Matt here. Tasked with reviewing the new Aborted material, I felt it would be wise to squeeze in another glorious example of brutal European metal along side it. The Belgian deathgrinders released their latest EP around the same time as Norway and Portugal’s finest slammers dropped a split record. It’s time to sharpen your axe, wipe the rust off that dirty hook and, of course, bring out the hammers.
Aborted – Bathos
Belgium’s busiest brutal bastards, Aborted continue the tradition of releasing new music every year with the two tracks of Bathos. This follows on from last year’s very well received Retrogore and the Termination Redux EP that followed swiftly on from The Necrotic Manifesto. Yes, they really have been busy. Two decades and change into a career that never looks like faltering, the death metal is oozing with class and the grind is as rampant as ever, but like Termination Redux before it, this new spin shows small tweaks to the bands sound.
While tech-death might have been the talk of the town the last few years, Aborted have managed to keep the widdling and diddling of the genre out of their own technically proficient performances. Lo and behold, “Bathos” bleeds in from a wash of feedback and judders from side to side with, god forbid, a tech-death feel. The riffs leap around the fretboard and skip strings like kids with a jump rope, but thankfully the Aborted sound never disappears. Sven de Caluwé barks militant orders over the same furious blasts and bludgeoning breaks that everyone wants and needs from these guys. The tech-death flourishes are just that; flourishes. Aborted won’t be signing for Unique Leader any time soon!
The second of two tracks, “Fallacious Crescendo”, is just about as perfect a representation of Aborted as one could wish for. The big, creeping string bends in the solo section and the quick break into a lumbering, grooving death metal riff are picture perfect. This track does introduce some symphonic elements underneath the body of the closing third, with strings and keys reminiscent of The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Ritual. Again, these don’t take away from Aborted’s sound but add just a little bit of flavour. Like the tech-death moments on “Bathos”, these ideas are moulded into Aborted’s performances organically, there’s no jarring changes or anything present and Bathos serves as a great reminder of why these guys are the best in the biz. Hopefully these ideas are fleshed out even further in the next full length.
Kraanium/Analepsy – The Kraanialepsy Split
2017 saw Norwegian brutal death outfit Kraanium tragically lose their frontman Martin Funderud. Funderud was with Kraanium from their inception in 2001 and was a huge figure in the brutal death scene. Before he passed away he recorded the vocal tracks for this split with Portuguese death titans Analepsy. It’s a fitting tribute to the vocalist that his vocals hit peak performance on this material, alongside the best sounding Kraanium material ever put to tape. Analepsy are no slouches either, this year’s Atrocities From Beyond is easily up there with the best extreme releases of the year and quite rightly so. The Kraanium tracks just hit that extra bit harder.
While they have maintained a loyal following through the years, Kraanium have always released nasty sounding records. It’s slam and it’s meant to be rough, but on this split there’s a real body to the guitars, bass and drums. The tone is still verging on gutter sludge and the snare sounds like an executioners axe hitting stone but it gives the full metal attack more weight than one person should carry. “Ritualized Defleshment” and “Double Barrel Penetration” are the two highlight reel tracks, full of gravity blasts, sub bass drops and hammer clutching mosh riffs. It’s brutal death metal so there’s no pomp or frill anywhere. Obviously. Every pit opening riff and beatdown delivers on the promise of sadistic violence. Funderud’s vocals are famously guttural and, even in a world of toilet bowl sounds, have always been a cut above the rest. His belches and bellows serve as another blunt instrument to attack the listener with. They’ll be sorely missed.
The Analepsy tracks are great too, but are essentially more of the same as found on Atrocities From Beyond. Their brand of brutal death is more technical, with more intricate riffs and arrangements. Ultimately their goal is the same though – cause utter destruction with voice, strings and percussion. They maintain the overwhelming level of brutality that this years full length offered up but these could effectively be B-sides. Not a real complaint though. It’s always a pleasure to get beaten around the head with slam.
The Kraanialepsy Split might yet be the most punishing and direct extreme metal release featured on any music blog this year. Genre pitfalls are present; there’s the usual – and questionable – hyper sexual violence present in the Kraanium material but that’s a given and should always be taken with a fistful of salt anyway. Horror samples (Rob Zombie’s 31?) pop up like infected genital warts while the split is book ended by a brutal introduction and a more atmospheric closer. What would you expect, really? It’s not perfect. It’s not pretty. It is however a fucking fantastic send off for one of extreme metal’s biggest voices. RIP Martin Funderud.