I’ve spent, in retrospect, perhaps a little bit too much time in my life waxing poetic about Aborted. I’ve rambled about their latest full length, TerrorVision, at pretty much every opportunity afforded. It’s safe to say I have a deep love for this band--but yet, there is no single album in their discography that I consider a god-tier achievement. Rather, each subsequent effort they release stands as an accomplishment as a piece in a larger puzzle: Aborted’s nigh-untouchable legacy. They have, as far as I’m concerned, never released a dud, despite a stupidly complex rotating cast of characters. Marked consistency is the name of the game, and on La Grande Mascarade, their latest three-track EP, these revered pros deliver another satisfying slab of desecrated death metal meat.
Over the past few decades, Sven de Caluwé and his hodge-podge lineup have slowly moved from the overtly grind-infected to something approaching the cerebrality of Carcass-ian death metal. Songs got longer. A melodic edge became increasingly prevalent, as did the technical elements. They have seemed in recent years to increasingly lean into an epic flair--in terms of grandiosity, but also in terms of the deliberate narrative expansive in the context of individual tracks. Rather than mere sonic expressions of extremity and/or brutality, modern Aborted deliver what feels like genuine stories--perhaps more here than ever before. 2016's Retrogore and 2018 follow-up TerrorVision were the paragons of this gradual evolution. With this EP sealing the deal, it's safe to say they ain't going back to their primordial days. I mean, there's backing strings on this thing. Grind, in other words, it ain't. Aborted is some high-class shit now, thankyouverymuch.
Things kick off in typical horror-cinema fashion with a sample of Dr. Loomis' 2007 monologue--and then "Gloom and the Art of Tribulation" rolls into high gear. This is a fairly typical track at this stage in Aborted's career, feat. maniacal percussion, equally maniacal vocal expulsions, and a wide bevy of riffs and frenetic transitions. There's a sweet tech-y solo buried in the middle of this track, which plays off the subsequent plodding vox quite well. Follow-up "Serpent of Depravity" leans a little harder into the brutality, with a hefty breakdown drawing some headbangable 'core elements into the fray. This track is a prime example of an ability to write dynamic tracks--songs that move from beginning to end in a unexpected pattern. Not quite meandering, but certainly taking a few stops to smell different genre conventions along the way.
Lastly, closer "Funereal Maladiction" expands of the veritable arsenal of vocal cadences and styles of delivery, from a psuedo-hardcore bark to trademark thick gutterals. The drumming is also as particular notes, as it offers a distinct punch and forward momentum as the guitars shred in spastic sypentinian symphony. Across the breadth, the style doesn't change, and none of the tracks feel remarkably distinct. They need not. Each represents the high caliber we have come to expect.
On this EP, Aborted does was Aborted does best: deliver consistency. While not a particularly shiny gem in the grand scheme of their discography, nor a release that will garner in a fresh new horde of unfamiliar fans, La Grande Mascarade serves as yet another reminder that ye are witnessing the kings of death metal consistency. If you spend your days yearning for the days of grind-centric Goremageddon, and lament the fact that Aborted have slowly moved away from their roots, this EP won’t win you back. But if you, like any rational death metal fan, have a constant hankering for the particular brand of grind-lite slaughter they’ve been churning out on a near-yearly basis since 2012’s Global Flatline, I wholeheartedly recommend you give these three tracks a moment of your time.
In sum? Their role in the grand scheme is further reinforced. So goes the life and times of Aborted.
Aborted - La Grande Mascarade was released April 17th, 2020 from Century Media
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!