Review 2120 : Aborted – Vault Of Horrors – English

Aborted reopens its museum of horrors.

Formed in 1995 in Belgium and led since then by vocalist Sven de Caluwé (Bent Sea, Coffin Feeder, Fetal Blood Eagle, ex-Leng Tch’e… ), the band completed by Ken Bedene (drums, Aerith, ex-Abigail Williams), Ian Jekelis (guitar, ex-Abigail Williams, ex-Abysmal Dawn) and Daníel Máni Konráðsson (guitar, Ophidian I, Une Misère) unveils Vault of Horrors, their twelfth album, on Nuclear Blast, with one guest per track.

The band benefited from the help of Spencer Creaghan for the orchestrations, and said goodbye to Stefano Franceschini (Hideous Divinity, Hammer of Dawn), who left the band after the recording of the album to continue his doctoral research.

The band kicks off with Ben Duerr, vocalist for Shadow of Intent and Hollow Prophet, on Dreadbringer, a composition starting out ominous and then simply massive, whether on the overpowering riffs or the monstrous vocal duet. We have more technical parts on the piercing leads, while Condemned to Rot quickly becomes dissonant and disturbing, welcoming Francesco Paoli (Fleshgod Apocalypse) to add an extra touch of brutality, contrasted by a majestic solo. The sound becomes more oppressive on Brotherhood of Sleep, where the band is supported by Johnny Ciardullo (AngelMaker, Carcosa) to suffocate us under its fire only interrupted by touches of darkness into which moshparts perfectly fit. The apocalyptic final takes us to Death Cult, a true battlefield of incessant blast and jerky riffs where Alex Erian (Despised Icon) lends a hand, notably for a French break with Deathcore influences, before handing over to Matt McGachy (Cryptopsy) for a veritable outpouring of brutality yet to be heard on Hellbound. Although accustomed to the productions of both bands, I recognize that they hit very hard for this track, closely followed by the short but no less devastating Insect Politics where they are accompanied by Jason Evans (Ingested) to revive the Death/Grind roots by trampling us. The intro to The Golgothan lets us catch our breath for a brief moment, before the rhythmic beat hits us again, revealing the presence of Hal Microutsicos (Engulf) to accentuate the apocalyptic atmosphere with his raw growls. The track is also full of well-crafted lead parts, preceding the extreme speed of The Shape of Hate, where Oliver Rae Aleron (Archspire) spreads his shotgun vocals on the steamroller to help the band in their quest for devastation, before focusing on airy guitars, then moving on to Naturom Demonto, where they reunite with David Simonich (Signs of the Swarm). Their new guest helps to keep up the pressure with his furious interventions on the infernal riffs, before handing over to Ricky Hoover (Ov Sulfur) to make Malevolent Haze the final tableau where only violence reigns, framed by theatrical orchestrations where each element has one and only one aim: to annihilate us, before finally contemplating the beauty of the end after an explosive break.

Aborted has always stood for extreme violence, but the band just keeps getting better. More technical, heavier and more brutal on Vault Of Horrors the band shows us the pinnacle of their devastating art, while inviting ten vocalists with unique and quickly identifiable vocal personalities.


Version Française ?

Few questions to Sven de Caluwé, vocalist and creator of the band Aborted.

First of all, hello Sven, and thank you for your time! My first question is simple: how are you?
Sven de Caluwé (vocals): I’m not bad, you know, had a full day of work and I was doing this promo stuff so busy, busy.

How could you introduce the band Aborted without using the usual labels of musical styles like « Death », « Grind » and others?
Sven: All right. So the band literally sounds like if you take a huge ass bulldozer and you put a formula one engine in it and then you let that roll over a whole bunch of fucking people on the street, that’s literally what you would get. So I’d say that it’s brutal. It’s horrific, but it’s also fun.

