(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Aborted, which Century Media released on September 21st.)
Aborted have evolved in quite a fascinating way over the years. They are, in my mind, one of death metal’s most essential bands, especially in the brand of more chaotic, panicky, fast-as-fuck brutality, and they have developed a pretty diverse discography as they’ve moved from album to album. The MOST interesting thing about Aborted, though, was how a band whose only original member is the vocalist and almost couldn’t seem to keep a steady song-writer or writers for more than a single album, finally succeeded in cementing not only a definitive sound but also one that’s paid off in dividends ever since Global Flatline.
They did that by locking in a song-writer and guitar virtuoso in the person of Mendel bij de Leij, who was dedicated to preserving a previous sonic direction for Aborted, a first for the band. Believe it or not, until Global Flatline, Aborted underwent a change in both guitar players every other album, with one always getting changed out in every album. And that’s not counting the rotating gallery of drummers and bassists the band has had.
Mendel wasn’t in Aborted when Global Flatline came out, but I think it’s pretty cool that he’s helped steer the band toward preserving a sound, rather than writing an entirely different type of album again, especially since what Aborted are doing now is pretty multi-faceted. I’m sure, though, that vocalist and only remaining founding member Sven de Caluwé has also steered the direction toward this more focused sound as well.
As a result, I would classify Aborted into two eras: pre-Global Flatline and post-. Everything before that album is, for lack of better words, a fun and reckless kind of sound. I always felt the song-writing had a very made-up-on-the-spot-in-a-jam-session vibe, not at all calculated and pieced together after the fact. What they’ve done since Global Flatline, though, has been VERY intensely song-writing focused. More linear song structures with more strategically implemented tempo changes, riffs designed from draft one to be ear worms, and vocal rhythms explicitly designed for hooks, combined with a heightened sense of technicality, as been their MO. Everything about current Aborted sounds, and is, meticulously crafted and chiseled in marble down to the finest detail.
So here we are at TerrorVision, the fourth record of this refined and disciplined version of Aborted. While it would be easy to just say that if you’ve liked the last three albums you’ll love this new one, there is a bit more to it than that.
In a lot of ways, this album dials back the song-writing emphasis just a tad in the name of a higher technical ceiling, while attempting some small bits of experimentation that are welcome. There’s semi-reccuring John Carpenter ’80s style horror synth stuff on this album at times. which gels with the sound exceptionally well. The lead guitar aspect on this record has also been brought up a couple of notches, featuring some of the most flagrantly pornographic displays of shred the band have done. They have also strayed away from the harmonic minor melodic patterns they’ve typically been locked into, and incorporated more of a Suffocation-esque melodic dissonance.
Another thing that’s very pronounced on this record is an increase in vocal tonal diversity. Sven has been getting better as a vocalist with every Aborted release, but there’s a significant increase in the amount of nuance in his delivery this time around. His signature bark is a little deeper, OR a little higher, at a lot of times and at others his gutturals take on completely different characteristics than they have before.
While the focus on song-writing was diminished a tad, the increased technical aspects combined with that song-writing sense finds this album setting up significantly harder moments of impact than before. The transition into the solo of the album’s first single, “Squalor Opera”, epitomizes this. There are other moments that I won’t dissect in detail, but when the big climactic melody, the breakdown, the solo, or the bridge hits, it really counts on Terrorvision. It’s one of the record’s strongest features for sure.
With that said, this album also brings back a groovy style of death metal that they do so well, which results in the sounds of humans being thrown into wood-chippers. Songs like “Deep Red” and “Altro Inferno” are some of the best groove numbers the band have ever written. On the opposite end of the spectrum, this record also has some of the best death-grind-flavored songs that Aborted have ever crafted. “Squalor Opera” and “A Whore d’Oeuvre Macabre” are among the best of the band’s more savage cuts. The frantic, kinetic, fuck-ton of energy on those songs is enough to sentence any pit to self-inflicted death.
Overall, this strikes me as Aborted’s most mature and refined album to date. If you’re still waiting for the older, looser material of this band to make a comeback, I think you can take this album as a mission statement that that is never going to happen. I’m totally on board with that statement. Terrorvision belongs in a list of their top three best albums.
I love what I’ve heard so far, and as usual the album artwork is fantastic.
Much as I like his work, and it’s good to see Aborted (hopefully) locking down a reasonably constant/consistent line-up, I’d say that Mendel’s work so far has been “mixed”.
“Necrotic…” = awesome
“Retrogore” = sub-par
“Terrorvision” = good
Hopefully they can keep Jekelis in the group too, as I’d be interested in seeing/hearing the two of them developing as a tag-team going forwards.