without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Well, I won’t exaggerate if I say that this LP was one of the most anticipated recent releases for me. I didn’t really know if someone will ever think of putting all Abhorrence releases on the compilation album, but since all other Finnish and Swedish bands from the early 90’s have already released their compilations, then I guess it was only a matter of time, when Abhorrence will also be honoured with it. And it really is something that makes me happy, to have “Completely Vulgar” on vinyl and it didn’t even matter if I had to pay a bit extra to get this LP, I just had to have it in my collection. And the feeling, while listening to “Completely Vulgar” is exactly the same, when I listen to the compilation LPs from bands like Nirvana 2002, Interment, Centinex, Grave, Autopsy, Exmortis and so many more, which were unleashed recently. It is just a great joy and worship to those demo songs, which may often sound horribly rough, but which were founding this death metal style 20 years ago and which are nothing less, but a pure cults. And if I cannot have the original demo tapes, as they’re either impossible to find (especially if so many fakes are circulating around the E-bay) or way too expensive, then the best solve of this situation is to have it on vinyl. Not CD, but vinyl, as its clean, warm sound will give it the best justice to those recordings.
I often was saying, while reviewing such compilations, that the artwork and the whole layout are very important for me, when I’m dealing with such releases. There’s nothing worse than getting the boring and lazy, simple layout of the demo compilations, which don’t give you any extras, anything what would make the LP even more special and worthy. Xtreem Music’s release of Funebre’s demos is the worse example I can remember now, as they’ve released it in so uninspiring and boring way, without all that extra stuff, which could have been in the booklet. Fuck, I really hate “Cranial Torment” compilation for that; even if the music is just excellent. But then from the other hand labels like The Crypt and Necroharmonic were releasing amazing stuff. Compilations of such bands as Nirvana 2002, Epitaph, Centinex, Furbowl, Uncanny, Purtenance, plus CDs from Goreaphobia and Exmortis are just amazing pieces of wax and plastic, with so detailed booklets that it’s not just a joy of listening to the cult music, but also reading the story of the band, some old or new interviews, looking at the collection of archival photography. Yeah, when buying “Completely Vulgar” I hoped that this vinyl will also have the same kind of stuff… and I am not disappointed at all!
“Completely Vulgar” comes in two versions of the LP; mine is the black wax, in a killer gatefold cover which has very cool layout (looks like someone glued together an old cardboard box). Plus there’s a special 16 page booklet, which provides some horrid gore artwork, old photos, details on each recording from the compilation, lyrics plus very detailed liner notes from i.e. Jukka Kolehmainen (vocalist), Tomi Koivusaari (guitarist) and Juice Ahlroth (bassis) and all other original Abhorrence members. Isn’t that cool? There’s plenty to read, while you listen to the album, but it is just delightful to go back in time and read all those memories of the band members. Ah, there are also, if you haven’t got enough, scans of the old gigs posters, flyers, demo covers… Fuck, there’s everything!!! And this is exactly what I love about such compilations and this is exactly why they are so worthy to get, if only they’re done this way, not the Funebre way.
Finally, there’s also the music. I am not going to exaggerate if I say that Abhorrence is one of my favourite old death metal bands, one which maybe haven’t released much material, but which did some awesome music and inspired many other bands. I first got to know them in the early 90’s, but I got interested in the band mainly because I loved Amorphis’ “The Karelian Isthmus” and someone told me that this band used to be called Abhorrence – what isn’t really true, as Amorphis was formed when Abhorrence split up. Anyway, Tomi Koivusaari brought to Amorphis one of my favourite tracks of all time, “Vulgar Necrolatry”. And around 1994 I think, I got a Seraphic Decay compilation, which featured some of the greatest underground death metal bands – Goreaphobia, Disgrace, Acrostichon, Toxaemia and Abhorrence. And man, once I listened to Abhorrence – definitely the best band from the compilation - they quickly became one of my favourite bands. Obviously musically Abhorrence – just like Amorphis really – was taking a lot of influence from the Swedish scene, but maybe this is exactly the reason why I liked them so much, as I always preferred the Swedish sound over the Finnish one. Anyway, “Completely Vulgar” compiles all the recordings of Abhorrence plus has some extras, to satisfy our hunger for the pure, classic death metal sound.
