Jun 292023

(Andy Synn travels back to early May to heap praise upon the debut album from Australia’s Ekosa)

Although I do sometimes miss writing for print (despite everything that happened I did genuinely enjoy my time writing for Terrorizer back in the day) I must admit… the sheer freedom afforded to me here at NCS is something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Case in point, the debut album from Progressive/”Post-” Death Metal quintet Ekosa was released at the beginning of May, but I only discovered it a week or so ago.

Anywhere else, anywhere that focusses more on hard deadlines and keeping on top of the endless release schedule, and we’d probably have missed out on writing about it – but while we do love getting a good scoop now and then, there’s no insistence that we only write about up-and-coming albums, which means I’m free to tell you how much I enjoy Eye for I even though I’m coming late to the party.

Musically-speaking, Ekosa‘s sound lands somewhere between Wake‘s post-Grindcore, “Atmospheric” Death Metal era and the powerful Prog-Death of mid-period Allegaeon, and while they aren’t quite at the same level as either of those bands just yet – this is, after all, their first full-length album – the potential is clearly there for all to see hear.

Indeed, the band’s potential is immediately apparent on appropriately… ahem… visceral opener “Visceral”, which cleverly and cleanly combines some impressively dense riffage and imposing dynamics, all underpinned with some nimble, nuanced bass-work and punchy, proggy percussion, into an instantly-memorable piece of forward-thinking, yet still pleasingly familiar, Death Metal that should stick with you long after Eye for I has finished spinning.

And it’s to the band’s credit that this same level of quality is largely maintained across the rest of the album too, with the more “Post-(Death) Metal” leaning “Between Our Steps and the End” and the more ferocious, Ageless Oblivion-esque “Murder of the Hero” providing a glimpse at two different, but equally possible, paths for the group to explore in the future.

But it’s the back-end of the album which, arguably, holds the most promise for a group just setting out on their musical journey, as both the eight minute “Apoptosis” and the equally immense title track strike such a brilliant balance between atmospheric extremity and progressive extravagance – each track making full use of its extended run-time to allow each and every element of the band’s sound that little bit more time to breathe and stretch and flex its muscles – that, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to find yourself hoping that Ekosa are able to capitalise on their success here sooner rather than later.

Sure, there’s still a sense that the band aren’t quite the “finished article” just yet – while the more ambient embellishments of “The Masquerade Reality” and “Splitting of the Spirit” definitely demonstrate their willingness to think a little outside of the box, it feels like a more experienced group would have integrated them into the preceding tracks (the former would have added a whole new dimension to the already captivating opener, while the latter could, the way I see it, have been seamlessly integrated into “Avidyā” with very little effort) – but that’s something for the future, something which hopefully the band will build on next time around.

And I, for one, can’t wait.

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