Listening to Shifting.negative makes me want to apologize. To all members of Aborym, and particularly mainman Fabrizio “Fabban” Giannese – I’m sorry for whatever conditions existed in your lives that caused you to think creating this album was a good idea. I also want to apologize to curious listeners, who may have seen Aborym’s past works compared to Anaal Nathrakh and Blut Aus Nord and assumed Shifting was another misanthropic, industrial black metal romp.
But this is not industrial black metal. This is not black metal at all. This is what happens in an alternate universe where Illud Divinum Insanus is heralded as a rousing success and other extreme metal acts decide to follow suit. This is what happens when you binge on Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Rammstein and decide you can do your own take on mid-90s industrial rock, as long as you label it “experimental” and include enough guest musicians to run a Taco Bell. This is what happens when deviating from your roots goes terribly, terribly wrong.
In Shifting’s 47-minute runtime, there are a grand total of three good ideas. That’s right – three. I could literally count the number of good ideas here on one hand and I still wouldn’t have enough fingers up to jerk off with it. Accolades go to the Mogwai-esque piano that concludes closer “Big H,” the dirty minor-key riff in “Going New Places,” and the somewhat catchy, Trent Reznor-inspired chorus of opener “Unpleasantness.” In fact, despite its title serving as a fitting description for the album as a whole, “Unpleasantness” is the only wholly passable track here, with its pounding synthetic beats, industrial Rammstein-style riffs, and aforementioned half-decent refrain serving as a mildly promising opening.
Unfortunately, the remaining nine tracks wallow in the type of generic, uninspired, industrial rock tripe that went out of style with JNCO jeans and Limp Bizkit shirts. “Decadence in a Nutshell” is an early offender, combining a stomping pace with dissonant Mudvayne-style guitars, with some post-grunge wailing in the chorus that will make you wonder how many times you can punch yourself in the balls before losing consciousness. Follow-up “10050 Cielo Drive” attempts to drum up excitement with black metal rasps and industrialized blastbeats, but any hope of success is immediately destroyed by the weird children’s choir sample and the lyrical gem “If I start murdering people – there’ll be none of you left!” Tracks that aren’t outright cringe-worthy are simply dull and nondescript. Take “For a Better Past,” which after multiple listens I still can’t remember a single second of.
Shifting also suffers from an annoying pacing issue that stems from the bizarre choice of placing the six-minute atmospheric piece “Precarious” as the second song on the album. While the droning ambiance, whispered crooning, and melodic doom leads may have worked as a fine closer or penultimate track, placing it so early in the runtime saps a lot of Shifting’s momentum early on. On the plus side, the rich atmosphere on “Precarious” does showcase the records’ decent production. While built off a boomy and sterile modern rock sound, the DR is surprisingly high, and the mix features layers of wonky digital noises and wild guitar solos that at least makes things feel busy. The beats have plenty of electronic oomph and the riffs buzz like a farting Terminator which is fitting, I guess. Vocally, Fabban attempts to instill variety with styles ranging from strained whispers to wet rasps to alt-rock crooning. None are particularly noteworthy, but at least it prevents everything from sounding the same.
All that considered, is Shifting really a complete abomination? Actually, yes. Yes it is. If given the choice between listening to this album again and getting a prostate exam from Edward Scissorhands, I’d grab the Astrolube and grit my teeth. While I’ve often applauded bands that shrug off expectations and make the music they want to make, when the results are this abysmal it shows how important it is for groups to retain some self-awareness before making stylistic leaps like this. I began this review with an apology, but now I feel like it’s Aborym who owe the world an apology for inflicting this atrocity upon it. For anyone looking for the perfect soundtrack for their basement torture chamber, Shifting.negative may be a great purchase. Everyone else? Avoid like a MRSA-infested Hot Topic.