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Synth Album Review: "Trick or Treat" by Ectoplague

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

synth-album-review-trick-or-treat-by-ectoplague

Initial Impressions

Ectoplague’s Trick or Treat album captures the entertainingly terrifying essence of classic teen slasher movies, full of tension, nervousness and looming shadows that stretch out their hungry grasp. The combination of deep bass, hard-edged sawtooth synth growl and the winding high synth arpeggios and leads along with drums that punch into the gut create a sonic environment that is both fun and dark.

The most effective part of Trick or Treat is how Ectoplague generates imagery and atmosphere. Using all of the tightly wound high synth sounds over the depths of the bass generates simultaneous sensations of worry and danger. The driving beats add energy and weight while moments of melancholy piano add a certain forlorn quality. All in all the horror film vibes are pretty undeniable here.

There’s an unstoppable quality to the drums and bass on many of the tracks on Trick Or Treat. The pulse seems to go on and on, adding a sense of rising darkness that can’t be stopped. The propulsive quality keeps my ears engaged and add a feeling of power that only contributes to the way this album feels and the energy that it has.

The layering of sounds and shifting sound patterns are another key feature of this album. The way in which Ectoplague stacks up different, interlocking patterns of synths and allows them to twist and curl one over the other produces a dense sound that only adds to the overall feeling of things that you really don't want to see which lurk in the dark. The interactions of all the different sounds keep ramping up the shadows and the tension, never letting up as they all shift around each other.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Return of the Gate” comes to life with darkly layered synths full of nervous tension that are joined by a pounding beat as quick, twisting arpeggios flow through the track. The surging pulses of bass join the descending lead synth before a tense, wandering synth pattern contributes a feeling of terrified stumbling through darkness. Ectoplague gives us a momentary pause before the heavy bass and drums crash into the track again. Once again, tension and worry move through the music before we return to wildly oscillating arpeggios and the tense lead synth pattern.

Hollow, evil-sounding pulses of synth kick-off “Come Get Me” as brighter, higher flashes of sound also move in. Ectoplague’s vocals are sensual and shadowy as the beat throbs and surges through the music. The aggressive drums and bass slam the music forward powerfully while the high synths add a minor key shimmer that I find likable. There’s a shine to the lead synth but a shine still touched by the dark weight of the track.

The lyrics to this song are a lot of fun. The opening line is entertaining as Ectoplague sings, “Come get me like you meant to, I've got the recipe to tempt you. If you got it in for me, then I've got something you ought to see.”

There’s a sense of beckoning in the lines, “You're looking at me and you're moving your hips. I've got a message waiting upon my lips baby.” I also found the line, "I didn't come here to watch you walk, I'm bringing it your way ready or not baby” to be quite fun!

“The Crescent Heights Slasher” does a good job of emphasizing those horror movie vibes. The track starts with slowly shifting piano chords that move in with shadowy distortion. There’s a high synth spinning out a tense arpeggio as the piano plays a dancing minor melodic line. The weighty drums and snarling bass are joined by a high, twisting synth line which nicely increases the nervous feelings of the track. There's a relentless quality to this track as rough-edged synth pulses surround the nervous higher synth that moves over it. This is a track that oozes drama and danger from every musical pore.

Dark, ominous sounds start “Haunted House” as the lacerating edge of the bass joins a slow throb of drums. There’s a tasty, writhing lead synth line that climbs up and over the depths underneath it as the relentless beat slams in along with rapid, unsettling arpeggios. I find it interesting that the lead melody is twisted but still touched by a certain melancholy in this track. There is a fun “don’t look behind you” vibe to everything here which adds to the overall feeling of this album.

“Creature Feature” begins on a more relaxed note than previous tracks with arpeggios that feel easier and undulating waves of bass that move underneath them. Those bass pulses are joined by a shining, minor high synth that plays with a string-like sound. The glowing feeling is a nice touch here. Now the thick drums slam into the track while the arpeggios spin.

Tension grows as the tightly-wound high synth cries out over the pulsation of the beats and bass underneath it. Everything heaves forward full of a sense of danger, albeit one infused with energy. Underneath it all, there's an environment full of barely restrained threat.

Pipe organ and slightly distant choral voices create rising shadows as "Castle Krykun” kicks off. The organ’s distinctive notes are joined by rising waves of darkness and another high chiming synth plays that shifting arpeggios that shiver with worry.

The heavy beat slams in and brightly glowing synths with a Baroque element play patterns of nerve-tickling notes which only ramp the tension up more. There’s an addition of mournful piano notes that drift into the music briefly. Everything thunders on, nervous and full of trepidation as those classically inflected patterns of notes drift in again.

Verdict

If you want a fun horror-fest of music, you can’t go far wrong with Trick or Treat. It has a good time playing with horror movie tropes but it doesn’t slide over into being overly clichéd about them. There’s a pleasing terror in the writhing synths, deeply throbbing bass and battering drums of the album and I certainly had fun listening to the album.