Coathanger Abortion – Plan C Review

Yep, there’s that cover. Go ahead and soak it in. One more time? Ok, let’s start the review. This year has been a crazy one for death metal. Autopsy, Goatwhore, Graceless, Undeath, Immolation and Sijeel are among the dozens of bands that have splattered their putrid sounds across 2022. I had never heard of Tennessee’s Coathanger Abortion before plugging my nose and taking the plunge of shame into the AMG promo sump. For all I knew they were a bunch of fun-loving Christian fundamentalists with a deep sense of irony. Turns out they’re not. They’re a quartet of southern fried sickos who love classic death and grindcore. Can Coathanger Abortion stand shoulder to decapitated shoulder with the latest batch of death metal heavyweights? It will take more than a repulsive cover and cheeky title. Let’s scratch beneath the uterine lining and see what’s gestating.

There’s an uneasiness to Plan C that goes beyond the subject matter. The music sputters, shifts and spins in a way that creates a sonic anxiety. The ever-changing drums and dissonant guitars rarely plant firmly in any one spot. It’s a bit like having a bad trip and hoping things will feel calm soon. But they don’t. If you’re looking for rollicking, fun death metal that chugs along with melodic cohesion, Coathanger Abortion probably isn’t your body bag. If you’re a fan of dissonant, musically challenging technical death metal bands like Gorguts or Artificial Brain, you’ll probably enjoy Plan C. For purists, there’s plenty of olde skool vibes but be prepared to be thrown for a loop every thirty seconds. I get some quality early Carcass, especially on the first few tracks, and the album finishes off with a slamming cover of Broken Hope’s “Cannibal Crave.” In between, it’s a hack and slash free for all.

The songs on Plan C tend to be long by death metal standards. The opener, “What Lies Beneath,” clocks in at over seven minutes. This extended play rarely works in the band’s favor and many songs suffer from inconsistencies. “Corpsewood” (probably best the lyrics are indecipherable) starts lackluster but has an absolutely brilliantly moshable mid-song breakdown that leads to a more satisfying second half. “Silent Screams” is another mishmash with a middle section that cooks. “Dead Walking” is an odd earworm that’s instantly recognizable for its opening riff and bass work but becomes obnoxious after repeated listening. Most songs effortlessly jump from riff to riff. Sometimes it’s a fun ride and sometimes it feels like a waiting game for the good parts. The band might have benefited from aborting some of the lesser material in favor of shorter but stronger songs.

Plan C is the band’s best-sounding record but that’s not saying a lot. 2018’s split with Sacrificial Slaughter and Rottenness, “The Hate Divide,” sounded like it was recorded through the window of a YMCA locker room. The band’s previous two records felt sufficiently grindy in the mids but lacked the chunky bottom end to make them truly heavy. With Plan C, the band finally has the production to make you feel like you’re suffocating beneath a mountain of tender young flesh. The sound is pure death with grinding guitars, relentless but tight drumming and flatulent bass sounds. The musicianship is top notch with syncopated grooves that sputter like a severed artery. The vocals are from what I like to call the school of “sodomized pig squeals.” Mind you, I’ve never heard a pig being sodomized, I just imagine that’s what it would sound like.1 Bottom line: if you like death metal, you’re going to like how this record sounds. Whether you love it will depend on how you feel about the compositions.

Coathanger Abortion don’t play anything safe. From the cover to the bloody contents within, you get 45 minutes of provocative and unsettlingly frantic death metal. They’ve laid down some challenging compositions with brutal musicianship. Parts will rock your face off, but the cohesion isn’t always there. I like to think Coathanger Abortion is providing a public service. Kids these days with their plastic coat hangers just won’t understand what parents of unwanted children had to go through back in the day when we hung our shirts on wire hangers. Thank goodness we have this band to preserve the sound and feel of the experience. If that’s what you’re looking for, punch play.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 319 kbps mp3
Label: Comatose Music
Releases Worldwide: October 21st, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Truth Detector says: LIES! – Steel
« »