Vault of Horrors, the band’s twelfth album, comes out next month. How do you feel about it? You had a world première at 70 000 Tons cruise, how is the feedback yet?
Sven: Well, so far, everything’s cool. So we’re very excited. So far, I think it’s doing really well with people so far. I mean, there’s always your haters, but if you don’t have haters, you’re doing something wrong. So, you know, there, it’s better to have some reaction than no reaction, to be honest If people are ambivalent about it, then that’s much worse than people hating it if you ask me. But we’re very excited, we’re very happy about the records. We think it sounds great. It was great to work together with a lot of really cool people on this album. We spent a lot of time writing it and recording it actually this time. The 70,000 Tons reactions are good. We did not only like a showcase where we played like four songs off the album on stage, stressful since we’re not a band that can rehearse. So we kind of had to rehearse and sound check in Mexico before. But it went well, people dug it. I think the reaction is really cool. And we also had an exclusive album listening party at the cruise. So there were a good amount of people in there, in the bar and you know, chilling and talking about the album. So it was, it was really cool. 

How would you sum up Vault of Horrors in three words?
Sven: Ok, let me think here. Brutal, fast, technical!

Vault of Horrors is coming out three years after Maniacult. Did you notice any changes or evolutions in your creative process?
Sven: I mean, there’s a new guy in the band so obviously there’s something new there. He wrote, I think 60% of the record. But in general, I wouldn’t say there’s a big change in how we write songs. Due to the fact that everybody’s, you know, located everywhere in the world, we get one guy in Iceland, one guy in Belgium and then two guys in California so we don’t really get to jam and do any of that stuff. So we do everything, you know, reproductions in Cubase, send ideas back and forth and then that’s it. The main difference I think with this record is that we actually spent, like, I wanna say a good 3-4 full days before recording with the producer at the studio, going over the songs, changing, you know, structures he was involved in, you know, making sure every song is as satisfying as it can get. So I think that was the main difference with, you know, previous albums. 

The album was created after the period of « break » linked to the covid, did the comeback of live shows have an impact on its creation?
Sven: No, but I would say that it definitely had an impact that we released an album during COVID. And we weren’t able to tour for it until, you know, everything was kind of over. Europe, I feel is still kind of recovering to be honest. Whereas in the US, everything has been active much more before, which is why we already did two US tours and we haven’t really toured Europe yet. So we will for this album and we’re also very excited to see, you know, how it’s gonna be. But very different Europe and US when it comes to post-COVID, to be honest. 

On the album, you have one guest singer for each track, which is quite a lot. How did you get in touch with each of the vocalists, and how did the collaboration go?
Sven: Well, we kind of wanted to do something unique as we do with every album, you know, we have the retarded pre orders usually or do something special. So this time around since every song is also about a different movie and it’s dealing, you know, sonically with very different universes I figured it would be cool to have, you know, emphasize that with extra guests. There’s been bands that have done, you know, the multiple guests on one song, but nobody’s ever done, at least in Metal, has done like a guest on every song in an album. So, you know, something new plus adding a lot more variation I think, because everybody sounds very different from each other. And all these people, I have been, you know, people that we’ve known for a really long time. I’ve been friends with some people even like Alex from Despised Icon, I have known since 2003, which is more than 20 years now. Crazy. And then, you have newer guys like Johnny (Ciardullo) from Carcosa or Hal (Microutsicos from Engulf). Those are, you know, people we’ve met the last couple of years, Ben from Shadow of Intent. So it’s a bit of a mixture of kind of like old friends and new friends. So it was very easy to set up honestly.

Even with the distance between the vocalist and so on?
Sven: Yeah there’s this crazy thing called the internet and you can do crazy shit on it, like send files and all that. You know, everybody recorded that they’re at their own thing. I think some people recorded at home, some guys went to the studio and then, then just sent everything to Dave Otero and he had a lot of work making everything, you know, fit together in the template because obviously every recording was different in settings or conditions or whatnot. So you had to kind of like prep it to fit whatever was there. But yeah, I mean, you know, internet. 

