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  • Interview by Faye Coulman

Brutal death metal mob Aborted discuss making of delectably gore-stricken, cinematic slab 'Vault of Horrors'

With their inimitable blend of pulverising, frantically paced brutality and morbidly entrancing, ink-black atmospherics, Aborted is a sonic entity that’s long been liberally drenched in darkness, with their more recent studio output delving increasingly deep into a thoroughly disquieting host of all too tangible real-world horrors. But having more than abundantly mined every conceivable inch of this once richly inspiring but incredibly bleak subject matter, frontman Sven De Caluwé explains why a change of pace in both creative direction and mindset was so integral to the realisation of brutally energised and inventive new smash ‘Vault of Horrors’...

“It was important for me to step away from that and just to get back in touch with the essence of why I'm doing this and, for me, that's fun,” reflects Aborted main man Sven de Caluwé on the significant shift and realignment of creative values that proved so instrumental in the making of newly-unleashed opus ‘Vault of Horrors’. Having long resided in decidedly dark and visceral sonic territories notoriously teeming with Lovecraftian ghouls and graphic scenes of slasher-worthy carnage, suffice to say the Belgian death metal squad have never shied away from the darker facets of the genre since forming way back when in 1995. Looking ahead altogether more current studio output, and the recent, unrelenting slew of traumatic world events we’ve since undergone inevitably found its way into De Caluwé's delectably vicious, blastbeat-stricken compositions.

Penned around such incredibly pertinent, real-world issues as the enslavement of humanity to mind-numbing digital devices and the frighteningly prevalent extremes of wilful ignorance, hatred and division that increasingly define our way of being circa 2024, both 2018’s ‘TerrorVision’ and 2021’s ‘ManiaCult’ sourced ample inspiration from these exceptionally bleak and turbulent modern times. But while this brilliant and bitterly incisive social commentary undoubtedly played a more than prominent role in bringing to fruition these two towering works of frantically energised extreme metal, by 2023 it was abundantly apparent that the songwriter had all but exhausted this particular thematic avenue of inspiration.

“I mean, I've done it on the previous record and I do believe that everything I talked about in the last record still pretty much stands on where we're at right now, unfortunately, as a society,” Sven explains. “So I definitely didn't feel the need to revisit that. There's enough things all around us in life that do nothing but create division and depression and dependency in our lives. Everyone's busy chasing the dopamine dragon and whatnot... I mean, let's be honest, we've been living in Europe here and we've had more than enough shit tossed at us in the last couple of years and I think it's good to step away from that and have a band or music or a record be something that contributes something positive to your life. And for me, I wanted to step away from anything that is real-life or anything that brings that kind of negativity and focus on stuff that had influenced us while we were growing up and mainly just represent who we are. We're a very brutal band, but at the same time we're a bunch of goofy idiots and I think the ’80s world of horror and whatnot is a perfect way to encapsulate who we are. So I just wanted to go with that and have some fun with movies that I've always enjoyed and bring that over and make the band and the record be something that can connect people and make people have a good time rather than lecture.”

With a mindset fully recalibrated and brimming with boundless creative energy, 12th studio album ‘Vault of Horrors’ sees a pronounced amplification of the classic horror influences that have long formed a pivotal part of Aborted’s uniquely configured sonic identity. Interweaving these iconic cinematic trappings within a meticulously layered formula in which sheer, synapse-scorching aggression, deathly atmosphere and tautly controlled restraint coalesce to create rich and relentlessly compelling listening, De Caluwé and co. entered into the writing process with a clear and decisive vision for precisely what they wanted to accomplish this time around.

“We definitely wanted it to be different from the last couple records, so that was an important thing. We wanted it to be, I think, everything on 12, if that makes sense, but at the same time kind of thread that balance between where it's almost too much, but it's not. So we're kind of dialling back when we think we should in order to keep things fresh and maintainable and still have some melody in there. And the main thing that I've been wanting to do for a long time was try to find a good way to kind of intertwine horror into extreme death metal, not just on a concept level, but also directly. So some of these songs actually have some of the notes that are used in the original soundtracks or, let's say, bring cinematic sounds into the record. We tried to follow what the original soundtracks did to kind of elevate the song to be more than just a brutal death metal song.”

With reverential nods to such genre-defining classics as ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘The Mist’ and ‘Return of the Living Dead’, ‘Vault of Horrors’ comprises a deliciously sinister homage to the horror genre and its rich, ever-expanding legacy of nerve-shredding cinematic terrors. Factoring in both more widely publicised titles and lesser-known cult classics into the mix, ‘Vault…’ draws from an equally diverse array of extreme metal talent with stellar guest appearances from the likes of Fleshgod Apocalypse, Ingested and Despised Icon, to name but a few. And like the ghoulish amalgam of bloodily entangled body parts comprising its wondrously graphic cover art, theirs is a collectively monstrous manifestation of innumerable legends, energies and influences.

Of the thinking that prompted both his choice of horror titles and special guest appearances, Sven explains, “I tried to have a balance, not only with the horror movies, but also with the guests as well. There are some people that we've known for a really long time and that are really established in the scene and then there's some newer names or some lesser-known names. The same applies to the horror movies, really. So, come to think of it, I think we tried to kind of go 50/50 on it. There's some really known horror films. Obviously I like all of them, and then there's some stuff that maybe the younger kids might not be super-familiar with. We wanted to have something that strikes a familiar chord with a lot of people with obviously the very iconic known ones and then, next to the music, there's something additional for younger people to discover. These slightly more obscure films, for example.”

From ‘Dreadbringer’s’ breathlessly energised artillery of synth-laden atmospherics and airily lacerating licks through to the staccato-laden hyperblasts and scalpel-keen hooks of ‘The Shape of Hate’, ‘Vault of Horrors’ makes for an exceptionally hostile yet intricately layered assault on the senses. With this gore-stricken, fiendishly inventive slab having finally been made full available for public consumption, the summer of 2024 is guaranteed to bring with it a truly electrifying slew of live shows, kicking off here in the UK with the band’s intensely awaited stint alongside US wrecking crew Carnifex.

“Without giving away too much stuff, we are really digging deep into the whole horror aspect and we're trying to make it into a show,” Sven reveals of these intensely cinematic forthcoming performances. “Since we're not headlining on this occasion, we're limited a little bit in what we're doing, but we have a lot of cool ideas and there's going to be a lot of the new stuff being played. But you'll see… We have a lot of pretty nifty tricks up our sleeves, and it should be a really good time.”

'Vault of Horrors' is out now via Nuclear Blast


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