LABEL FOCUS: EKTRO (WITH PLAIN RIDE, RANGER, BEGRAVNINGSENTREPRENÖRERNA, SHAVED WOMEN, AND CIRCLE)
Here’s how this post came about: I listen to Soundcloud every day, following links in our emails or ones I see on Facebook. Usually they’re advance tracks from new albums, and I’m trying to decide whether to write about them. Yesterday I listened to one solely because the band had the longest one-word name I’d ever seen.
When a song finishes on Soundcloud, another one generally starts playing, whether you want it to or not. That also happened yesterday, and it drew me into other bands on the same label as the first one — Finland’s Ektro Records. I’ve written about that label’s releases in the past, but infrequently.
So I had the impulsive idea of writing about a group of songs from recent Ektro releases that I found on Soundcloud. And I decided to do the same thing tomorrow, focusing on another label with which I’m even less familiar.
In the past I’ve found Ektro’s releases very interesting, though a high percentage of them aren’t straight down the metal fairway. The ones you’re about to hear aren’t either. But they’re not down the middle of any fairway — which is why I’m digging them.
The first offering is by a Helsinki band named Plain Ride (pictured above). The song is the least metal in this post, but man, I think it’s my favorite. I can’t improve on the description in the press release I found that we had received, because the words are so ingenious and so true: “This is a blues album created with a Mindset of a West African proto-doom band, made in Finland 2014.”
The name of the song is “Suuri Vesi”. Like other songs in this post, it appeals to me in part because the words aren’t in English. Something about the sound of the Finnish language to the ears of a native English speaker makes the music more metal — a phenomenon no Finn can completely understand.
The song appears on an album named Skeleton Rites, which will be released on May 16. It does indeed combine a kind of American mountain folk music with looping African rhythms, bluesy melody, and fuzzed chords in a way that’s mesmerizing. The instrumental performances are excellent and Janne Westerlund’s gritty, scratchy vocals are great.
Ranger made a truckload of Best of 2013 lists I saw last year with their EP Knights of Darkness. I hadn’t heard of them before they started appearing on a lot of the guest lists we posted here, and in lists assembled by all sorts of other places that weren’t wedded to the usual suspects. They now have a new 7″ two-song single on the Ektro label named Shock Skull, and Soundcloud has the title track, which is a fucking home-run song name, and a damned good tune, too.
This is throwback 80s speed metal with megawatt voltage and nasty high-pitched vocals. The riffs are very fuckin’ catchy and the soloing is smokin’ hot. Let’s get wasted and bust up the joint, shall we?
Yeah, this is the band with the longest one-word name I’ve ever seen. No, I haven’t put it through Google Translate to find out what it means, because I’m afraid that would spoil the magic. Their debut release is a self-titled EP boasting three songs. The one on Ektro’s Soundcloud is “Anden / Flaskan”, and I haven’t processed that through Google Translate either.
The song is a raucous, rolling, hard-rocking number played loud and raw. Really good vocals, infectious energy, and always right on the edge of self-immolation or a blackout drunk. They pull out all the stops by the end.
There’s not one shaved woman in this band, which makes their choice of name either brilliantly inspired or crack-headed, depending on your perspective (I’m in the former camp). Ektro is releasing a Shaved Women EP named Just Death in August. Unlike every other band in this post, Shaved Women aren’t from Finland; they’re from St. Louis, Missouri.
Whoever is writing the ad copy for Ektro knows how to turn a phrase:
Giving maladjusted hope to aspiring psychopaths everywhere, this fat slab is full of tasty jams. The distorted, buzz saw riffs make you want to carry around a knife, not a switchblade. The John Bonham meets the Incredible Hulk drums make you want to start a fight with a wall until you have less bones. The vocals drill into your head and convince you that they only way out is to slam through the ground tearing all of your friends’ designer blouses while falling through the wormhole. Simply put, this sounds like the tension of blood boiling after a car accident…if it was catchy.
Okay, I admit I corrected a few typos in the original, but still, that was a shitload of fun to read. And there’s more of that genius, but I thought I ought to get off my lazy ass and write a few words of my own.
The song I listened to on Soundcloud is named “Paranoia”. It flies by fast, fueled by punk gasoline and skinned-raw vocals, and still has all the time it needs to kick your teeth in.
There is apparently a short film out there named Six Day Run. All I know about it is this description:
“A short film about one of the most extreme individual endurance sports dating back to to the 1870s. The competitors run with minimal sleep, all the while trying to accumulate as many miles as possible on a one-mile paved loop in a park. The film was shot during The Self-Transcendence Six Day Race in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens, New York City between April 22-28, 2012.”
To a non-aerobic person such as myself, this sounds like medieval torture. However, the soundtrack to the film does not. It was created by a band named Circle, and the soundtrack is another Ektro release. The song I heard on Soundcloud is named “Day Four”.
I would be in the ICU by Day Four if I had attempted this race, but the song (which is entirely instrumental) leaves me smiling. Like the race, it’s built on a loop — a highly infectious looping rhythm and guitar riff that become the anchor for reverberating arpeggios and chords and an undercurrent of distortion. Very cool.
I can tell you what the name and song title means and I don’t think you’d be disappointed since it involves death 🙂
Begravningsentrepenörerna = The undertakers.
Anden i flaskan = Genie in the bottle.
Maybe not so impressive, but it’s better than “Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss Of Hyperspace”
Thank you! To be more precise, thank you for the translation. I could have done without “Bodacious Space Pirates” and the photo of Yngwie Malmsteen.
Plain Ride is a nice deviation from teh br00tz, as is that name I really don’t have the motivation to type.
Copy-paste. That’s the answer.
Ranger is pretty awesome 🙂
Come on man, one of those year end list he was talking about was mine
…and we all know the one rule of No Clean Singing is always trust my music taste 🙂
Hasn’t led me astray yet.
I’ve had Circle’s “Incarnation” for a while and it is BRUTAL. Absolutely nothing like the track posted here–and for good reason. See this excerpt from Metal Archives. Interesting. Regardless, I highly recommend “Incarnation.”
“In 2013, they released a death metal album titled “Incarnation.” For all intents and purposes, this release was deliberately “outsourced” and recorded by a completely different lineup (Tommi Sookari, Markus Hietamies, Rami Simelius, Ville Valavuo and Jussi Rajala), while the original musicians put out an AOR album under the moniker Falcon (ex-Circle). Nevertheless, “Incarnation” is presented as an official Circle release.”