‘Guitarist, Trent Limburg, is an axeman to watch out for in the future, but we can only hope he and his band widen their palette for the next record… It’s what they do on album number three that will define them,’ said SBR in our review of Carrion Vael’s sophomore effort, God Killer. The band are now on Unique Leader Records and have two more years of wisdom on their side, but the Indiana quintet still leave you jaded at the conclusion of the listening experience. There’s nothing wrong with the musicianship or the tempo of Abhorrent Obsessions, but you’ll need plenty of stamina to survive it.
You have every reason to fear for the life of this LP as a product of the world’s most famous brutal death metal (BDM)/slam record label. Is there a genre more monotonous and symptomatic of all that’s wrong with the overproduced extreme metal of today? You know what to expect – ubiquitous drum triggers, violent down-picking guitars, melodramatic vocals with a heightened sense of bloodlust. Carrion Vael employ all these things but embrace the neo-classical element where other bands would stick to Suffocation worship. Opener, ‘Wings of Deliverance’, dares to incorporate a choir reared in Satan’s palace for its backbone while harvesting melodies from sparkling guitar rhythms. Imagine a BDM version of At the Gates played by five men in the path of a face-ripping hurricane. ‘The Devil in Me’ gives you no time to digest the carnage with its frantic blast beats and shredding guitar lines.
It’s somewhat inevitable that the greatest enjoyment will come in the first half of the record. Your stamina can handle the onslaught, and your mind can keep up with the rapid-fire vocals until the twenty-minute mark. Standout track, ‘Kentucky Fried Strangulation’, showcases Carrion Vael at their brutal best. The guitar riffs offer a golden temptation that will corrupt you later down the line; the drums envelop you in a torturous maze. Think of Cattle Decapitation with the mellifluous textures of Archspire. Every member of the band operates at maximum capacity here like superhuman military engineers erecting a bridge over a river in less than four hours.
The main problem here is the unwillingness to move away from the skull-shattering tempo of Aborted. Every track blasts at 220bpm in the expectation that you’ll have insufficient oxygen to complain about the monotony. The polished mix and lifeless drum triggers don’t help, either. Once you’ve heard three songs, you’ve heard them all. Like Ophidian I, the attempt to dazzle you with gleaming guitars and pastel textures cannot conceal the one-dimensional nature of the music. ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and ‘The Paint Shop’ refuse to come to life despite your best efforts to resuscitate them with repeat listens.
While Abhorrent Obsessions is not a regression from 2020’s God Killer, it’s hard to see it as an upgrade. You can’t accuse Carrion Vael of overreliance on the slam formula of bottom-end dynamics for the bludgeoning coup de grâce, but the predictability factor tarnishes what should be an enlivening thirty-eight minutes.
Release Date: 12/08/2022
Record Label: Unique Leader Records
Standout tracks: Wings of Deliverance, Kentucky Fried Strangulation, Disturbia
Suggested Further Listening: Ophidian I – Desolate (2021), Deeds of Flesh – Nucleus (2020), Archspire – Bleed the Future (2021)