Aborted – ManiaCult Review

There’s no such thing as a truly objective review so let’s get one thing straight: I fucking adore Aborted. Their brand of pulverizing death metal appeals to me on a primitive level and I’ve followed these Belgians for years. For the most part, I have enjoyed being reduced to DNA and endorphins every few years. And it’s that time again. 2018’s TerrorVision was good but it had some issues. Or rather it had one big issue. It just seemed to ramble on too long, which, for a band with grind sensibilities, isn’t optimal. ManiaCult is the definitive younger model. Deep down inside, you know it’s no different from your current flame. It dresses the same and probably won’t laugh at your awful jokes either. But the way those rotten eyes seem to glance over you… the way it flicks its sun-bleached hair with that lipless grin… You know you want it. And it wants you… dead.

For the uncultured, Aborted are fucking nasty. Traditionally, they play death-grind but their more modern albums seem to arbitrarily choose which of the two genres they learn into. TerrorVision’s constant was death metal but it also put emphasis on an occasionally blackened technicality. The results were capable but often mixed in their delivery. ManiaCult follows suit. Fortunately, it does so in rather more succinct fashion. While this eleventh album isn’t likely to usurp career-highlight Goremageddon or even more modern crushers like Retrogore, it makes one very healthy choice. Namely, it puts the big, bad-taste riff back at the top of the pile where it fucking belongs.

Opener “Verderf’s” sole purpose is to link TerrorVision and ManiaCult together stylistically. But as soon as the following title track explodes, my viscera makes that instinctive bid for freedom. This riff owes its entre existence to Dying Fetus but there can be no denying that Aborted wear it well. On the other hand, “Dementophobia” is an all-but thrash ripper with more breakdowns than my fragile ego. Guitarist Ian Jekelis is apparently determined to further his anti-neck agenda but he also busies himself with conjunctive tremolos and eerie passages on the more melodramatic cuts. Although these tracks certainly don’t want for efficacy, they do tend to inhabit most of the album’s second half, which creates a pacing issue. It also summons the dread beast homogeneity. A few too many of the songs swell with the same mood but soon bubble over into Aborted’s signature chuggery. It’s something of an identity crisis. When the the more expansive fare finds its mark however, it hits it hard.

“Drag Me to Hell” is a delight of darkly melodic crescendos. Ben Deurr of Shadow of Intent makes his presence felt here as one of the album’s many guest vocalists.1 The blackened signature, the vocal assault and the huge finale converge for a moment to be reckoned with. Closer “I Prediletti: The Folly of Gods” builds to similar heights. Sadly, after “Drag Me to Hell” and the excellent “Ceremonial Ineptitude,” we’ve mostly heard all it has to offer. Along with the instrumental irrelevance that is “Verblogen,” ManiaCult isn’t perfect. But genre and band-identity are key when it falls to defining our expectations. When I hear any new Aborted record, I expect monstrous riffs and a furnace of vocals stoked with limbs and lives. Sven de Caluwé remains one of the most diverse vocalists in extreme metal. Along with Julien Truchan (Benighted) and Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation), he can always be relied upon to deliver a clamour of ranged indecency. Together with Ken Bedene’s absolute tirade of blasts, ManiaCult scratches that itch bloody raw.

Aborted have long been heralded as kings of modern death metal. Their heart works in insalubrious symphonies that have inspired waves of new pedigree putrefaction. ManiaCult likely is not the album to transcend the ages. But for a band over 20 years into their career, their perpetual urgency must not go unrecognized. At its crux, ManiaCult still does what Aborted do best. It clamps us between its jaws and thrashes left to right, undoing one vertebrae after another. It just doesn’t do it any differently. And that’s fine by me. For a band of this caliber, I’m more than happy to sit back and allow myself to be summarily savaged. And you are too. So throw the album on and prepare your face for fragmentation. Just be aware you do so in lieu of overt originality.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: goremageddon.be | facebook.com/abortedofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 10th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Including Joe Bad of Fit For an Autopsy, Ryo Kinoshita of Crystal Lake and Filip Danielsson of In Reverence/Humanity’s Last Breath.
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