A Frenetic, Tiring Pastiche
Aborted are an international heavy metal band with members spanning multiple countries and continents. They are also a band whose sound spans a number of subgenres. Their latest full-length, The Necrotic Manifesto, is an energetic parade of heavy metal styles, churned out with an intensity and restlessness that is both impressive and exhausting.
The Necrotic Manifesto establishes its themes right off the bat with an introduction titled “Six Feet of Foreplay.” There is a sample of a grave being dug, a horror movie soundtrack swells in, and screams ring out in the distance. A voice claiming to be “Pain” addresses the listener directly. Immediately after, “The Extirpation Agenda” lays out The Necrotic Manifesto’s musical template. The songs are fast and furious, intricately crafted and heavily varied. There’s blasting grind, chugging death, and galloping thrash. There are groovy, head-nodding half-time breakdowns and delightful neoclassical guitar solos that are as exquisite as they are incongruous.
Billed as death grind, Aborted have the blast-beats and speedy riffs down, but possess little of grindcore’s rawness or brevity (grind hearkens back to punk rock in that way). In fact, the sound of the album is one of polished maximalism. Production-wise, there is a bigness to the sounds of The Necrotic Manifesto that is reminiscent at times of Strapping Young Lad. Drummer Ken Bedene’s double bass runs are impressively, impossibly fast and even. However, they’re so pervasive that they become almost an abstraction. Vocalist Sven de Caluwé yells, screams, growls, howls, and screeches all over the album. He’s not shy about layering his vocals or tracking his many vocal approaches across verses in overlapping cascades. It sometimes sounds like there are three or four Caluwés on one song.
Ultimately, the songs on The Necrotic Manifesto are impressive, but they just aren’t very endearing. There are too many parts, interchangeable and flashed quickly before the listener like card tricks. Yes, there are songs like “Coffin Upon Coffin” and “Chronicles of Detruncation” that flow well and have memorable parts. “Die Verzweiflung” stands out for being slower-paced (and sung in German), and album closer “Cenobytes” has an epic, ambitious feel to it. However, the others feel like anonymous, pummeling barrages of musical information and technical prowess that fail to coalesce even upon repeated listens.
The Necrotic Manifesto would be a better album if Aborted had picked their favorite parts and given them some room to breathe and develop. To be frank, technically masterful heavy metal bands are a dime-a-dozen nowadays—it’s the intangibles that count. By their songwriting and production choices, Aborted have perhaps unwittingly created a distance between themselves and the listener. Even when screaming about cannibalism and sexual putrefaction and playing faster than seems humanly possible, a band still needs to connect with the open-minded fan and show them something unique. The Necrotic Manifesto does not quite succeed in that regard. What Aborted have done here is impressive to watch, but hard to feel.