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  • Review by Faye Coulman

REVIEWED: Aborted - 'La Grande Mascarade'

From the frantic, undiluted aggression of 1999 classic ‘The Purity of Perversion’ to the violently eviscerating strains of 2014’s ‘The Necrotic Manifesto’ and 2016 smash ‘Retrogore’s’ tensely sinister, ink-black atmospherics, the past 25 years have seen Aborted undergo no shortage of devilishly inventive stylistic shifts and adjustments. Indeed, with a steady regularity of output and unrelenting dedication to the constant refinement of their joyously brutalising craft, it’s long been clear that, for founder Sven de Caluwé and co., nothing but the very finest standards of sonic extremity will suffice. And with its unprecedented extremes of brutalising energy, coldly insidious menace and mind-bending technical ingenuity, it was undoubtedly 2018’s ‘TerrorVision’ that elevated these extreme metal mavericks to fresh heights of genre-obliterating brilliance. Which then logically begs the question of precisely how follow-up EP ‘La Grande Mascarade’ might possibly go about beginning to progress this blistering, critically applauded formula.

First off, let’s be clear on one crucial, fundamentally underpinning point: for all the inevitable links between any newly released body of work and its immediate predecessor, ‘TerrorVision’ is, without question, its own distinctly separate and unique artistic entity. From every inch of its ghoulish, neon-drenched cover imagery to its lithe, madly accelerating guitar lines and slamming subterranean grooves, this darkly apocalyptic slab is a product of a very particular set of creative conditions now wholly divorced from the present state of things. True, forthcoming EP ‘…Mascarade’ unsurprisingly carries forward with it all the frantically incandescent energy and atmosphere we’ve come to expect from this wondrously ultra-violent collective, but it’s also audibly and assuredly its own uniquely orchestrated beast. And what a deliciously twisted work of wickedness it is.

From the moment newly unleashed single ‘Gloom and the Art of Tribulation’ erupts into a frenzied implosion of tortured, vocal cord-liquefying shrieks and battering hyperblasts, there’s an audible freshness and vigour about this exceptionally vicious three-tracker from the get-go. With all the brutal viscerality of deeply embedded meat-hooks ripping asunder tenderly unyielding morsels of flesh, there’s a tantalising wealth of lacerating fretwork to be savoured here in ghoulishly expansive abundance. Manipulating its frantic flurries of scalpel-edged arpeggios with insane speed and surgical precision, ‘Serpent of Depravity’ witnesses an increasing darkness and complexity of design that’s richly laden with deliciously sinister and suspenseful atmospherics. From crippling slabs of contorted bass though to artfully understated atmospheric subtleties that palpably ooze cold-blooded malice, it’s with tautly controlled pacing and seamless cohesion that these technically adept players handle a mind-boggling multitude of sonic elements and atmospheres.

Illustrating similarly nimble and fluid ease in melding together its various brutally crippling, meticulously technical and densely luxuriant musical dynamics, EP closer ‘Funereal Malediction’ showcases prestigious levels of compositional depth and ingenuity. With its every lacerating lick and coldly abrasive accent of tremolo displaying impeccable, crystalline clarity above a turbulent undertow of pulverising bass, this track, again, illustrates Aborted’s masterful talent in balancing aggression and carefully layered complexity to darkly explosive effect. And be it in its violent implosions of pummelling percussion, blackly contorted grooves or insanely agile lines of lacerating fretwork, ‘La Grande Mascarade’ is a deliciously dark and tantalising taste of things to come.

'La Grande Mascarade' is out 17th April via Century Media

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