In order, side A has the famous 7”EP material, side B has the cult “Vulgar Necrolatry” demo, side C is a live in Turku 1990 recording and finally side D features the rehearsal recording, which is known as “Macabre Masquarade” demo from 1990. Obviously sides A and B are the most amazing for me. The EP is just an awesome piece of death metal and the demo is not far behind, really! Those two recordings belong to my favourites ever and to listen to them is like the most thrilling experience. Imagine death metal, which from one hand has so much in common with the early Swedish demo bands like Nihilist, Dismember, Carnage, but also takes a lot of influence of gore / grind bands, including the horrid, maggot infected, decaying tunes from Carcass, Repulsion and Autopsy.… This is what Abhorrence was and “Vulgar Necrolatry” and “Abhorrence” are just killer, classic death metal releases, with such outstanding songs like “Pestilential Mists”, “Holy Laws of Pain”, “Vulgar Necrolatry” and “Devourer of Souls”. If you don’t know them, then you’ve got no idea and respect for the legendary scene.
The gig from Turku, from 1990, is something what has been probably added only to extend the time of the “Completely Vulgar”, as otherwise there would only be something like 25 minutes of music. But let’s be honest, the sound quality of this like recording is just very, very poor and if you don’t know the songs and the riffs, then they’ll be for you like badly recorded noise, nothing more. From the other hand such bootleg quality live recordings have their charm and sometimes, in few cases, I can listen to them, even if it’s not something what can really shred to pieces. This Turku recording is OK, in the slower parts you can easily hear what the riffs are plus the low, guttural vocal is also present… more problems start in faster, grinding parts, which are just damn messy and unreadable, but fuck that. I’d rather treat this bootleg live recording as a bonus, which do need really has to be listened to, unless you really want to. The rehearsal recording – which on the LP version has seven tracks – also have pretty poor audio quality, but it definitely is better than the Live in Turku and I must say that I really like it. “Macabre Masquerade” has all the best Abhorrence songs, plus some new ones like “The Macabre Masquerade” and “Adoration of Abscessed Cadavers”.
So, I do recommend you checking “Completely Vulgar”, it doesn’t matter if you an old fan of the band or someone new into this music – in both cases this release is a fundamental stuff to be in your collection. It’s still killer experience to listen to it, despite the 20 plus years, which have passed since Abhorrence existed and one can only think now how far would the band go, if they didn’t split up? Arrrrghhhhhh! Now I’m waiting for the vinyl version of the Gorement’s compilation album!
There is something genuinely gruesome about old school death metal especially when it comes from Scandinavia, and I’m not talking about the big four of Swedeath, (Dismember, Grave, Entombed, Unleashed if you’re clueless about what the hell I’m talking about here), I’m talking about the plague of outfits that saturated the scene way back in the late 80s and early 90s. Granted Sweden was the fertile ground for such acts but a plethora of bands existed in an underground below the underground through tape trading, most of which had productions which made the rising of zombies from fetid soil sound good. Finland’s Abhorrence was the progenitor band of Amorphis through one Tomi Koivsuaari and Impaled Nazarene via Mika Arnkil now called Arc V 666. Officially Abhorrence released one demo and an EP in 1990 both of which are available for free at the bands website. Unofficially a rehearsal tape exists which was leaked but never actually given a proper release until now that is. However this all comes with a large and rather carbuncular BUT as the said rehearsal is only available on the vinyl version alongside a 30 minute live recording from 1990 that makes it onto both the digipack CD and vinyl. For the life of me I cannot understand why the rehearsal is on the vinyl and not the CD version making the title rather misleading unless you buy the vinyl. Even my promo copy does not have the said rehearsal demo apart from a couple of tracks on the live recording. Making recordings exclusive to a particular format is not unusual but when the recordings are this old and most of the newer generation are mp3 or digital kids then buying the CD is pointless, which might be the intention but is rather juvenile. Some people don’t own turntables so unless some wise ass decides to rip the vinyl onto the net then digital listeners will have to do without. Personally I’m an elitist bastard so buying the vinyl version is right up my street but it’s not for everyone and I don’t think Svart has thought about this carefully enough.
