Album Review: Aborted Fetus – The Ancient Spirits of Decay

I’m guessing I don’t need to describe the style of music Aborted Fetus create. One look at the name should be enough of a clue, that and their near 20-year record of heavy death metal. The Ancient Spirits of Decay is album number six for the Russian crew and shows every bit the brutality of their earlier releases, following closely on the heels of 2017’s The Art of Violent Torture.

Featuring a baker’s dozen of grinding, guttural, windmill-inducing slabs of darkness (OK, twelve and a melodic outro), Ancient Spirits pummels from the off. Once the atmospheric howling winds of “The Wind of Agonizing Spirits” tails off after a few seconds, a simple bit of downtuned riffage kicks in for the remainder of this short instrumental introduction prior to “Eaten by Pigs in the Trough”. The first track to feature vocals, they’re of a suitable grunted, snarled variety courtesy of Igor Stafeev.

Guitar work is both intricate and powerful (take a bow Alexander “Meatgrinder” Andreev), while decent production allows Sergey Shchapov’s bass to be heard fairly well in the mix. Sergey “Hammer” Kulakov’s drums are never too much, and encourage neck motion as much as anything else within each song.

The song titles are a perverse joy to behold, and I wish I had a lyric sheet to get the most from the likes of “Genital Torture by Alligator Tongs” and “Iron Petals of the Blasphemer’s Pear”. Indeed, I wonder if some of these are unused works from The Art of Violent Torture as they would fit on an album with such a title. And then you realise that, no, Aborted Fetus are just sick bastards.

Throughout the album, we’re treated to an insane amount of heaviness and periods of blast beats, but there are only rare parts where the album would encourage neck-breaking headbanging. This is, at its filthy black heart, an album which slowly crushes rather than tears apart in a frenzy. OK, there are faster segments – through “Beheaded on the Guilotine [sic]” for example – but while I can imagine a brief flurry of limbs in the moshpit to them, I feel that the majority of the song is more one for slow nods accompanied by that intricate air guitar work.

Ancient Spirits is a very good death metal album. Not a great one, but certainly not bad by any stretch. Each track has its own identity, and isn’t just an all-out blast of notes. Stand-out tracks are “Iron Petals of the Blasphemer’s Pear”, “Rack of Torment” and “Beheaded on the Guilotine”.

The Ancient Spirits of Decay is out now

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