Spitefull is the debut album from Israeli melodic folk/black metal act Ekho. The self-produced album was released in 2011 and followings on from a pair of the demo releases, Nymph and Among the Shadows of Erebus.
Most of the second demo, among the Shadows of Erebus also appears on the seven track album. The tracks appear in more polished versions and the title track as been renamed to simply Among Them. The only track absent from the demo is its closing instrumental Across, which in itself is a real shame because Across was quite an interesting closing piece for the demo and would have suited Spitefull in much the same way. Its absence, or at least the absence of a track in the same vein, makes Ekho seem more of a one dimensional act than I previously knew them to be. This is, naturally, something of a disappointment.
The second disappointment with Spitefull is its length. The full-length album only just gets by the half an hour mark, and only features seven tracks, three of which we’ve heard before. These tracks are at least very noticeably improved upon, with Bar Sanitovsky’s vocals being the most massive improvement in the overall sound of the band, although I do find myself wishing that he would stick to his growl when there’s a moment where some cleaner vocals are used, in the opening track Departure and in closer The Spite, although they are better in the latter.
Spitefull is mostly a positive experience though. The band’s sound is highly melodic and is mostly rooted in black metal rhythms and vocals, topped off with some folksy lead guitar melodies and use of keyboards that don’t push the release into any massively symphonic territories. Some of the new songs on the album don’t showcase as many folk leanings as the one included from the demo, which is something you’ll likely note straight away after you’ve heard Departure and Frail Life when Waters of Abyss kicks in. Overall this is still a melodic folk metal release over a black metal one, since those folk leanings can be very prominent in their sound, especially in Wrath Behind You, but the first two tracks are their most black metal sounding pieces on offer, the folk really picks up from there in.
To be honest, although there is a lot of improvement in Ekho’s sound on the album, Spitefull doesn’t make it any further up on the ladder of excellence than they did with Among the Shadows of Erebus. They were close to stepping up a rung, but didn’t quite get there, mostly for the issues I outlined at the start of this review. The album is however solid material and highly professional from the bunch of young talented guys but they’ve still got a bit of a way to go yet before they take that step onto the rung that signifies a real masterful release. But while they only just made it onto the ‘solid album’ rung with the prior demo, with Spitefull they’re firmly on it and ready to take that next step for album number two. I’ll be very interested to hear what they can come up with when that time comes.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scored at 8.1/10)