As a self-proclaimed Horror Honey™, I’m absolutely enamored with the overall concept of this record. The title of Aborted‘s new record Vault of Horrors should speak for itself, but in case you weren’t aware, this record is based off horror movie universes, characters and storylines. Right from the start, I had a feeling that the merchandise sets for this release would be incredibly cool, and I was absolutely right. The Aborted team went all out to make a record that isn’t just a visually pleasing package, but also musically interesting. The band brought in TEN – yeah, TEN – different metal vocalists to feature on this album, one on each track. This is the first album I’ve listened to that employed this level of collaboration, adding to my heightened excitement to hear them all.

While they’ve mostly kept the references a secret, “Dreadbringer” track’s visualizer reveals lyrics that were clearly born out of the ‘80s sci-fi classic The Thing, interchanging DNA double helices and mutilated bodies over lyrics of “The imitation took control/Dread bringer/No defiance, the imitation destroys all”. “Dreadbringer” wastes no time in showcasing the lightning-fast, choppy drumming prowess of Ken Bedene and the echoing breakdown at the three minute mark damn near shook my headphones off my head. Its no surprise Shadow of Intent‘s Ben Duerr is the first feature on the opening track with the sheer power he brings. It’s great to see such well-developed talent sharing the spotlight with another deathcore behemoth. 

“Condemned to Rot” featuring Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s Francesco Paoli is up next and it’s here I return to my ultimate wish of being able to immediately understand any and all screaming lyrics. The horror nerd in me DESPERATELY wants to hear exactly what’s going on. The track gets right down to death metal business by jumping right into insanity, delivering an unexpected metallic guitar halfway through.

“Brotherhood of Sleep”, gritty ass intro and insanely tough vocals burst in, building a perfect foundation for Angelmaker‘s Johnny Ciardullo. I knew this one was going to go hard but vocalist Sven de Caluwé alongside Johnny really knocked the wind out of me. The harmony of Sven‘s low growls against Johnny’s high octave screams are truly a demonic duo.The ending scream of this track cuts out abruptly, as if the record is telling you “DANGER! DEMONIC FORCES AHEAD!” – but it’s too late.

“Death Cult” is the first single off the record, along with its Texas Chainsaw-themed music video and so far, this has been a strong track development. Aborted and their production did a great job of arranging these tracks to line up in a way that’s pleasing to the listener. “Death Cult” is such a solid single with “Death Cuuuult” repeating throughout. Steve Marois (Despised Icon) and Sven seem to have similar low screams which made it a bit hard for me to tell the two apart at times.

I had the same issue with “Hellbound” and “Insect Politics” – while “Hellbound” had some good technical guitar pieces, I’m feeling a little bored. Maybe it has to do with me not being a prior fan to a few of these featured vocalists (who are all very talented in their own ways), but I wish Aborted and their production team would have considered more stand-out features that showcase Sven without muddling the tracks. “Insect Politics” is a 1:45 minute track and after a few listens, it still feels like a throwaway track. I like the fastness of it but it doesn’t stand out enough on its own to be memorable for me. 

“The Golgothan” picks the energy back up and really leans into the death metal aspects and Hal Microutsicos‘ feature KILLED on this. “The Shape of Hate” boasts Oliver Rae Aleron of Archspire with his notorious “machine-gun” or “shotgun” vocals. The last half of the ending track “Malevolent Haze” is one of my favorite parts of the record which leaves me feeling disappointed. It is one of the most unique chunks, and I understand why it was placed there, but it was a tease for what the other tracks could have been.

Ten fine features could have been traded for five amazing ones, that truly complemented the sounds and delivered extra layers. Instead, it felt like a lot of copy/paste moments next to each other. As I mentioned, while I appreciate the concept and find the record solid, it didn’t quite reach a level of uniqueness that makes me overwhelmingly excited about it.

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