ALBUM REVIEW: Aborted - Vault of Horrors

ALBUM REVIEW: Aborted - Vault of Horrors

Vault of Horrors will be released March 18th, 2024 on Nuclear Blast Records

Belgium's Aborted have returned in 2024 with their star-studded twelfth album Vault of Horrors on Nuclear Blast Records. The album's concept delves into the vaults of classic VHS horror films and stories, paying tribute in each track. With not only a heavy as all hell song as an homage, but a guest vocalist on each track. With a motif that fits the band's legendary theme and sound, along with an endless list of who's who of today's death metal scene, does this album live up to the hype that's been built around it? YOU ARE DAMN RIGHT IT DOES!!!

The album opens with "Dreadbringer" and features Ben Duerr of Shadow of Intent on the track. With a slow, anticipating build with synth keys that are reminiscent of an 80's slasher flick, the track builds and rises with the synths and light piano plinking. Then, the unrelenting fury of Aborted kicks in. Drummer Ken Bedene's unrelenting blast beats, along with the complex tremolo and tech death guitars of Ian Jekelis & Daníel Máni Konráðsson just hits the listener right in the face with unforgiving speed. Vocalist Sven de Caluwé delivers his deepest gutturals along with Duerr on the track. The song has some of the classic Aborted deathgrind elements to it, with Bedene just not slowing down and flying all over the drumkit with fills and strikes. The breakdown at the halfway mark instantly gives you that stankface feeling as soon as it hits. The ominous and unsettling closing build at the three quarters mark, into the unholy vocals and machine gun double bass shows the band is going for the throat until the song's conclusion.

Guitarist Ian Jekelis

"Condemned To Rot" is next and features Francesco Paoli of Fleshgod Apocalypse. Opening again with the chugging riff machine of Jekelis & Konráðsson, Caluwé delivers his unhinged vocal delivery that can only be matched by the likes of Will Ramos of Lorna Shore or Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation. The band is just a walking breakdown throughout the song. Caluwé's vocals are so deep and guttural at some points, but also delivered with lightning like precision and not losing growl power. The wailing guitar solo at the three quarters mark is fast and before you realize it, the song is almost over. Almost grindcore-era Aborted with just three minutes of fast, heavy and guttural growls. I love the harsh harmonies the two share at the end of the track as the song comes to a hostile end.

Guitarist Daníel Máni Konráðsson

"Brotherhood of Sleep" is next and features Johnny Ciardullo of AngelMaker & Carcosa fame. The down tuned, chugging and heavy riff instantly makes you bang your head. It is SO downtuned and brutal in the chugging and the high, almost dissonant notes. Ciardullo & Caluwé have such an unhinged, snarling, almost visceral shared vocal performance on the track. The band knows how to cater to each vocalist at certain parts, with the death metal-hinged riffs for Caluwé, while the deathcore breakdown sections go to Ciardullo. I LOVE the breakdown at the halfway mark, with PUMMELING drum strikes as the build comes back. More ferocious and unrelentingly pissed off. Bedene's double bass punch through hard in the mix and through the heaviness of the gutturals and chugging guitars. Even getting a chance to perform a drum solo at the end before one last, HEAVY AS ALL HELL closing breakdown on the track. Could be one of the best breakdowns of 2024 so far.

With "Death Cult" and Alex Erain of Despised Icon on the track, Aborted doesn't take their foot off the gas at all. The riff machine continues and double bass pummels the listener, along with the start/stop pacing of the riff throughout the song. The vocals by Erain add an almost hardcore feel behind Caluwé's unmitigated gutturals. The band really is embracing a technical death metal/grind sound with this album. Pushing things like the frantic drumming, start/stop and downtuned chugging of the riff, especially going into Erain's breakdown section around the halfway mark. I can hear the weighty bass of Stefano Franceschini during that breakdown, adding a heavy, gurgly background to the riff and the breakdown piece. The cascading guitar sections of the closing piece creates an unease and heavy close to the track. One of the standout tracks of the album.

Drummer Ken Bedene

"Hellbound" features Matt McGachy of legendary technical death metal act Cryptopsy. This was the track I was most excited to hear since these two bands are probably in my top ten death metal bands of all time. The tremolo highs and downtuned chugging into RELENTLESS blast beats, gives it an almost blackened death metal sound to the song. The vocal mix is INSANELY heavy. With layers upon layers of growls and gutturals before the verse section gets going, it is just a mind-blowing feel. Both Caluwé & McGachy work SO GOOD vocally and musically. With an almost call and response feel in the vocal sections at certain points. I would KILL to see them perform this song live. Both match each other perfectly with snarls, gutturals and goblin-like shrieking. I love also the complex solo after the halfway mark into the dueling harmonies, SO good. The overall song is just insanely heavy, brutal, intricate and progressive at certain moments. With the band just pushing how hard and heavy they can go with their sound and delivering a song that not only exceeded my expectations, but beat the holy crap out of them. SUCH A GOOD SONG!

