Founded in small Belgian municipality of Beveren in 1995, death metal merchants Aborted went from underground heroes—debut album, The Purity of Perversion, cut right to the proverbial bone—to heralded genre leaders by the time they had released their fifth album (and first for Century Media), Slaughter & Apparatus: A Methodical Overture. Initially inspired by Carcass, Suffocation, Deicide, Morbid Angel, and Slayer, as well as being informed by horror movies like Hellraiser, Re-Animator, and Evil Dead, Aborted’s musical and visual vision was perfectly aligned to death metal’s core axioms. And that still holds true today.
“[Our sound] is like a bulldozer ramming down a rollercoaster, smashing a billion bodies without remorse, warning, or regret,” says vocalist Sven de Caluwé. [We are] death incarnate!”
Such hyperbolic statements are rare in death metal these days, but de Caluwé absolutely means it. Over the course of nine full-lengths—Retrogore is Aborted’s newest—the intimidating frontman has growled, grunted, and roared over blasting, uncompromising death metal, with lyrical topics covering gore, the horrors of religion, pornography, gangrene, serial killers, Cenobites, and more. Aborted is both a deep, gross dive into the fantastically blood-thirsty, but it’s also a direct reflection of humanity.
“I loathe the current state of our society.“ de Caluwé reveals. “This album [Retrogore] has more personal views upon religion and politics than I ever thought I would put on paper for a band, as I hate getting into those matters. We prefer getting into gore-loving fun themes about poo-poo and horror movies, but some things needs to be said, of course, in our own very well-aborted drenched sauce!”
Written over the course of 2015 by all members of Aborted, Retrogore is both technically proficient yet sublimely dark. Songs like “Cadaverous Collection”, “Divine Impediment”, “From Beyond (The Grave)”, and the title track feature Aborted’s signature style, with the addition of haunting melodies and oppressive doom motifs upping the sonic ante. And the hooks? Retrogore has more hooks than the entire Hellraiser series combined. “It is darker, more evil sounding,” laughs de Caluwé maniacally. “There is just as much extremity and intensity as The Necrotic Manifesto, but it is a bit more spaced, some parts are more memorable/catchy, some parts are way more over-the-top technical and extreme. Retrogore has the fastest tempos we ever recorded. And it has the typical Aborted sound, just evolved into a darker, more pessimistic, horrendous way.”
If the album title Retrogore implies anything it’s that Aborted are still enthralled by the horror movies they grew up with and were roused by. Whether it’s The Funhouse, The Gate, An American Werewolf in London, Possession, or Tenebre, the sanguine arts are definitely part of Aborted’s odious fabric. Even the incredible Christopher Lovell cover art is a throwback to the 1980s, with references to Nintendo and He-Man. “Retrogore is all about nostalgia towards the good old golden age of horror, the ‘80s,” de Caluwé offers. “So, it’s very heavily inspired by that time period in cinema, as well as some more current political and religious events that have seeped their way into my thoughts.”
For Retrogore, the Belgians decided to move away from Hansen Studios—where they recorded Global Flatline and The Necrotic Manifesto, respectively—to hit up Kohlekeller Studios with producer Kristian Kohlmannslehner. The studio previously housed death metallers Benighted, gothic metallers Crematory, and heavy metallers Powerwolf, but was primed for Aborted as the group had recently exited with the Termination Redux EP in hand.
“We recorded for roughly 22 days,” remembers de Caluwé. Give or take a few. [Also], no late night kebabs were involved. We cooked for ourselves mostly.” Comparing the recording of Retrogore to The Purity of Perversion and the pivotal Engineering the Dead has its
pitfalls—technologically speaking—but every aspect of putting and album together and recording it has changed. Mostly for the better, according to the Belgian.
“I cannot emphasize it enough,” de Caluwé huffs. “Vastly. There was no recording stuff at home then. There was practice 2-4 times a week to try to hash out songs that way, which was also great because you immediately knew the songs would work live. Now, it’s a lot easier to pan out your ideas within the area of knowing what you can play. However, you have to actually play it as a band to know if the songs will transcend on a stage or not. A mistake many bands make.”
If 2015 was Aborted’s finest year to date—and their 20th Anniversary—then 2016 is poised to take Aborted to new heights. New album, Retrogore, is an absolute rager, an unparalleled tour de force heretofore unseen in the group’s oeuvre. It’s a massive step forward. With tracks like “Whoremageddon”, “Termination Redux”, and the album’s incredible capper “In Avernus”, Retrogore is death metal for a new age, fashioned in hate and forged with carnage in mind for audiences new and old.
By Chris Dick