Belgian export Aborted are just as happy telling wet fart jokes as they are purveying some of the finest death metal on the continent. Over the course of the group’s 20-plus career, they’ve transformed—via tongue-through-cheek and gross-out histrionics—from minor curio to the Powerhouse from Flanders. The ascent through death metal’s maggot-infested, disease-ridden ranks didn’t come easy, however. Starting with 2003’s stab-to-the-face Goremageddon: The Saw and the Carnage Done, Aborted crawled through some of the most disgusting sewers, serviced some of the wickedest human waste plants, and cleaned up Europe’s most brutal crime scenes. From there, it’s been nothing but golden showers and true reverence (by fan and peer alike) across six agonizingly good full-lengths. But Aborted aren’t that funny. They are, however, sickly serious and positively savage.
“We take everything we do very serious, even our shitty ass jokes,” says founding member and frontman Sven 'Svencho' de Caluwé. “In all honesty, we take everything music related, performance and show related extremely serious, when it comes to imagery it’s more about being who we are, which is, a bunch of nerds playing music we love and enjoying it, and it shows from stage banter to our merchandise and visual style. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t well thought out.”
Brawn over brains—or gurgling guts over smart-ass smarts—has been Aborted’s musical motto since they plunged out of death metal’s womb with aplomb. Early demos The Splat Pack and The Necrotorous Chronicles proved they were super-keen on cleaning up Repulsion’s coffin maggots and Autopsy’s charred remains to think (hard) beyond the dilapidated funeral home they called a hovel for the better part of their existence. The follow-up to 2016 face-smash, Retrogore, is the harrowingly named TerrorVision. But it’s not just the title that’s impressive. On TerrorVision, Aborted rivet death metal to the proverbial prep table. Some of the sickest riffs, sleaziest—OK, sexiest—grooves, and most insane blasts in Aborted’s history can be found nestled inside TerrorVision’s terribly formidable suite of songs. Aborted’s girth…er, growth is noticeable.
“Sort of like saying the penis gel we bought a while ago is finally paying off and that nice girth is setting in,” Svencho says. “I think we can attribute it to the fact that we have done some very restrictive touring for Retrogore. Meaning to that we were very picky about tours and did some more high-profile stuff with a very clear focus of what we want to do. We were also very conscious that Retrogore was just one step into evolving our sound more. We took advantage of the time we had at home to write, write and rewrite as much as we could to get to the best result. So, definitely a lot of time and effort and detail work went into TerrorVision.”
Terrorvision isn’t just the follow-up to Retrogore either. Written over a year and a half with producer Kristian 'Kohle' Kohlmannslehner, Aborted’s 10th full-length advances on Retrogore’s devilish descant by raising the stakes substantially. Quality over quantity. Songs like “Farewell to the Flesh,” “Squalor Opera,” “Verspertine Decay,” and the title track are Aborted on fire, inspired by their own wickedness and informed by the nasty doings of others. There may be no finer death metal record in 2018 than TerrorVision.
“We wanted to keep the intensity, brutality and atmosphere we already set with the band,” says Svencho. “So, it’s in line with that, but we wanted to add this new dimension to it, as well as much more diversity and catchy vocal choruses, if there even is such a thing in death metal. Honestly, we are all very proud about all the songs on the record and the ones that didn’t make it on there. [They'll] get released later on. "Vespertine Decay," "Exquisite Covinous Drama, "Visceral Despondency" and the title track are some of my favorites.”
The lyrics for TerrorVision diverge from Retrogore and its predecessors. Instead of taking Fulci-driven fantasies and Argento-inflected aspirates to their next logical conclusion, Svencho switched it up, opting to use ‘80s horror movies as a lens into what’s happening in the world today. Beastly disguised behind putrescent prose, tracks like “Visceral Despondency,” “A Whore d'Oeuvre Macabre,” and “The Final Absolution” are heavy in their observation and meaningful in their conveyance.
“This record is quite different from any we have done before,” Svencho says. “It is, more or less, about what is going on with the world right now, all in Aborted sauce obviously. There is a deeper meaning, layered thoughts in there, more so than before. Think of TerrorVision as if it were an ‘80s horror movie talking about how the media in general is some sort of evil, demonic presence that is manipulating the opinion of the masses by spreading hate, fear, bigotry, terror, racism and all those fun things that make humans the most terrible thing to have ever happened to this planet. So, there is quite some stuff going on there that is not just the typical gore lyrics.”
TerrorVision’s drums and vocals were recorded by Kohlmannslehner at Kohlekeller Studios in Seeheim-Jugenheim, Germany over a two-and-a-half-week period, while the guitars and bass were recorded by guitarists Mendel bij de Leij and Ian Jekelis at Aborted’s home studio in Heerenveen, Netherlands. Kohlmannslehner then assembled the recorded carnal chanteys to mix and master. The result is massively massive and harmoniously heavy. Helps too that this is Kohlmannslehner’s third Aborted project.
“Kohlmannslehner has been doing every release for us after The Necrotic Manifesto,” says Svencho. “He’s close to the band, he knows what we want, and he is very opinionated, which we were not used to at first! But it’s good because he is very invested in the project and from early on he was adding his thoughts on structures or riffs, he composed some of the interlude/samples/keys that are on the record, so he definitely was part of the team from start to finish on this record. He’s a very driven and creative mind to work with.”
Aborted needed a brazen cover to coincide with their next-level death metal beat down on TerrorVision, so they hired Swedish artist Pär Olofsson to conjure up a gore-soaked version of Bladerunner. The inside panels were done by returning Aborted artist and collaborator, Coki Greenway, who’s done work for Nuclear Assault, Devourment, Machine Head, and more. In the end, the cover to TerrorVision is horrifying to look at let alone imagine. It’s the sum of all our fears in unrecognizable monster form.
“We were extremely pleased with the cover for Retrogore and we were not going to settle for less, so we decided to hire Pär for this one,” Svencho says. “After a couple of emails about the concept and one or two drafts from his side he came up with the cover art. We had a couple fixes to it which were honestly minor. He really knocked it out of the park in no time and exactly brought to the table we wanted. The colors are quite unique and unsettling (green and red is a terrible visual combo, for nightmares really, on the psyche) so it just worked. We were blown away and he was definitely the right choice.”
Aborted are: Sven 'Svencho' de Caluwé (vocals), Ken Bedene (drums), Mendel bij de Leij (guitars), Ian Jekelis (guitars) and Stefano Franceschini (basses). They want you to listen to…no, worship TerrorVision. Just don’t expect Aborted to clean up the mess you make thereafter. They’re still on clean up duty. Boy, Repulsion and Autopsy made a real mess all those years ago.
By Chris Dick