Reviewed: May, 2018
Released: 2018, Comatose Music
Reviewer: Lee Carter
One thing that you have to admire the likes of CANNIBAL CORPSE for is their longevity. Decades spent peddling the same tried death metal horror show has seen them elevated to amongst the genre’s most celebrated acts. With that, there comes a subtle deviation in their material: the bloody fast stuff in the likes of “Hammer-Smashed Face” and “Make Them Suffer”, to the more brooding grinds of “Evisceration Plague”. It offers a little something for everyone, so what of ABORTED FETUS, their slightly younger Russian cousins? What has their sixth offering, “The Ancient Spirits Of Decay” got to offer the genre?
To use a spectacularly thought-out metaphor wholly appropriate to the thematic preference the band plies, strong aspects of metal can be likened to the jump scare in horror films. A good horror film uses the jump scare to maximise impact; to really hammer home the terror the characters experience, the pinnacle of their fear must be built up to and released in one, often very bloody, fell swoop. A constant stream of the hacky-slashy murderer jumping out going “abloogy woogy woo” will lose its impact exceptionally fast and make for a very poor, boring film – one star.
Sadly, this is something that “The Ancient Spirits Of Decay”, ventures into after a time. Without shadow of a doubt, it’s a bruising album from start to finish; from the, frankly, terrifying song titles (“Roasted Alive In The Copper Bull’s Stomach” anyone?), down to the barrage of gargantuan riffs, double bass drumming and burp-of-Satan vocals. It’s a full-fledged assault on the ears and one that will delight fans of old school, uncompromising death metal. But where it seems to falter is on the variety that the record offers – there’s just not enough of it to keep the proverbial head above water.
There are a number of bands out there who’ve made exceptionally steady (sometimes even stellar) careers out of sheer bloody-mindedness and sticking to their core sound: AC/DC, CANNIBAL CORPSE, NILE, etc. But there just seems to be something a little bit amiss with ABORTED FETUS’ sixth offering; a certain quality that just seems out of reach while they adhere to the true formula that has served them so well down the years. Proper opener “Eaten By Pigs In The Trough” is, whilst a violent, headbang-inducing affair with enormously chunky riffs and SLAYER-ESQUE leads, the precedent by which the remainder of the album sticks to.
It’s only when the likes of “Flame Of Death”, closer “Follow Into The Darkness” and the radiant sunshine that is “Genital Torture By The Alligator Tongs” breathe into life that you’re brought back from the torpefying bludgeoning. The former two are calmer, cleaner and present an eerie quality that feeds into the earlier atmosphere building before the jump scare, something of which is perfectly encapsulated by the latter. It segues in darkly, bewitchingly before dropping a heavy, eviscerating trap upon you that begs to be heard and appreciated. The scarcity of this break in play makes it all the more noticeable and welcome, but there’re grounds to argue that “The Ancient Spirits Of Decay” leans too far the other way: unrelenting, merciless and barbaric.
At the end of the day, it’s all down to how you prefer your death metal: savage from end-to-end, or patient and precise. ABORTED FETUS know what they’re about and it’s a tried-and-trusted formula that they stick to, something of which works exceptionally well. But for a little more variety, it’s very much a case of blink-and-miss. Sure there’s light and shade with tempo changes and riffs that switch between furious down-picked chugs and frenzied tremolo runs, but the buck stops there. It’s a little one-trick-mind, but if all you want is a single, wild aural beating over the course of an album, you could do worse than “The Ancient Spirits Of Decay”.
1. The Wind Of Agonizing Spirits
2. Eaten By Pigs In The Trough
3. Drenched Eyes In Boiling Oil
4. Nailed To The Cross
5. Beheaded On The Guillotine
6. Cradle Of Revulsion
7. Cold Lake Of The Sinner
8. Flame Of Death
9. Rack Of Torment
10. Roasted Alive In The Copper Bull’s Stomach
11. Genital Torture By The Alligator Tongs
12. Iron Petals Of The Blasphemer’s Pear
13. Follow Into The Darkness
Alexander ‘Meatgrinder’ Andreev – Guitar
Sergey Shchapov – Bass
Sergey ‘Hammer’ Kulakov – Drums
Igor Stafeev – Vocals