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You’d be hard pressed in finding an early ’90s death metal EP that tops this monstrosity. You could tell Abhorrence meant business with their demo, but nothing could have prepared the Finnish scene for their sophomore (and, regrettably, final) release. It’s remarkable how far their sound had come in just one year of activity. I listen to this at least as much as the classics of their contemporaries, and so should you.
Abhorrence shared more in common with the likes of Grave and early Bolt Thrower than they did with anything else coming out of Finland at the time. This is nothing but the finest riff-driven primitive death metal you could hope to come by. Pestilential Mists opens up gradually from a brooding intro into an array of violent tempo changes. The production is markedly improved from the Vulgar Necrolatry demo, but still sounds as if the band is performing from within a murky, nameless cavern hidden in the dank Finnish woodlands. After the howling solo of the opener dissolves into silence, my two favourite Abhorrence tracks are consecutively presented. Riff-maestro, Tomi Koivusaari, rips right into Holy Laws of Pain with some meaty, distorted chugs. Apparently the vocalist of Abhorrence never went on to do anything else in the extreme metal underground, which is as bizarre as it is unfortunate. Nevertheless, his performance here is guttural and punishing as shit, and the way it spews through the mess of guitar distortion makes the music sound that much more abrasive. Caught in a Vortex sees the band slowing down the pace for some eerie atmospheric melodies, or at least that’s the intro, the rest is more of the same fast-paced riffy death metal. For whatever reason, the production on the final track, Disintegration of Flesh, is hilariously less polished than the rest of the tracks. Whether this was left over from the demo or not, I’m not sure, but the song itself holds up just fine so who cares.
Abhorrence didn’t waste any time during their short little stint, and while I’m often kept awake at night thinking about what a full length might have offered us, I’m fully contented with the two releases that were put forth. I guess the most logical recommendation for a full-length after this EP would be Amorphis’ debut, since it shares the primary guitarist/songwriter, but it actually doesn’t sound very similar. I’d say Amorphis’ Privilege of Evil EP is the closest companion piece to this, but still, the songs here are straight up better. If this band put out at least one more release, or if their work was given proper reissues, I’m confident that the death metal community would laud Abhorrence alongside first tier death metal acts of the same era. Alas, as it stands, they are remembered only by those who have sought them out, but those select few have been duly rewarded with filthy death metal of the highest calibre. Brief as it may have been, Abhorrence’s career is a firm and respectable pillar in the foundations of the putrid Finnish underground, and this is their definitive offering.
I have only good memories about this EP. First time I've heard this piece was probably somewhere in 1993 or 94, when I got the tape (Polish pirate, released by the MG Records) with SERAPHIC DECAY Compilation of EPs. I loved that tape a lot, bands like DISGRACE and GOREAPHOBIA were so bloody obscure and brutal I couldn't get them out of my system. But it was the Finnish ABHORRENCE that really became my absolute favourite. This opinion was even bettered after I got AMORPHIS' "The Karelian Isthmus" wonderful album and when I got to know bit more about these Finns and the connection between both bands. Lovely time and being then only 14 it did influence me a lot and surely both were one of my very favourite bands.
Time goes forward, I'm 30 now and do you know what's the fucking best thing one could imagine? I haven't changed my mind a bit and still consider this EP as a killer. Ha, that's what I call an immortal power of music, but I dare to risk and say these Finns would never imagine their gory slabs will be so powerful and remembered even 20 years later. The band totally deserves its cult status and the influence they had on the scene is undeniable. I don't even regret they split up soon after - thanks to that we've got AMORPHIS and ABHORRENCE remains as a cult on its own.
OK, back to this seven inch! If there's one thing I don't really like it may be the front cover - a disturbing collage of zombies, corpses and other monstrous creatures, it looks bit childish now, but hell... It does fit the mood of the music perfectly. The EP starts with a creepy intro, when suddenly the slow riffing of “Pestilential Mists” blows up the speaker. This should be Finland's national anthem! ABHORRENCE nicely combines the fast grinding parts (CARCASS!!!) with the slower riffage, but it must be said this is probably the slowest song the band ever did. These slow fragments, often accompanied by memorable melodies are creating a main foundation of the song, while the fast riffage is only few seconds long. But you trully can smell the odour of rotten bodies accompanying these sounds.
But then we’ve got “Holy Laws of Pain” – one of my favourite ABHORRENCE tracks. Fantastic and aggressive death metal anthem, with brilliant vocals from Jukka and some superb riffs. Yeah, ABHORRENCE was all about the riffs – they had a gift of creating astonishing and highly memorable riffs; not just the melodies, but also those incredible slow tunes, that massacre like a damn bulldozer. Even the fast parts will stay in your head for long - this is something most of the present bands lost completely.
“Caught In a Vortex” is very alike to the opening song, but I absolutely love its middle fragment, with slow, total headbanger riffing. I can die for such riffs!!! And again some brilliant vocals from Jukka. “Disintegration of Flesh” from the other hand is much faster and more aggressive, but somehow it’s bit worse produced. I don’t know if it’s my copy’s fault or what, but it doesn’t sound as loud and energetic as the previous tracks. Anyway, it’s pretty straight forward song, with clear CARCASS vibe.
