Monday, November 29, 2010

Aborym: Psychogrotesque (2010)


Aborym is an Italian industrial black metal band who have been combining the two styles longer than just about anybody else. Even after 18 years, they haven't had very many copycats, as it's not easy to combine black metal's signature tremolo riffing with the staccato rhythms usually associated with industrial. But Aborym clearly knows how it's done.

The tracks (ten of them, plus a hidden track) are simply given a Roman numeral for a title. Sometimes, they're almost purely industrial metal, as on "VIII" the guitars are somewhat in the background of the rhythm section while a synth melody and industrial drumming are at the forefront. Other times, they blend black metal and industrial together expertly. "II" is built on a thrashy black metal riff with a synth melody interwoven, but then moves into simple tremolo riffing with industrial atmosphere. "III" starts on an industrial rhythm but moves into blast beats.

Most of it is fast-paced, but there are times when it moves slower. "X", for instance, starts thrashy and moves into a thrash-style solo before slowing down to a simple discordant riff and weird strings providing atmosphere. The vocals tend toward black metal rasping, but there are some clean vocals and spoken word styles.

You would think combining industrial and black metal would make them unique enough, but Aborym don't limit themselves to the normal tools of the trade, employing saxophone, female operatic singing, very strangely played strings, and a creepy "Over the Rainbow" music box.

OK, so that sounds like a lot of elements that shouldn't fit together. But it does, because everything seems to stay in its place. As a rule, the synths provide the melodies, while the guitars provide the aggression, and the other odd elements are brought in for atmosphere. They don't try to wedge the sax into a section with blast beats, or throw the thrashy riffs over industrial rhythms. And it's all held together by a kind of paranoid feeling that matches the album art.

Some of it (like the industrial atmosphere tracks) is more or less filler, and a couple tracks are forgettable, but there are some definitely memorable highlights ("II", "V", and "X").

The Verdict: Aborym stay near the edge of extreme metal and mix it up, but they seem to have an innate sense for knowing when and how to break the rules. It's not a perfect album by any means, but it's entirely unique. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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