And, really, it’s about what I expected from the band. I didn’t get to sit down and check out the whole album, but what I did hear was enjoyable in a bit of a standard Groove Metal sense, but there were some songs that stuck out. “Unscarred” had a pretty strong melodic touch to the chorus that took the band more into an Arch Enemy style atmospheric Melodic Death Metal approach. The vocals were handled more in a harmonized manner, and it sounded really good. In fact, the catchy chorus was still stuck in my head while I was advancing forward, and while I’m writing this article.
There’s also the more standard Sepultura-esque “Cut it Out,” but it had some extra intensity to it that really grabbed my attention. The music rarely progressed, maintaining the same hard hitting sound from the start, and whenever it did move forward it was a subtle shift that managed to increase the tension with destroying it. The breakdown isn’t the most impressive, but it works as a suitable exploding point, concluding with that same tense progression as before.
Other than that the first track “War is My Way” was a decent song, though nothing too unique. The introduction to the album is also tacked on, and it lasts over a minute before everything picks up. I can really sense this annoying the hell out of me and others listening to the album who just want to bang their heads and not wanting to deal with the establishing of atmosphere. Although, in its defense, it is a decent introduction that works well enough. There’s also “Black Flag” that has a decrent amount of energy, but loaded with breakdowns and far less unique than anything else I’ve heard up to that point. This includes “Unscarred,” which is good, but just a generally forgettable Groove Metal song. I said this because I already completely forget what it sounds like.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stop at the title track, and I wish I did. “Private Hell” is as if a Groove Metal group tried to throw Alternative Rock into the mix, and the vocal harmonizations are pretty awful in the chorus to the point where it makes things really rough to sit through. The whole mood of the album changes too, conflicting with the introductory atmosphere horribly in a radio friendly lighter tone than one with a strong hint of disgust and frustration that appears on every other song I’ve heard so far. Surprisingly, this wasn’t where I drew the line, but immediately called it quits once the acoustic guitars of “12 Angels” kicked in, making me fear the worst for what, looking back, seemed like a well done acoustic rock ballad piece, though I have no idea if it stayed that way or not…
Black Flag didn’t really offer up a rather unique experience for me. This album seems to target a much broader demographic, enticing people of all various walks of Metal and Rock life by having many of their typical compositions mixed with mainstream/Alternative influences, as well as some Melodic Death Metal. I even guarantee you that those different tracks will end up being the lead singles off the release. But, when the band sticks to their typical Groove Metal sound, they met my expectations and, in some ways, rose above them. I’m still not ready to add my first Ektomorf album to my collection, nor am I willing to even go so far as to throw the promo onto a blank CD-R and take it for a spin around the next block or two. But in the end, I did move my head along to the groove in all but song, and wound up with a catchy chorus stuck in my head. What more can I ask for in a casual spin?
Digital review material for this article provided by AFM Records via Earsplit PR.