On "Insect Politics", we have Jason Evans of Ingested with the song AGAIN just hit the ground running from the starting second. Both vocalists almost have a guttural off with seeing who can go lower in the main verse section and into the chorus. Aborted are so good at creating a transition of unmatched blast beat, into chugging and building guitars, into pounding double bass. It's almost a signature at this point in the band's career. The song flies by in its speed and pacing and is the shortest song on the album, replicating the techgrind sound the band has begun to showcase on previous albums. The opening of "The Golgothan" returns to that eerie, horror like build before the pounding drum shot starts the track. Creating a doomy, blackened death metal sound in the opening with the guitars. Featuring Hal Microutsicos of Blasphemous on the song, Aborted shows how to pick vocals to match the song's essence and sound. The church organ background throughout the verses, adding to the horror theme of the song and the album, creates that unsettling ambience that evil is abound. The vocal gymnastics both deliver on the track when the pacing picks up. Just showing the complexity and skill in both vocalists. Jekelis & Konráðsson continue their showmanship on the guitar at the halfway mark, hopping guitar solos and dueling harmonies that would make any technical death metal nerd happy with its delivery. Microutsicos' vocals at some points after the halfway mark, sounds very similar to Steve Souza of Exodus and his nasally, gritty vocals, which I wasn't expecting but it oddly fits the track. The closing breakdown, along with choir and pipe organ just continue the unholy sound they were going for on the track and it works ten-fold. The other track I was excited to hear was "The Shape of Hate" which features Oliver Rae Aleron of the hugely popular Archspire. With again, the pummeling double bass opening, the riff just goes for the throat in its complexity and heaviness. Bedene's drumming, matching the super-fast delivery of Aleron almost perfectly is so good, and shows that he can keep speed and time to match the rapid delivery of Aleron. I love the build before the breakdown at the halfway mark, which then picks up the pace with Aleron & Caluwé trying to go lower and deeper in their guttural delivery as the double bass picks up, and the riff intensifies. Jekelis & Konráðsson AGAIN shine on the track with dueling guitar solos at certain points before the song gets taken over by Aleron & Caluwé and Bedene's unmatched speedy double bass to close out the track.

Vocalist Sven de Caluwé

"Naturom Demonto"  features David Simonich III of Signs of The Swarm, and the band just does not give the listener time to rest or recover. Going for the jugular again on the track. Simonich and his snarly vocals, along with Caluwé's deep vocals, showcases both vocalist's ability to match or exceed the other's deepest growls. The riff and dueling vocals into the halfway mark is so heavy and brutal, and I LOVE that. The snarly, phlegm inducing delivery by Simonich, with Caluwé almost doing a counter-harmony effect, creates this heavy build as the song builds. With chugging riffage, strings in the background and the drumming pounding hard, the song chugs and chugs as it begins to fade out. The album's closer, "Malevolent Haze" features Ricky Hoover of Ov Sulfur. The band wants to end this album with a bang, and with that opening riff and double bass, they are about to end strong. Caluwé & Hoover work well on this track and are mixed beautifully. The guitar sections get more intricate, with some pieces building with that classic death metal chug, but include almost tremolo like highs, then accented with wailing guitars in the background of the song near the halfway mark. The short build at the halfway mark into another LOW and SLOOOW chugging breakdown that both vocalists begin to shine, into guttural lows and short pig squeal-esque shrieks and snarls. Then, OUT OF NOWHERE, the song has a distorted passage with wailing guitars. Atmospheric and building in its tone, almost something you'd hear off an old thrash album, the song comes back again. With tremolo guitars, down tuned chugging, and both vocalists giving it their one last go for the gusto. As the song builds to an crescendo like ending with chugs, double bass and cymbal strikes, before cascading into atmospheric guitars and a snare drum roll as this brutally heavy album comes to a close.

Aborted's star studded twelfth album Vault of Horrors is potentially the band's best album. With so many great vocalists that work well with Caluwé's guttural highs and visceral shrieks, along with the complex and intricate guitar playing by Jekelis & Konráðsso. Bedene's drumming is the secret weapon I think with this record. His drumming is so all over the place in complexity and his drum matching with "The Shape of Hate" vocals by Aleron is so impressive in speed and adding more punch to the alrighty harsh vocals by Aleron. The band has delivered a punch to the throat, then stabbed it and bathed in the blood with how brutal and heavy this record is. This will be a potential album of the year for me. This is a MUST for any death metal and techgrind fan.

SCORE: 10 / 10

  1. Dreadbringer (feat. Ben Duerr of Shadow of Intent)
  2. Condemned To Rot (feat. Francesco Paoli of Fleshgod Apocalypse)
  3. Brotherhood of Sleep (feat. Johnny Ciardullo of AngelMaker & Carcosa)
  4. Death Cult (feat. Alex Erain of Despised Icon)
  5. Hellbound (feat. Matt McGachy of Cryptopsy)
  6. Insect Politics (feat. Jason Evans of Ingested)
  7. The Golgothan (feat. Hal Microutsicos of Blasphemous)
  8. The Shape of Hate (feat. Oliver Rae Aleron of Archspire)
  9. Naturom Demonto (feat. David Simonich III of Signs of The Swarm)
  10. Malevolent Haze (feat. Ricky Hoover of Ov Sulfur)

FFO: Cattle Decapitation, Skinless, Benighted

Aborted is about to embark on a spring tour as support for Canadian tech-death metal act Archspire, along with support from Carcosa and Alluvial. If you wanna check out this insanely heavy lineup live, check out for tickets.  

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