Is there anyone who dislikes Aborted? You probably nod your head in quiet admiration at the mention of the Benelux veterans when you survey the contemporary death metal scene. Led by sole founding member, Sven de Caluwé, the group’s influence on the current generation of extreme deathcore and brutal death metal (BDM) bands is remarkable. Everyone from Whitechapel, Ingested and Carnifex to the most obscure underground names in South-East Asia draw on the Aborted sound for inspiration.
Now on their eleventh album, the multi-national metal heroes remind us in no time why people hold them in such high esteem. Aborted are the link between modern death metal, slam and deathcore, yet they also showcase their thrash and groove metal influences with the same panache as Kataklysm. They’re also aware that relentless blasting for an entire album is self-defeating, as evidenced by the swirling guitar pedal ambience and faint keyboard notes lingering at the beginning of ‘Verderf’. You expect a murderous assault, but they fall into a slow grind of monstrous chord accents and crisp drum rituals with the malevolent vocal schizophrenia of Sven de Caluwé setting the mood for the carnage of the title track. ‘Maniacult’ is the standout song of the record and an instant classic with its multi-faceted approach centred around the stupendous footwork of drummer, Ken Bedene. If only more BDM bands incorporated the chunky grooves of Aborted into their attack. The neo-classical guitar solo is even more impressive.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this record is the pseudo-black metal vocal approach favoured by Sven on the likes of ‘Impetus Odi’ and ‘A Vulgar Quagmire’. Ironically, the former sounds like Carnifex, who take a clear inspiration from Aborted but can now see their own unique extreme metal taking root in their idols. Seldom do you hear that classic 90s post-thrash guitar tone in brutal death metal, but here it runs throughout Maniacult like a reminder of a lost heyday that nobody understood at the time. ‘Portal to Vacuity’ dares to blend black metal riffing with hardcore vocals and a quintessential barrage of Bolt Thrower death-thrash before resetting with industrial percussion and atmospheric effects.
The only issue you’ll have with this record is the potential overkill that starts to sink in at the halfway point. Every song has an abundance of dazzling double-kick drum rhythms and chunky guitars, but the effect of cramming as much terror and chaos into the same orbit as Sven’s multi-tracked vocal shrieks allows you to acclimatise to the brutality with surprising nonchalance. Fortunately, Aborted realise this and slip in the spooky piano interlude of ‘Verbolgen’ at track seven to prepare you for the hardwired Anaal Nathrakh-meets-thrash offensive of ‘Ceremonial Ineptitude’. This is an excellent strategic decision and one that allows you to recharge for the remaining three songs and culmination of ‘I Prediletti: The Folly of the Gods’. Here, they start with harmonising guitars before ripping into a BDM frenzy and finding an imperious stride through the medium of ambient tremolo patterns. It erases the disappointment of the predecessor song, ‘Grotesque’, in one swoop and reminds you that Aborted are more than just a name to toss about in the discussions about true death metal.
They might take minimal risks on this record, but Maniacult is a solid effort. Like Vader, the metal world needs its soldiers for the cause. Aborted won’t reach any further milestones or win new accolades, but they can be proud of their contribution to the cause with this LP.
Release Date: 10/09/2021
Record Label: Century Media
Standout tracks: Maniacult, Portal to Vacuity, Ceremonial Ineptitude
Suggested Further Listening: Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined (2021), Deeds of Flesh – Nucleus (2020), Carnifex – Graveside Confessions (2021)