by Aosoth, all of which I would highly recommend to any fans of epic black and death metal.
OK, reveal to us the nearest plans of Ectovoid, maybe for some 7”EPs or something and finish this interview with few words of wisdom! Thanks for your answers, taka care!
We don't have any new releases planned right now, but we are already working on material for our second full-length, which is going well. Also, the "Breathing Blackness" demo will soon be repressed on pro-printed cassette with new artwork by Unholy Domain Records, which should be great. Beyond that, our plans are to keep promoting the album, work on new material for the next record, and try and get some good shows set up. Thanks very much for the great interview, we appreciate the support!