Ah, Aborted. Anytime a new album from these Belgian sickos drops, the tomes of death metal get yet another sure-to-be quality entry. Nothing they've released in their 20+ year career as a band has been anywhere near subpar, though of their albums are certainly more memorable than others. What's most impressive is that Aborted has been able to remain one of the most consistently solid death metal bands in the scene despite being cursed with an ever-revolving line up. Though frontman Sven "Svencho" de Caluwe remains the sole original member of Aborted, he always manages to round up the absolute best musicians, and with their last album, The Necrotic Manifesto, they really found a sweet spot.
This line up has, thank Lucifer, returned once again for the band's ninth album, Retrogore (sans guitarist Danny Tunker, who was replaced by former Abigail Williams guitarist Ian Jekelis) and well, folks, there's no sugarcoating this one: Retrogore will grind your face into a thousand pieces and then pulverize what little remains. The ninth album from these deathgrind stalwarts is unabashedly the best of their entire career (yes, even better than Goremageddon) and is the sonic equivalent to a merciless flaying, in the best way possible. Most of all, Retrogore is just so much damn fun to listen to.
Like the opening scene of an über-gory slasher flick, the unassuming "Dellamorte Dellamorte" opens Retrogore, before the total gorefest that is the title track floods the listeners ears and captivates like a snuff film; unrelenting in its execution, yet impossible to turn away from. The song's over-the-top riffing, maniacal vocals and frantic blasts make this one of the fastest and most insane songs Aborted has ever laid to tape, and serves as the perfect appetizer for the savage, cannibalistic experience that is Retrogore. The savageness continues with "Whoremageddon" and its shrieking, horror-tinged melodies, and honestly, doesn't let up the whole way though. Retrogore is not an album for the faint of heart; there are no quiet interludes or experimental prog odysseys, just totally decimating, violent, abso-friggin'-lutley badass death metal.
Retrogore truly is an album of "bests" for Aborted. It's the best produced record the band has ever put out (working with Kristian Kohlmannslehner was a great decision) featuring some of the best songs the band has ever written, capped by the absolute best performances ever heard on an Aborted record. Guitarists Mendel bij de Leij and Ian Jekelis are one hell of a duo and churn out killer riff after riff all the way throughm, not to mention skin-searing solos. Bassist JB van der Wal holds down the low-end with an equally impressive performance, but the real highlight of Retrogore (besides Svencho, of course) is skinsman Ken Bedene. This album will single-handedly be his claim to fame for being one of the most insanely technical and precise death metal drummers on the entire scene, and his totally inhuman performance adds a great shock factor that keeps the listener on their toes. Last but certainly not least, Svencho, as always, gives a terrifyingly great performance behind the mic, and furthers his claim to being the best and most recognizable death metal vocalist around.
Speaking of vocals, it's impossible to talk about Retrogore without mentioning the killer guest spots the band managed to get. Julien Truchan of Benighted, Jason Keyser of Origin, David Davidson of Revocation and Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation all lend their shredded pipes to Retrogore, and none of their spots feel forced in any way. In fact, the songs on which each of them appear feel like they were written with their specific vocal presence in mind, especially in the case of the latter two. Travis Ryan fits in perfectly with the blackened deathgrind and stuttering grooves of "Divine Impediment," and the twisted, off-kilter riffing of "Coven of Ignorance" sounds like a Revocation song as written by Aborted, making David Davidson's tormented shriek the liver to this song's chianti.
As always, Aborted take no liberties when it comes to the classic horror movie samples sprinkled throughout Retrogore, and in case the name of the record didn't give it away, the horror themes are more prevalent here than ever before. With song titles such as "Whoremageddon," "Bit by Bit," and "The Mephitic Conundrum," you can bet blood, gore and all things disgusting invariably creep their way into all of these songs, which is what makes Retrogore so much fun. This a totally solid and legitimate death metal record, but it's also one that doesn't take itself too seriously. Some may be taken aback by just how unrelenting Retrogore is, but that's the point. It's shocking in the same way that a '80s B-horror film is, and that's just the way Aborted want it. Step into the delightful insanity that is Retrogore and be reminded of why you fell in love with death metal in the first place. BLEGH!