- Sarah Stubbs
DARK VISIONS: An interview with Aborted's Stefano Franceschini
Uncompromising perfectionism and relentless, compositional refinement may have long been business as usual for Belgian death metal fiends Aborted. But with their 10th landmark opus pushing this prestigious, violently pummelling craft into hitherto unheard new extremes of technical complexity and atmospheric horror, bass maestro Stefano Franceschini explains why the ingeniously ultraviolent ‘TerrorVision’ is about to redefine the face of extreme music as we know it.
“It’s 2018, and this year alone there’s been so many records coming out like the new Deicide, Hate Eternal, Revocation, Behemoth. So many legendary bands producing fantastic new music and it’s really hard, after 20 plus years of extreme music, to get out there and have the listener feel something new and different,” notes bass player Stefano Franceschini on the troubling predicament faced by many a veteran band struggling to source fresh, previously unexplored creative territories. But despite racking up a sizeable total of ten studio albums over the relentlessly evolving course of the past two decades, it seems that, with the release of 2018’s ‘TerrorVision’, the passage of time has served only to sharpen and perfect the five-piece’s violently energised trademark sound.Together with the inevitable natural process of maturing with age and ever-advancing experience, Aborted’s seismic leaps forward both in the blistering energy and atmosphere that underpins this stunning new record were achieved through no small amount of painstaking forward planning.
“Some of those songs were really hard to track and were among some of the most technical I’ve ever played,” the bassist recalls. “But I would say that the most motivating aspect of the whole writing, recording and production process was to have a long time to simply just sit on the songs and perfect them. We definitely took our time writing this new record. So we started working on songs and riffs last year, and what we usually did was one of us came up with some riffs and we’d put it out there and share ideas and views. Then the song would come back to us and this would present us with a new version of the song, so the whole process was constant. Even during the tracking process, we felt that some of the parts could still use some little changes here and there, so we definitely spent ages working on the finer details of the record until we were 100 per cent convinced and happy with the end result.”
As a band who’ve long been famed for their breakneck, signature feats of battering ultraviolence, it’s no surprise that such adrenaline-fuelled energies continue to figure prominently in the final, meticulously arranged mix. “I’m all about headbanging songs,” Stefano enthuses. “Like, the first one we premièred, ‘Squalor Opera’, has got this incredibly catchy riff and chorus and it’s got some really typical Aborted parts which I’m sure the old school death metal lovers will approve of. But at the same time we also wanted to give space for some new elements too.” Together with these heightened new extremes of dizzying speed and blistering technical complexity, ‘TerrorVision’ also witnesses a dramatic amplification of the deliciously dark atmospherics that first began to surface back on 2016 smash ‘Retrogore.’ From the blackly atmospheric flourishes that richly infuse the pummelling throes of ‘Vespertine Decay’ to the snaking, coldly majestic groove of ‘Altro Inferno’, every conceivable inch of this intensely sinister opus abounds with unimaginable darkness.
The bassist expands, “If you take songs like ‘Divine Impediment’ or ‘Termination Redux’ or even all the second part of all the songs from ‘Retrogore’, you definitely have this kind of gloomy and dark vibe so we really tried to up the game when it came to the atmosphere side of the record, but at the same time trying to keep the aggression and brutality of the trademark Aborted sound. We also tried to get a little deeper into melody too, but obviously still very much in a dark way. Take a song like ‘Exquisite Covinous Drama’ and you can definitely feel that there’s something very different than just simple, straight-up, in-your-face aggression. I would definitely say that this is the major change that we’ve tried and definitely wanted to achieve in this record. So yeah, a lot more darkness and vibe and atmosphere for sure.”
From 'TerrorVision's' chilling, Nightmare On Elm Street-style intro piece to the lurid, neon-lit visuals comprising its richly nostalgic cover art, few records showcase such an intense and easily identifiable love of ’80s horror filmmaking. But however richly laden with the iconic trappings and trademarks of this golden cinematic era, its accompanying lyrical themes and concepts centre on issues anchored firmly in the 21st century. Sourcing ample inspiration from the mindless, psychologically damaging evils of social media, ‘TerrorVision’s’ nightmarish, apocalyptic horrors can be traced back to an infinitely more gritty and realistic point of origin.
“It’s just the way the world’s kind of fucked up right now,” Stefano observes. “I think just the way we treat each other and the kind of world we live in. It really doesn’t help to have this massive body of biased, often hugely inaccurate information. The way to think about it is that it’s so very easy to spread, like a virus, like a disease, something that’s not true. Things have changed so much nowadays, because if you said something that was true but differed from general opinion back in the day, you could be either hanged or just burned like a witch. Whereas now, if you say something different to the masses, you just get shamed in public or out there on Facebook or Instagram, because all that matters now is getting likes or follows or whatever. It’s all about appearances.”
But with visionary artists like Franceschini and co. happily giving us more than a glimmer of hope for the foreseeable future of humanity, talk now turns to the altogether more optimistic matter of the band’s forthcoming European tour dates. “For the live shows, we’re aiming for a new production, so we can try to make this thing as big and different and huge as we…” the bassist halts mid-sentence momentarily. “Okay, sorry. Now I’m sounding like Trump which is not good at all but we will definitely try to work with and experiment with new things. The ultimate aim is to create the most complete and detailed live set that we ever did, both musically and visually so you’ve definitely got to be there.”
Catch Aborted live at The Dome, London on Monday 26 November
'TerrorVision' is out now on Century Media