I awoke and found myself still in a daze. What happened last night? Or even the night before that? When was it, anyway? The calendar on the wall indicated that several months had passed since my last coherent thought. My entire body was stiff; I could sense dried blood caked on my skin. I reached around to the back of my neck and felt a large bandage, hardened around the edges but slightly moist in the middle. What the fuck had they done to me? Moreover, who the fuck were ‘they’?
I rolled over and heard the familiar sound of a CD jewel case hitting the floor. It, too, was streaked with blood, which contrasted the perfectly spotless piece of paper affixed to it. I scrambled to open it, hoping it would contain some clue as to what had transpired:
“Mr. Pirtle: Take care of this, else the horrors detailed within become your fate. – Management”
Now to be fair, I wasn’t 100% certain which management was in reference here, but I had a hunch, and I knew they meant business. I picked up the bloody CD case to see just how bad it was, and gulped as I read the plain white promo label: Aborted – Global Flatline.
Ahh, nothing like the fear of impending doom and unfathomable inhumanities to get the ol’ adrenaline pumping. I quickly rose to my feet and stumbled towards my laptop to get started.
When was the last time I had heard Aborted, anyway? I’ll always have fond memories of Goremageddon, but that was over 8 years ago. I also seemed to recall The Archaic Abattoir and the stopgap EP that came between them, but after that it was all a blur. I soon found out that I had missed – or forgotten – two full-lengths and another EP since then. This was baffling; I miss albums all the time but almost never from bands I actually like. Exactly how long had I been out for?! I couldn’t dwell on that, though. If I lived in the past, there would be no future. Once I had assured myself of the latter, I could attempt to repair the mistakes of the former.
As I began listening to Global Flatline, though, it became apparent that those two albums must be important in the evolution of Aborted. No longer did they sound like peak-era Carcass worshipers or even a band attempting to keep pace with the ever-evolving Exhumed. No, Aborted seemed to have been working towards carving their own niche in the world of extreme metal, one that encompassed the spirit of gore metal while taking increasing musical cues from the death and grind genres. Had I not missed those two albums, this transition may feel more organic. As it was, though, I found myself scratching my head a bit through the opening tracks.
Lucky for me, I have always been one who can adjust to change pretty quickly, and soon the sound was as comfortable as a fresh human suit. (Hmm, not sure why my mind went there. Hello, Mr. Gein?) It was bloody brutal, blast beats and double-bass pummeling the eardrums while the scythe-like guitars cut a path through everything and directly into the root of the primate brain. Midway through “The Origin of Disease,” things started to get blurry again. Trying to keep up with the proceedings was proving to be a difficult endeavor. Riff after pointed riff flew in my direction; vocalist Sven de Caluwé’s dual deliveries creating subterfuge as to what would be coming next. What the hell is “Fecal Forgery” anyway? Is that when you take someone else’s shit? Whatever it is, to hear Aborted tell it, it must be damn painful for both parties, but quite entertaining for observers.
It sounded like there might have been a third voice during the ‘core-esque “Of Scabs and Boils,” so I decided to look into it. While specific results were inconclusive, I did learn that Global Flatline does feature guest vocal appearances by Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder), Julien Truchan (Benighted), Jason Netherton (Misery Index), and Keijo Niinimaa (Rotten Sound). Pretty cool. No one else seemed to know where these guys popped up either, so I guess it will remain a mystery for now. Since nobody is likely to pick up the album based on them, though, I’m not overly concerned. Neither should you be, for that matter. Think of them as the free toy inside. You’re getting the product for the product, not for what comes with it.
From hard and fast to harder and slow – that is how we ended up at “Expurgation Euphoria”, which owes a stylistic debt to Morbid Angel’s “God of Emptiness”, except a piano takes the place of the goofy closing vocal. The slow riff is revisited in “From a Tepid Whiff”, and just when you think the whole mood is about to change, “The Kallinger Theory” is straight brutality. It was around that time that the idea of the “horrors detailed within” entered my mind. Joseph Kallinger was a notorious serial killer. Was I to be murdered if I didn’t complete my task? Would my family be subject to the same fate? Would the previous “Coronary Reconstruction” turn me into some sort of bloodthirsty zombie? For that matter, would the whole world be destroyed (“Global Flatline”) just to get me out of it?
“Your suffering will be legendary,” pronounced a sampled voice. Nervously, I looked back at the tracklisting to see “Nailed Through Her Cunt,” and I knew I had to finish my work quickly. There was no way I would let them lay a finger on my wife. Pure death metal gore, this track was. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I enjoyed this one, but it was just so well played that I couldn’t resist it. Maybe it was due in part to the fact that this marked the end of the album and that this whole episode would soon be behind me.
Looking back, Global Flatline is a damn fine slab of bloody death, played with precision and technicality and a flair that so many similar bands seem to lack. I forsee a lot of playback with this in the future, when I can enjoy all that it has to offer and maybe even laugh at the circumstances that brought it to my attention and surrounded my initial listening experience.
Now to find out what’s going on with Vehemence.