Slaughter & Apparatus: A Methodical Overture
posted on 3/2007 By:
It's no secret that death metal is facing stagnation on all fronts. With myspace 'deathcore' exploding and increasing numbers of previously established bands reforming and retreading old ground, a comparatively young and well-known band sticking to its guns, yet demonstrating a creative niche in death metal has become quite a rare thing. With The Archaic Abattoir, many pointed a finger and understandably aired concerns about Aborted's development from straight-up, Carcass-derived gory brutality to something noticeably more sedate and melodious. I'm delighted to report that Aborted have at least reigned in the knucklehead, lethargic grooves and unleashed something that might actually be musically relevant.
In case anyone jumps to conclusions and thinks Slaughter & Apparatus: A Methodical Overture (let's just say S&A:AMO from now on) might then be an 'original recipe!' retreading of Goremageddon or even Engineering the Dead, I'll have to disappoint you right now. Most of the touches that turned noses away from their last full-length are still here, they're simply refined, concentrated and much, much more effective. "The Chondrin Enigma" opens with some contextualising spoken samples but quickly gets to work expounding all of Aborted's recognised traits thus far, good and controversial alike. Straddling a fine line between contemporary groove-conscious 'core' action and classic gore-soaked buzzsawing, we get tempests of stuttering, bludgeoning riffwork and blazing solos laid fluidly over a mixture of almost irresponsibly aggressive blasts and typical death metal beat-keeping. The title track and "And Carnage Basted In Its Ebullience" use this approach to construct robotic, serpentine, mid-paced grooves that actually sound curiously similar to the last In-Quest record. The latter song continually segues from those rhythmic ruts into inspired, frantic mayhem at the behest of recording skinsman Dave Haley's perfectly placed blasts. "The Foul Nucleus Of Reason" demonstrates his aptitude with some roundly produced and creative fills, but he doesn't for one moment stray from Aborted's established, distinctive percussive terror. A good thing too, because when they pull all the stops and apply a real groove, things get so damn heavy that scenesters won't know what the hell has hit them. Their situation is made worse (and mine better) by the fact that Sven & co. have become smart enough to know when to cut the crap and get back to the high BPMs. "Archetype" is the best example. There, the groove of the album is built solely by guitars and supported on the edge of its rhythm by Sven de Caluwe's increasingly varied sociopathic screams, grunted howls and indifferent, distorted 'talking' for want of a better word. Instead of taking the obvious route and syncopating around the guitars, Dave Haley is allowed to unleash a typical Aborted blastbeat that doesn't support the groove at all. The result is crushing and surprisingly textured modern brutality.
As if an obsessive-compulsive lust for bursts of speed, gutter-dredging bottom end crunch and vocalised demonic fits wasn't enough, S&A:AMO features another stab at the melodic possibilities too. They, like the grooves, have also gone through an adjustment of focus. On "Prolific Murder Contrivance", Aborted salute their primogenitor Carcass (whose iconic frontman Jeff Walker lends classy vocals on the title track) with flashy'n'catchy lead guitar that was probably generously lended to them, such is its similarity to Necroticism material. Most of the tracks play with similar lead guitar and concise, Gothenburg-tinged riffs with varying degrees of success. Some cuts such as "Archetype", "Ingenuity In Genocide" and the grandiose closer "Underneath Rorulent Soil" get an almost death'n'roll swagger going, while "The Spaying Séance" although heavy, falls flat on its face with over-complicated attempts at modern melodeath riffing and odd, half-whispered vocals. At their worst on this record, Aborted come close to sounding like a confused, rabid Dark Tranquillity, but they nevertheless remain menacing enough to avoid recalling the lesser moments of The Archaic Abattoir, even when the flailing solos tiptoe their way into heavy metal virtuoso territory.
With their renewed aggressiveness and more balanced approach to songwriting, Aborted have brought their game a couple steps back from the brink of deathcore idolatry. Fans who fell in love with Goremageddon may have some of their faith restored by S&A:AMO, and others concerned with gore metal's progress in the new millennium are likely to find some surprises here too.
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The Archaic Abattoir
Goremageddon: The Saw and the Carnage Done