The band also collaborated with Spencer Creaghan on the orchestrations, making the album more majestic in my opinion. How did you work with him to give each track its own personality?
Sven: We gave him complete creative freedom, really, Spencer is someone who is the actual composer. He writes musical scores for horror movies, TV, shows and all that kind of stuff. He also had worked on Carnifex‘s last album. He got recommended to us by a friend called Brad and I just had a call with him and explained to him that we didn’t want anything orchestral or like Black Metal or Dimmu Borgir sounding and not that there’s anything wrong with Dimmu Borgir, of course, but we just wanted a specific different sound. We told him every song is about a different movie. So he tried to capture that essence and get the spirit of each song in there. So he really did his own thing and then accentuated parts and delved into the soundtracks of those movies to kind of like see what is going on in there and how can I make it fit in this band because some of the stuff was a little harder. Like if you look at Condemned To Rot, which was based on the movie Return of The Living Dead the soundtrack is very poppy Electro, but that is very outside of our world. We had to kind of make that work, but he did. So it’s really cool. He did an amazing job. We’re very happy with it.

I know this is a tough question, but do you have a favorite track on this album? Or the one that came most naturally to you?
Sven: I think that it really depends on the day, it changes you know, you listen to the album and you’re like your favorite track kind of switches. At least that’s how it is for me. I think at the time right now it’s probably The Shape of Hate because the Halloween theme is really well worked in there and it kind of has everything. It’s got heavy breakdown, it’s got super techie parts, it’s got melody and it’s got some super fucking shredding solo and then we got Oli from Archspire doing some insane fast fucking stuff that will probably kill me life. But yes and awesome. I like all of them !

How did you discover Extreme Metal, and more specifically the Death Metal scene at the time? In your opinion, what are the must-have bands on the current scene?
Sven: But how did I discover it is pretty easy, I mean. It came back in the day when Metal was pretty popular in the town that I came from or the high schools around here, so I became friends with a lot of people that were into that kind of stuff. And you kind of go from there: getting to know everything, CD stores were obviously a big thing in the past, you go every Friday after school with your allowance from your parents and see how many CDs you can buy that you like and discover things that way, pre internet. And how did I discover Death Metal? Well a bunch of friends of mine from the area had a local band and went to their practice and why not, that’s kind of like how I discovered Death Metal through local bands and then before and after practices we listened to the new albums that came out as a group. I still remember discovering Obituary with World Demise when it came out or Death, all that kind of stuff. It was a good time. It was cool.

You make me envious because when I discovered that I was seen like a freak and I’m just a bit younger than you. But it was in a small town.
Sven: You know, it’s different. Every period has its advantages and disadvantages. It was harder to discover new bands because you discovered them through magazines and now everything is very easily available but it’s also easy to get lost because there’s so much. And you know the magic of: “holy shit, there’s a new album coming out from that band !” is kind of less than it used to be if that makes sense.

But that leads us to some part of my question that in your opinion, what are the must have bands on the current scene?
Sven: It really depends on the style because there’s so many subgenres subdivisions to Metal, Death Metal and Deathcore and all that shit so it really depends. Nobody can get around Cannibal Corpse, obviously. I mean, that’s like a gateway band for everybody I think, everybody knows Cannibal Corpse when listens to Death Metal. You can like it or not, I mean you can say whatever you want, but they are the gateway band for this kind of music. I think them, I think definitely them but it honestly, it’s kind of hard, the scene is very fragmented and to see like what bands are must haves these days, I’m biased because I’d say Suffocation as well for me was, was a very big part and still is and Entombed which obviously doesn’t really exist anymore. But they were definitely one of the founders of this kind of style. So for me, it’s really the classic bands when it comes to Death Metal.

You’re the only member of the band who’s been here from the beginning. How do you see Aborted‘s evolution in retrospect? How do you choose the musicians who join the band?
Sven: Well, I mean, that’s evolved over the years, obviously shit happens, life happens. Sometimes people don’t want to tour, sometimes people don’t really fit in the band. Let me just answer your question with this: If I could go back in time and tell younger me what to look out for, I would say mainly look for the right people and not just the right musicians. I think that’s the most important and it doesn’t matter where they’re from because if you look at the band now, we’re very happy. We’ve been for a very long time and it’s got people from all over the place. So it really doesn’t matter. It’s just finding the right individuals to, you know, share your passion with.

