Fans of warped avant-garde heaviness should know this industrial/electro black metal act inside-out, but if this is your first encounter with the band from the heart of Italy, beware: this final incarnation is the real thing. Along its now 17 year long career Aborym has attracted collaborations with the likes of Attila Csihar of Mayhem/Sunn O))) fame and ex-Emperor Bård “Faust” Eithun, just to mention the most iconic names. Happily adjusted into a slim-line formation comprising original member and mastermind Malfeitor Fabban on vox, synth and bass, hugely talented Hell:IO:Kabbalus on guitar and the aforementioned Faust on drums, Aborym managed to stun and excite the well weathered Season of Mist warlords when they were presented with this insane and layered new concept album!
Let’s start the analysis from a mundane angle.
The very aptly named “Psychogrotesque” boasts a great, meticulous production by Fabban, aided by Emiliano Natali of Fear No One Studios (Viterbo, Italy) and Marc Urselli of famed Eastside Sound Studios (NY). In spite of this, the album manages to maintain throughout scarily palpable levels of abject perversion drenched in truly malignant horror and overt twistedness (which, as you will see from the upcoming interview with the band, is far from being a mere shallow exercise aimed at shocking young and impressionable minds). Amongst the intoxicatingly dark miasma spread across the ten parts that make up the mastodonic single track of the album, we have the brilliance of daring and spitefully individual music which (glorifying the self-evolving true spirit of black metal) now well and truly transcends its niche genre: can these mere ingredients create a masterpiece? Fuck yes!!! All the melodrama that might have seeped through their (always exciting and barrier-crushing) previous releases has been gagged by bucketfuls of harshness, brutality and sickness copulating endlessly on a decaying bed of organic waste, digging deeper and farther into the most uncomfortable reality of the human condition. And such scenarios demand the wide and fearless employment of the darkest expressions of music in general, naturally executed with both skill and forward-thinking eclecticism. And so Aborym’s creative horizons spread like a gargantuan arachnid’s web effortlessly linking up space-time warping: from an indestructible black metal core closely intertwined with thoroughly modern electro-industrial cyberpunk (from techno to D’n’B), like Indiana Joneses of the future we stumble into archetypes such as prog, jazz and – of course – classical music, all duly subjected to careful, almost loving Aborymization. But the appreciation of this work, a story set in a mental hospital, also firmly rests on the fact that it is a brutally honest conceptual metaphor of our ill society that punches right in the stomach those who treat music as a shallow fairground for futile ego-trips. The intricate and visionary lyrics include, by the way, passages from Comte de Lautreamont’s “Les Chantes de Maldoror” and from our favorite poet, William Blake.
Let’s now get into the nitty-gritty of the ten musical parts.
For once the customary ambient instrumental that opens most albums these days actually has a purpose as Part I provides the blood-chilling, skin-crawling setting to the story. You hear the disgustingly realistic buzz of huge bluebottle flies feasting on human feces and grime, while vague disturbing moans and hospital-like noises echo in the background. Then in Part II the mayhem begins as glorious, deadpan and brutal as anything, pushed forth by an awesome Faust on fire behind the skins! The industrial-gothic keyboards are firmly plunged into the background pouring psychotic gloom into the mix, but at the same time letting the deranged, bile-soaked vocals (by Fabban and legendary guest Karyn Crisis of crossover/hc Crisys fame) and the majestically evil cacophony of the guitars prevail. Part III is a wall of sound that spells no-fucking-compromise in spite of its melodrama, also thanks to the fantastic pummeling that has been cleverly produced in quite an organic way rather than in the soul-less fashion of a machine-gun. This leads to Part IV which, with an extremely unsettling performance by Malfeitor Fabban, defines one of the most memorable moments of my 2010 musical journey so far: a jewel of pure morbid sickness for those who understand the Italian language but surely a vividly perverted experience for all – “I porci quando mi vedono vomitano…” (“Hogs vomit when they see me…”)! A real open-brain autopsy on society’s collective madness.
The genius continues with the first wicked saxophone solo of the album by Marcello Balena introducing Part V, a threateningly slow anthem showcasing Fabban’s eclectic vox that fills your chest with poisonous vapors until you are suffocating. Joy oh joy – after some deep Teutonic-Goth vocals, Part VI imparts more delirious saxophone delight, then a cool guitar interlude, which reminds me of certain obscure, drugged-up and totally awesome 70s Italian prog, precedes more viscerally evil vocals from Karyn. That’s also where a sample from a dusty record of obscure lirica suddenly illuminates the grotesque madhouse landscape with a decadent surge of nostalgia, but it is only a mirage: the track wriggles into insanity again with a deranged flash-solo by Hell:IO:Kabbalus, plunging once more into the swamp of the most degraded corners of the human psyche.
The feeling of psychotic coldness is by now almost unbearable, but suddenly Part VIII kicks in with its explosive dark techno march! Wow: fuck coldness and horror, here for 2 minutes and a sprinkle of seconds we can dance our brains out and with complete relish, as there is still not an ounce of shallowness about, just pure sardonic lunacy! Another short instrumental part links up the techno moment to the epic end to the album: it is the only perhaps slightly unconvincing moment of the entire album, especially the corny carillon bit at the end, although the intriguing guitar noises by Davide Tiso (Ephel Duath) keep my concentration in a tight grip. And Part X does pounce in like a demented zombie-monster, displaying the best of the excellent guitar work on the album: varied and layered, it goes from riffage that is as acrid as vomit yet as heavy as any Neurosis outpour, to an array of über-dark metal solos that are fluid, trippy and frankly disturbed, respectively by Blood Tsunami’s Peter Michael Kolstad Vegem, The Hour of Penance’s Giulio Moschini and Hell:IO:Kabbalus. The soaring epilogue sees Karyn shredding her throat to William Blake’s “Human Abstact”. Now, at this point you’d be left aghast trying to make sense of what you’ve just heard, and that’s when you’ll be hit by the last surprise of the album: after about 4 minutes of total silence an eerie, chilling, highly ritualistic outro pops its ugly face from the darkest chambers of Aborym’s mind. The nightmare is now over… or was it all real?
“Psychogrotesque” is here to break the mould with Aborym’s past, but also to set some standards. These are musicians who have been flying high the torch of open-mindedness and stubborn individualism within the often sectarian and fashionable universe of extreme metal for many years. Malfeitor Fabban, a hard man who tells me has received many insults in his life (and therefore coped well enough when I accidentally called him “cute”) deserves a special mention for being in 2010 still at the helm of a grotesquely exciting project in spite of all odds. And with Bård’s drumming, sensational as always, pushing the work to incredible places when he takes off into pure black metal territory, and the rich guitar-work that has poured from the ripe sacks of newcomer Paolo Pieri aka Hell:IO:Kabbalus (who shares the composing duties with Fabban) there can only be one happy ending in sight.
Packed in a blood-chilling old-school cover by Fabban which, like Aborym’s own music and lyrical content, does not at tall comply with the current trends, “Psychogrotesque” is as infectious as the Great Plague and keeps growing on me at a worrying rate. Right now it’s all the medication I need.
Release: 8th November 2010
Label: Season Of Mist
Avantgenre: Prog-Psycho-Cyber Black Metal
Duration: 666 Minutes
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/aborym666
Review online since: 23.10.2010 / 15:55:18
01 – Psychogrotesque I