All in all, these four compositions create a wonderful 7” single. It’s one of those recordings, that will remain immortal to me. I couldn’t stop listening to it! I love every aspect of it – production, songs, riffing, vocals, band photo on a cover, etc. The only fault I can see in the music is somehow strange way of finishing every song. It seems like the band dropped some ideas of them and made them shorter so that they could fit on a 7”. I don’t know what the truth is, but surely these songs should take another minute or more to be fully completed.
This is the second and unfortunately, the last effort by Abhorrence. This time, is an EP that, anyways, is shorter in length than the first demo. Their death metal style hasn’t changed a lot from the beginning but here comes with a better production even if we don’t find the hyper clean and pounding sounds. It’s always death metal in its purest form, so it needs a right, putrid sound.
The intro is erased by the incontrollable fury of the opener, “Pestilential Mist” where the blast beats are perfectly balanced with some doom passages. These last ones, in particular, are truly morbid and rotten with some dissonant part while the guitars play tremolo picking riffs when the blast beats are the most important tempo. The vocals, as the demo before, are not excessive but more suffocated and somehow similar to the American death metal wave.
“Holy Laws of Pain” features a quite thrash metal riff at the beginning, to flow in some more impulsive blast beats. That thrash metal riff is a sign of maturity, while the old Morbid Angel influences of the past demo are almost completely gone. “Caught in a Vortex” contains obscure arpeggios at the beginning to become Swedish death metal riffs and that’s strange for a Finnish band. Here they were so similar to the sounds in the Grave’s debut. The only thing that differs is the use of the blast beats.
The atmosphere is murky, heavy and really brutal. It seems to be in a desolated wood at night. The guitars are extremely rotten and the obscure and the scary tones as intro to “Disintegration of Flesh” are an example. The down tempo parts are the most odd and obscure ones. There is no light in these riffs, just suffering and misery. The lead guitars draw scenarios of pure madness and depravity.
All in all, another good effort by this overlooked band. The lovers of the purest form of death metal will like it. It’s obscure, rotten and perfect for a horror film. It marks also a step further for this band, which finally reached a good level of personality, leaving a bit the old influences to find their own path to death metal.
Fans of Finnish/Swedish/Scandinavian death metal know what this is with no introduction. Its not surprising that this is now revered as a "cult" release, seeing as it was not only one of the breakthrough deathmetal releases of the Finnish scene, but also the fact it was released on the long-dead Seraphic Decay records... Forget the "Entombed" comparison above, this is death in the old FINNISH way, and connoiseurs of the genre can tell the difference Im sure... This is low-tuned, sludgy, gloomy, scandinavian death metal in its most stripped down, primitive form. The album has definitely got that somewhat "etherial" feeling in the recording, and the vocals are a low death growl. While "caught in a vortex" is considered the band's "hit song" by many (a fact that is bolstered by FUNEBRARUM's recent cover of the song...), I tend to prefer the final track "Disintegration of Flesh" due to the gloomy riffing the song starts with, and the path it travels through the end... All in all, if you consider yourself a fan of Scandinavian death metal and you either dont have this release, or have never heard it, your life is not complete until you find it!
If death metal is deconstructive nihilism eschewing teleological purpose and meaning in life, "seeking freedom by dropping out of the imposed social order and embracing chaos and entropy" (source: Richard Carpenter), then one of the inherent pitfalls in death metal must be to fall into the eroded groove of 'rebellion first, creative thought' later. When the short intro (which positively surprises by lack of intent) goes over into 'Pestilential Mists' we are treated with a groove that morphs itself sequentially into several riff-themes, only disrupted by an annoying breakdown into standard pummeling. The second time this disturbance comes around however, it has established itself as a bridge to the final theme: a dirge heralding imminence of perishing.
On the second track the aforementioned pitfall establishes itself however. The band finds itself in a groove often fallen into by death metal bands aspiring towards freedom from conventionality. Disjointed parts that gain internal cohesion by simplicity, and intercohesion only by a common theme of being so simple that it's seperate elements have been spontaneously reproduced by the various bands of the early 90's deathmetal explosion, by sheer force of being easy to manifest.
In 'Caught In A Vortex' the band has found essence again however. Introduced to gloom by cavernous acoustic chords, the fuzzily distorted guitars soon overtake the same melody until they erupt with the realised necessity of action. Finding direction in movement the song progresses towards a point where movement becomes frantic untill controlled once more. When the futility of attempted control slowly becomes apparant the song breaks down into chaos once more, untill stillness is found in fatalistically letting control go to the forces that be.
Opening with black metal-esque chromatic riffing, the band decepts into not expecting the following simplistic breakdown in 'Disintegration Of Flesh'. After this the band doomily descends to nihilation, occasionally warning with those annoying breakdowns that the end won't be blissfull peace, and emphasizing with an occasional return of the opening riff that death is ever malicious.
Death is ancient, and the end carries no new message, no profound meaning that wasn't apparant before Abhorrence from Finland redirected thought towards it.