REVIEW: ABORTED – “La Grande Mascarade” [EP]
Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of the “new” incarnation of Aborted, by which I mean the version of Aborted after 2008’s divisive “Strychnine.213”, and beginning with a reimagined, less grind-focused, more-straightforward death metal focused 2012’s “Global Flatline”. Truth be told, I didn’t care much for the grindier version of Aborted pre-Strychnine, even though the general consensus is that 2003’s “Goremageddon: The Saw and the Carnage Done” is the Aborted record by which every future record will be measured against. Anyone would agree that a seventeen-year-old record is hardly a justifiable yardstick for a band, especially a band as hardworking and diligent as Aborted. Like an ever-pressing Panzerfaust, these guys have rotated through an entire football team’s worth of personnel while crunching out record after record of highly proficient and sufficiently bloody enjoyable music. It is a wonder how the Belgian deathgrind/tech-death machine can churn out a record every two years or so and an EP in between records, and still maintain high standard excellence, but by all the Gods of Gore, they manage to do it, and 2020’s newest EP, La Grande Mascarade is living puss-filled fanged proof!
La Grande Mascarade is a follow-up to 2018’s “Terrorvision”, a record that pressed further into more traditional death and technical death metal tropes: longer songs with more streamlined structures, a higher focus on thematic arrangements, a higher emphasis on longer melodic sections, and even the odd breakdown or two thrown in there to appease the core fans. They have slowly been moving firmly into technical death metal territory while still having nods and winks to their “gore”ier roots: with the classic horror movie samples as seen on lead single “Gloom and the Arts of Tribulation” and “Serpent of Depravity” inserted into every other track without which an Aborted record would not fulfill its namesake.
What we get on La Grande Mascarade is about fifteen minutes and three tracks of razor-sharp, blisteringly fast death metal, nearly completing the transformation Aborted started with “Global Flatline” and nudged and honed over the records that followed. Listeners expecting heavier influences of “Goremageddon…” will be sorely disappointed, as the “new” Aborted is here to stay, with melodic passages and backing string arrangements to create higher levels on grandiosity (as heard on tracks like “Divine Impediment” off “Terrorvision”). Every track on this record proceeds at a panic-inducing breakneck pace, to a point where the “slower” punchier sections come as welcome relief. As a personal fan insert, I hear minor influences of Job For A Cowboy’s “Gloom EP” on certain sections of “Serpent of Depravity”, yet the listener’s mileage may vary.
It is important to note, that though Aborted’s lineup is highly ephemeral, there has been a small sense of stability over the last 2-3 records, however with the departure of guitarist Mendel bij de Leij, this is the first record with new guitarist Harrison Patuto (Dissonance in Design, ex-Vale of Pnath) who is no stranger to writing amazing technical death metal. His effect is clearly seen on the quicker and denser riffs and lengthy solos on each of the tracks, further cementing the claim that Aborted is simply a technical death metal band. Patuto’s efforts are backed by Ian Jekelis on guitars keeping the “Terrorvision” and “Retrogore” sound alive, and bassist Stefano Franceschini on bass, who is also no stranger to the death metal scene. Drummer Ken Bedene is quickly becoming synonymous with Aborted and his drums are as beastly and precise as ever. Last but not least, Aborted is vacuous without only its only consistent member, founder, and lifeblood: vocalist Sven de Caluwe, who has uncovered a higher pitch to his vocal register on La Grande Mascarade, adding to his massive repertoire of vocal techniques adding yet another dimension to the ever-evolving Aborted sound.
Each of the three tracks on La Grande Mascarade has a unique flourish while still maintaining and pushing forth the message that Aborted have no intention of taking their foot off the throttle or off our necks. The future of the world we live in may be thrown into turmoil, but we can rest on one fact, Aborted still has the ability to write fantastic metal!