My listening relationship with Belgium’s Aborted can best be categorized as “on again, off again.” While I consider the band’s 2003 album Goremageddon: The Saw and the Carnage Done to be a stone cold classic of the brutal death metal genre, I’ve found myself rather indifferent towards much of what they’ve released since. Sure, 2012’s Global Flatline was something of a return to form, but 2014 follow-up The Necrotic Manifesto came off as rather flat and generic.
But, I love Goremageddon so much that I’m always willing to give them a chance, which is what ultimately lead me to checking out Retrogore (well, that and the fucking awesome cover art), and I’m glad I did, because Aborted’s latest platter of splatter is easily the best thing they’ve done since that thirteen year old masterpiece.
You see, the thing that made Goremageddon stand out back in the day was the way in which it balanced a heaping helping of bulldozing brutality with a Heartwork-esque sense of melodicism; Aborted have wisely chosen to fully re-commit to that classic sound on Retrogore, and that’s what makes it one of my favorite death metal albums so far this year.
To say that Aborted have upped their songwriting game on Retrogore over their last few releases would be an understatement. Although vocalist Sven de Caluwe is all that remains of the lineup that created Goremageddon, the band does their damnedest to recapture that album’s vibe. In this they are largely successful; tracks such as “Termination Redux” “Divine Impediment” and the title track are scintillating slabs of brutal death metal perfection that can stand toe-to-toe with anything on that aforementioned classic album.
Although the album is called Retrogore, the production values are anything but retro. This is a thoroughly modern, state-of-the-art death metal album, though it thankfully manages to sound far more organic than The Necrotic Manifesto. The excellent recording quality allows Aborted’s penchant for writing ridiculously brutal yet memorable tunes to shine; this is likely one of the best sounding albums you’re going to hear this year; those into the murky, riffless-in-a-wind-tunnel death metal that’s become all the rage of late would be wise to steer clear. But, if you like your DM crystal clear, razor-sharp and pummeling as all get out, this just might be your album of the year.
With Retrogore, Aborted are back to the fine form that originally got me interested in them so many years ago. Whether or not this album will come to be held in the same esteem as the likes of Goremageddon and Global Flatline remains to be seen, but what is certain is that Retrogore is one of 2016’s best brutal death metal albums.