I know there’s a tour planned for March with Carnifex, but do you have any other plans for the rest of Aborted?
Sven: Yeah. After that, we’re going to go to the US and Canada for a tour again in June and after that, we’ll be doing some festivals in Europe in August. After that, we’re still planning, but until like the end of August, we’re set. In March, we’re doing a tour throughout Europe and then in August, we’re doing the festivals.

How do you feel about the transition to live shows with Aborted? You also have other projects, are live shows different from your point of view?
Sven: I mean, yeah this is very different,the only other band I still have is Coffin Feeder and it’s different in the way that Aborted is a lot more complex. There’s also a lot more production involved whereas Coffin Feeder is still like a young new band. So we don’t have the budget that Aborted has for live shows, Coffin Feeder would just have a sound engineer, Aborted has production live and a light engineer and all that kind of stuff, so it’s different in that way. Other than that, not so different because both bands are still pretty extreme. One is a bit more groovy like I don’t know, also kind of Hardcore side, I guess, whereas Aborted is a lot more intense but I mean, for me, it’s not all that different.  It’s just kind of like getting to experience again, the new band coming up versus: I know what I’m getting and what to expect with Aborted 

Are there any musicians or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Sven: I don’t know. I have no idea. I mean I’m so busy with this stuff already that it’s hard to know. I know Coffin Feeder is working on a record and we have some really interesting guests coming on that, but I can’t really tell you yet. We just did an album with a guest on every song so I don’t know. I mean, we’ve just done this so honestly haven’t really begun to think about what’s next.

Do you think you’ve improved as a musician with this album?
Sven: I think so yeah! I mean, I’ve put a lot of work in and this is definitely the album I put the most time in recording. But also, you know, spend a lot of time getting to know my body and my voice a bit more, learning a bit more about technique because when I started, there was no youtube, there was no how to scream or whatever. You just kind of discover yourself and get to know it as you go along, whereas a lot of these kids these days, they have the advantage that there’s coaches out there, there’s people that are specialized in this kind of stuff. On this album, I also kind of worked together with David Benitez from the Extreme Vocal Institute who helped me with a bunch of warm ups for the sessions, some advice and stuff like that. Definitely I would say I’ve done what I can to level up.

What dish would you compare Aborted‘s music to?
Sven: OK. I’d say a hot ass fucking burrito !

A burrito?
Sven: We got two Californians in there. We love Mexican food and our music is spicy as shit so there we go !

I never had this answer before. Which bands do you dream of playing with? I’ll leave it to you to imagine a Vault of Horrors release date with Aborted as opener, and three other bands.
Sven: That’s hard.  If it comes to Vault of Horrors and like getting like a Old Death Metal, like… fuck it, I’m not gonna stick it to Death Metal. Just artists that would be insane to play with. Number one Dio and it makes no sense but I don’t care, but it would be awesome. Number two, let’s see Slayer. And if we go to Death Metal, I’d say probably Cannibal Corpse, I think, because it fits perfectly with the whole imagery and everything. 

I’m not surprised, to be honest, by the last two. Just Dio was: “Oh OK” .But yeah, I can understand! That was my last question. Thank you for your availability, and the last words are yours!
Sven: All right, whatever I wanna say to French people. So maybe I should say it in French: merci pour l’interview ! Et je dirais : j’espère voir tout le monde quand on est en concert pour la tournée avec Carnifex en mars.

Mais on aurait pu faire en français alors ? (Hécate a le visage qui se décompose en pensant qu’elle aurait pu faire l’interview en français, ndlr)
Sven: *laughs* Oui on aurait pu ouais, mais tu as commencé en anglais ! Ton visage valait la peine !

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