Reviewed: February 2009
Released: 2008, Century Media
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
Prior to STRYCHNINE.213, I was wholly unfamiliar with rising Belgian death metal band Aborted. Musically falling somewhere between grindcore, melodeath, touches of progressive, and plain old death metal, I’ll give Aborted credit for carving a unique sound in a crowded field. Their shtick revolves around exceptionally gory lyrics detailing the exploits of both real and imagined serial killers. Perhaps not too familiar with conversational English, many of their song titles require a dictionary to decipher, i.e. “Ophiolatry on a Hemocite Platter” and the profoundly disgusting “The Chyme Congeries” (a song featuring an individual who enjoys making “colonic masterpieces” in the rotting cavities of dug-up corpses.) For the curious, the former translates to “worshipping snakes with blood and decapitation” and the latter to “a gathering place of poo.” Utterly fascinating.
Intro “Carrion” is a great instrumental opener, with melodic guitars and menacing drums layered atop a detuned spoken vocal that may be a recording of Charles Manson (whose voice also starts off the sublimely creepy track “A Murmur in Decrepit Wits.”) Follow-up song “Ophiolatry on a Hemocite Platter” is possibly the most diverse track on the album, easily transitioning without skipping a beat from grinding blastbeats to harmonized guitars, a really evil-sounding flanged guitar melody, and a groovy solo. Some excellently voiced, elegant guitar solos sneak in and out throughout the album, with the outro on “135″ being particularly interesting.
Unfortunately, the variety and flexibility shown by Aborted on some tracks isn’t always present, with tracks like “Hereditary Bane” getting washed out by nondescript grunting and numbing blastbeats. Throughout the album, band founder Sven De Caluwe’s growls are unexceptional, belchy, and profoundly unintelligible. His grunts are so slurred and sloppy that following along with printed lyrics in hand was sometimes impossible. I believe that if one is going to bother with grammatically challenging lyrics as Aborted has done, the band owes it to the listener to attempt to make them vaguely comprehensible to maximize the impact of the song. Guitarist and backup vocalist Sebastien Tuvi occasionally doubles the lead vocal or is allowed to stand on his own, and his higher pitched shriek is also much clearer – all the better for screaming fun buzzwords like “ENTRAILS” and “DECAPITATE” with all the malevolent violence one could muster.
Fans of semi-technical death metal who can tolerate Mr. De Calwe’s been-there, done-that vocal style should find a good value in STRYCHNINE.213. Midpoint track “A Murmur in Decrepit Wits” is one of the more sinister, groovy death metal songs I’ve heard all year, and even during less exceptional songs there’s usually at least one gem of musical cleverness that pops up when least expected.
And now for the curious – a sample of the bizarre lyrics awaiting the listener in “The Chyme Congeries;” whether this sort of thing makes you ill, turns you on, or makes you laugh (as it did me,) I’ve got to give these Europeans an ‘A’ for effort in English.
“Purulent matter, my excess
The wrath of my pooper
A flatulent climax
My colonic masterpiece”
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2. Ophiolatry on a Hemocite Platter
4. Pestiferous Subterfuge
5. The Chyme Congeries
6. A Murmur in Decrepit Wits
7. Enterrement of an Idol
8. Hereditary Bane
9. Avarice of Vilification
10. The Obfuscate