February 10, 2021 Aborym – Hostile (Album Review)
There was a time when the name Aborym was synonymous with the finest in Industrial Black Metal. Hailing from Italy, the band arose in the late ’90s with a sound that was rather unique to the labyrinthine world of extreme music. Created by Malfeitor Fabban (Fabrizio Giannese), the veteran act is set to release their eighth studio album on the 12th of February, 2021. Entitled Hostile, it appears courtesy of Dead Seed Productions and appears four years on from their last studio album, Shifting.Negative.
It was clear from the last album, and even from 2013’s Dirty, that Fabban was steering the band farther away from the mystical, mechanized Black Metal which defined Aborym. At this point, any connections they had to the genre of Black Metal are purely nostalgic, as their music has indeed shifted to realms closer to those trod by groups like Skinny Puppy and Marilyn Manson than something like Mysticum.
In painting the listener a picture of psychological torment and depression, “Disruption” begins the album with a prolonged segment of off-kilter whispering, allowing far too much time to pass before the rest of the instruments come in. After “Proper Use of Myself” sees the band trying on a mold that KMFDM has perfected, the first time Aborym distinguishes themselves on the album occurs on the third song “Horizon Ignited.” Whether the band is going for a kind of Grunge meets Post-Rock vibe on Hostile is unclear, but the driving chorus of the song gets under the skin, Fabban’s vocals sounding all the better for going for it; the Korn-like whispering and pseudo-insane talking parts sound strained, off-key, and inauthentic by comparison.
As the album appears to be a tour of different styles of metal, “Stigmatized (Robotripping) comes off like Fabban was listening to a lot of Prong and latter-day Ministry as he wrote it. With distorted vocals a la Rob Zombie, and ropey bass-lines synonymous with that sort of 1990’s Faith No More-esque style, the one reference point Aborym comes nowhere near is the Black Metal genre from which they sprung.
At times it appears Aborym is going for a vibe similar to that of the band Manes; another band who began with a sort of mechanized black metal but reinvented themselves into weird and electro-tinged post-rock. “The End of a World” seems to have been composed with this in mind, before a pleasant, up-tempo chorus comes in. Again, Fabban’s voice is better suited to these more empowered sections than his low and whispered lyrics. Culminating this with such a poppy chorus is a strange choice. “Lava Bed Sahara” has a definite appeal to it, with its dreamy vocal lines and chaotic instrumental backdrop, and prominent bass-lines courtesy of Riccardo Greco. Too much of the album, however, seems to reside in the realm of rehashed pseudo-Industrial Aggro-Rock, as though Fabban is intent on shifting the band completely away from its original intent and sound, but perhaps won’t completely commit to that.
Perplexingly, the brief “Nearly Incomplete” ends just as it seems like its shifting into another more extreme gear. Zany, rife with good bass lines and a driving beat (sounds like very early Strapping Young Lad), it lives in Aborym’s new realm of sound but seems to work a lot better. “The Pursuit of Happiness” is an example of how frustrating a listen Hostile can be; its compelling with its beats and off-time structure, but then it devolves into an aimless and unnaturally slow verse arrangement. It picks up in the middle, showing us that if Aborym is intent on shedding any semblance of the extremity they once thrived with, there is hope they can grow more comfortable doing so.
As if to drive home this point, “Solve et Coagula” melds a bizarre saxophone part into an almost New Wave beat and ’80s Pop infused vocal style. Damned if it doesn’t work, dance-inducing and a little bit weird but very well-done. This is one of the finer moments on the album. Album closer “Magical Smoke Screen” gets into the listener’s brain as well. Fabban’s vocals ebb in and out of the repetitive dance beat and rapid-fire synthesized sounds. The drawn-out chorus and that wordless vocal accompaniment is quite masterfully coalesced here as well.
Aborym sounds like a band in flux on Hostile, presenting a bit of a meandering clash of styles all on one album. Its clear they are no longer playing the Attila Csihar-fronted nuclear devastation of yore, and while there are some very strong elements on the album, it does feel like they need to pick a style and go with it. And while not every band can be Ulver or Manes, and journey so triumphantly out of an extreme genre into stranger and poppier territory, Aborym could wind up putting it all together and finding a better direction soon. Hostile is certainly a bold step further from the comfort zone, and perhaps that may turn out to be its greatest strength. Cryptic Rock gives Hostile 3 out of 5 stars.