Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aborym - Psychogrotesque (2010)

Aborym have ever been an enigma, standing out harshly not only amongst the Italian scene but also metal at large with their whirlwind, alien style.  From 90s techno elements to extensive industrial sampling to neon corpsepaint, Malfeitor and his cohorts have never been quite like any other band.  However, without the involvement of previous singers Attila Csihar or Prime Evil, and the first album without long-time guitarist Nysrok, Aborym came into this project stripped to the mere basics - the mastermind Malfeitor, the equally veteran Bard G. Faust, and Hell-IO-Kabbalus' debut among the alien host.  With a bevvy of guests and a unique concept album prepared, Aborym made their move with Psychogrotesque

The album begins with a largely forgettable ambient collage of recognizable hospital sounds, taking the usual intro piss of being destined to be skipped over on every subsequent listen. Thankfully, "II" kicks in with a groaning, off-kilter solo, immediately recalling the accurately-titled shock and awe invasion of "With No Human Intervention."  Dropping off into precise, chunky death metal riffing and gritted Malfeitor-meets-Attila vocals before quickly introducing a soaring synth hook like the herald of some frantic hospital rave, "II" is a quick dose of candy for the patients.  That it transitions into a doomy segment in short order only stirs fond memories of Generator, picking up nicely near the end with some industrial samples and tempo changes.  As the first significant song of an album considered to be one long piece separated into track, it seems like an excellent breach into the styles and moods Aborym have explored before - a warmup for more in-depth subject examinations. 

Yet, most of the tracks here manifest in much the same way, mixing new elements into the same hospital gown folds.  Taken individually, each piece fails to create its own identity, changing tack rather than charging into the maggot-storm of ideas unleashed, and every seeming attempt to force the music aggressively up and out becomes a short-lived segue into another simmering down-tempo section.  These drawn-out, brooding parts are the most consistent element to be found throughout the album, with faster metal sections and traditional techno elements added and discarded at whim.  The standard song structure disappears, leaving the listener with nothing concrete to hang onto besides the ever-changing nature of the composition.   

It becomes quickly evident that this is not an album to be taken in pieces, despite the traditional song separations that it is forced into.  Once you settle into Psychogrotesque on its own terms, taking each emotion as it comes without a thought for the future, the picture starts to come together.  The temperamental changes and repetitive tempo reversions take on a thematic importance as the listener is subjected to the story's schizophrenic trappings, each twist and turn a sudden lucid moment, each relapse to the mire a misfired synapse, a forced syringe, a reminder that there will never be freedom.  In this context, I find that Psychogrotesque largely flies by me with classic Aborym aplomb for the bizarre, inhuman, and fascinating.   I say largely, however, because there are some parts of the album that could have used a few more minutes with the surgeon.  While I accept the slow parts that I've talked about so much, their highly repetitious nature makes it all the more important that the riffs used therein are plotted carefully, and more often than not they teeter on the edge of clinically sterile.  And honestly, I wish track "VIII" just left out the guitars and singing altogether - the purely electronic beginning is completely good on its own. 

A few botched stitches don't make that much of a difference - this is another absolutely unique offering and progression by Aborym that still retains their core values.  The electronic and industrial elements are flawless; the metal is as sound as a padded cell; and the compositions are a blend unlike any other.  I love that they take the topic of insanity so seriously - this is something that will affect every fucking one of us at some point, not to mention the pertinent questions that mental perceptions pose in a genre that holds individuality so dear - and Aborym certainly approach this in a worthwhile manner.  Yet, when the heart monitor goes flat at the end of it all, I just don't find Psychogrotesque to be completely memorable as a whole, and it leaves me less affected than its predecessors.  This is an ambitious project, though.  That there are a few less interesting parts is not highly surprising given the nature of the album, and a step down for the band is still far ahead of most others.

Verdict: Win [8/10] (kill yourself for the comfort of others)



autothrall said...


Stop making me look bad, or I'll have to fire myself.

is this your life? said...

Ha, I seriously feel bad for not cutting the review shorter, but I couldn't do it. I guess that means less people will read it, though, so that works out.

Nothing makes you look bad, babe! Go watch some Needle Drop reviews if you need to renew faith in yourself, bah.

autothrall said...

Actually, I don't mind that guy's reviews all that much. When it comes to metal, he's a bit of a hipster, so you can't rely on him to review anything but trendy black, sludge, and doom metal, with the occasional exception of a hyped album like Vektor or Iron Maiden. He also overrates various other Pitchfork-friendly bands like Animal Collective.

I mean, Animal Collective? They write interesting enough music, don't get me wrong, but they are in no way the saviors of sound they are constantly being spun as.
However, his Fever Ray review introduced me to that band, and it's quite an amazing album. Obviously, I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum to his feelings on the latest Klaxons record.

Also, he does pull his review choices out of requests, so perhaps that explains the metal selection.

is this your life? said...

I never have too much of an issue with his overall scores, but the reviews always seem so lacking in substance. Maybe it is the request format that mucks it up, pushing him into areas of music he doesn't have anything to say about.