Aborted Fetus – Pyramids of Damnation Review

A look at the tactless, tasteless, and obnoxious band name of Aborted Fetus should trigger in the reader a gut instinct that says “yep, this is death metal.” A look at the title of their latest full-length record – Pyramids of Damnation – reveals very little except that Aborted Fetus knows what a “pyramid of damnation” is, and that there’s more than one of said pyramid. Then again, titles that look cool and make no sense like Pyramids of Damnation are as much a staple of death metal as adding “-ectomy” or “-otomy” as a suffix to any given word is to brutal death metal. What’s not a staple of death metal, however, is a sixty-seven-minute record, which is what Aborted Fetus have presented us on Pyramids of Damnation.

Much can and should be said about the length of Pyramids of Damnation, and I’ll begin by noting that it’s eleven minutes longer than Hammerheart. The unbelievable length of Pyramids of Damnation is a major hurdle for Aborted Fetus which is exacerbated because the band operates in a stylistically narrow vein. Their sound takes the form of hardcore-infused brutal death of Internal Bleeding and the matter of Bolt Thrower and Jungle Rot with slight blackened touches via Demigod-era (i.e. pre-terrible) Behemoth. I should stress that this style is an appealing one and Aborted Fetus play it well. Introductory bulldozer “Pharaoh’s Disasters” sets a great tone, following this up ably with “Earth’s Bloody Punishment” which concludes on one of the better-quality Bolt Thrower riffs I’ve heard not written by those Britons.

What’s frustrating is, a la carte, I like a good number of the songs which comprise Pyramids of Damnation. “Execution by Toads” begins on a typical bit of Bolt Thrower melodicism and continues to pummel along at a moderate pace. There are blasts on the record, but they can’t fully drag the riffs out of the mire. This is a fine aesthetic choice, but it decreases the variety of the sixty-seven minutes of material and in turn produces diminishing returns through incessant repetition. The rather stock Egyptian-sounding interludes, first appearing as bookends of “Queen’s Prophecy,” break up the deluge of mere decency but have little if anything to do with the death metal surrounding them. The transition from these parts into death metal is just one of shock by contrast – much like when a death metal band arbitrarily uses “O Fortuna” to launch into an unrelated blast-fest.

Deadly riffs lurk like predators amidst a forest of decent but largely forgettable ones. “Abscesses on My Body” has a couple of them which get the spotlight for less time than they should before they’re transformed to tremolo runs of the same patterns, lacking the rhythmic appeal of the initial bludgeoning. A massive riff rears its head in the middle of “Locust of Death,” but the listener will find it hard to care at this point in the record because Pyramids of Damnation has already overstuffed them on the style. Lengthy albums aren’t bad in themselves – Akurion provides an example of a great one from this year – but an album is a cohesive whole meant to be taken in one sitting; we’re to clean our plates with each spin. When you’re full by the halfway mark and stuffed beyond wanting a wafer-thin mint by three-quarters, what was once tolerable, and perhaps even fun, begins to grate. Full-lengths aren’t meant to be broken up into separate listening sessions. And yet, that appears to be the only way Pyramids of Damnation can be truly enjoyable.

The big bass slide into a pummeling chugging Jungle Rot/Bolt Thrower riff in “Fear of Darkness” is another deadly moment, but once again it’s hard to care when the music has long surpassed the point of being grating, numbing wallpaper. Content must suit form, and this is where Pyramids of Damnation utterly fails. This was never meant to be a sixty-seven-minute record. In On the Art of Writing, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch famously stated the following: “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” Aborted Fetus did whole-heartedly obey their impulses with the torrent of tracks and multiple Egyptian-styled interludes presented here. What they failed to do – rather ironically as a brutal death metal band – is effectively murder their darlings or even exile them to an archipelago of splits and EPs. Pyramids of Damnation ends up as a death metal record that’s ruthless except where it mattered most.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 310 kbps mp3
Label: Comatose Music
Website: facebook.com/abortedfetusbrutality
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2020

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