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Aborym - "Psychogrotesque" (CD)

Aborym - "Psychogrotesque" CD cover image

"Psychogrotesque" track listing:

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. VI
7. VII
9. IX
10. X

Reviewed by on August 10, 2011

"This album is so chaotic that it possibly would only find an audience in performance art/cabaret metal."

Aborym has never been a band that plays it safe, and in their decade together, they've pushed the boundaries constantly in their four previous efforts. The new one, "Psychogrotesque," marks another milestone of black metal fused with industrial and a myriad of other influences. "Psychogrotesque" conveys its songs as movements I through X - individual tracks following in what they deem a theme. That said, does this Italian trio venture into even more unfamiliar territory this time out? The answer is a resounding yes. Does it generally work? Sometimes. Highly experimental in nature, Aborym has even outdone themselves a bit with this release.

With black metal being one of the larger components of their music, they were bound to have a few tracks that are straight ahead in terms of their core sound. "X" is a good outing of symphonic metal featuring the drumming of Bard G. Eithun aka Faust. Their quirkiness emerges when the track fades out for at least a minute and re-emerges as a reprise. Similarly, "VI" plows into a blast beat drumming intro, complemented by a rhythm section replete with a trippy scat beat, synthesizers and horns. It flows well and works, until the vocalist goes into his slo-mo singing, which comes off a bit contrived. "VII" plays like ambient black metal, except it also includes a large quotient of careening guitar solos, which are unlike most riffs of that genre due to their treble being up quite high.

The rest of "Psychogrotesque" makes those songs seem regulated and normal by comparison. "VIII" is straight-ahead industrial dance with a lockstep paramilitary beat similar to Laibach, although the vocal delivery is simplistic, like spoken word. The song would have worked better if it had a more metallic sound to it, like they have done in their past. "II" is a scattered assortment of progressive jazz-like guitar soloing that eventually winds into a metal sound bolstered by a chorus of guest vocalists, including Karyn Crisis. The guest vocals also reappear in a tandem chorus on "V," which consummates into a capable metal track.

The general feel of "Psychogrotesque" is that it is very chaotic in its approach. You will have tracks like "III" that shift from metal to sounds of breaking glass and then another abrupt shift to symphony. The result is very jarring. Similarly, the tracks jump from one thing to another like a seizure. After a dance song is a black metal song and then appears something like "IV" - an Italian spoken-word cantatto every bit as disturbing as the intro. Then "IX" jumps right into heavy machinery noise in the mix blended with harsh, throaty whispers and a music box playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Experimental and metal can work fine together, unless the balance gets tweaked. If a band gets too experimental, they can lose what they brought to the table as a metal band. Aborym has had numerous releases, notably their second and third records, where they brought industrial and metal together in a fusion that could give Skinny Puppy a run for their money. The problem with "Psychogrotesque" is that possibly the band was thinking what the next logical progression they should take would be. In the end, they got too experimental. This album is so chaotic that it possibly would only find an audience in performance art/cabaret metal. As a listening experience, it's too random.

Highs: Black metal, industrial and other ambient sounds mixed eclectically

Lows: Too many different sounds and songs arranged randomly

Bottom line: Fans of Aborym may like their earlier efforts much better.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)