Anyway rant over and onto the gnarly death metal that Abhorrence recorded over 20 years ago. 1990 was prime time old school death metal as it is called now, but then it was new school beastliness that attracted many punters away from the technical thrash outings being foisted onto listeners which fell on bored ears, mine included, wanting something faster and more brutal. As with all releases of the time this begins with a short intro from the EP called “The Cult” before the savage chainsaw riff of “Pestilential Mists” that has a guitar tone very similar to Amorphis’s “The Karelian Isthmus”. The downturn into doom is fairly predictable as is the closing riff, but for me the standout here is the bruising drum work and bass playing which sit side by side like a regiment of tanks firing relentlessly at the enemy. This facet runs through the EP as “Holy Laws Of Pain” has a riff that feels like your ears are being peeled off with a old style tin opener. There is a genuine atmosphere of death metal terror about Abhorrence’s music that is ferociously barbaric. The strange and eerily disconcerting “Caught In A Vortex” is disturbing with an ominous fog ridden graveyard being visualised using sonic filthy violence.
The demo rears it’s head with another intro and followed by “Vulgar Necrolatry” a track familiar to death metallers as it was covered by Amorphis on the “Privilege Of Evil” EP from 1993 another scourging slab of vitriol you should check out if you’ve not heard it. As expected the production is more primal than the EP which isn’t to say it is poor, far from it, it’s malicious and vile in all the good ways and is very similar to _____________ (insert favourite Scandinavian band from the early 90s here). As with many death metal releases the influence of Slayer from “Reign In Blood” but more so “Hell Awaits” is vast, granted the tone is deeper, heavier and far more distorted but it is there nonetheless. Listening to “Pleasures Of Putrid Flesh” reminded me of how much variety bands of this time put into their music, by using tempo change and alternating blast beats with treacle thick doom sections that were oppressively gruesome, as the demo closes with “Devourer Of Souls” a vehemently aggressive tune that is outrageously distorted but still sounds OK with it.
The 30 minute live recording is one for tenacious underground death metallers only; the sound is primitive beyond primitive making Hellhammer’s demos sound a pro tools job. It is very difficult to discern the guitar sound from the chest pounding thunderous distortion of the bass and drums. Tuning my ears to it made some difference and as this was recorded from the audience and not the desk you can hear the odd conversation which for those fluent in Finnish could have a listen to. The tone improves on the guitar solos but the crash cymbal is dominantly loud and drowns much of the structure of the songs out. However this isn’t the worst live bootleg recording I’ve heard so purists like myself can take some pleasure from “The Macabre Masquerade” and “Adoration of Abscessed Cadavers”, both songs from the said unreleased rehearsal demo with that vicious guitar sound making you realise how special this era in death metal really was.
Originally written for http://rawnervezine.co.uk/
Prior to this, the only other Abhorrence that I know of is Brazil's death metal squad, after their split with Impiety. Apart from that, there is the little known band out of the same name from Finland as well, releasing only a single demo and EP in 1990 before splitting up shortly after that. This year Svart Records finally releases the long overdue compilation, containing both the demo and the EP, along with a couple of live and rehearsal tracks.
The band lists an whole host of old-school Swedish death metal bands as influences, and this is clearly heard throughout, especially through the abrasive guitar tone that is so prominent in the early releases of Swedish death metal bands such as Entombed and Nihilist, topped by the at times intentionally sloppy, d-beat style of drumming as well. But Abhorrence manages to create a rather distinctive sound of their own, rather than simply stick to the tried and tested Swedish death metal formula, and at times influences from American bands such as Suffocation become clear as well, with a more technical style of playing by the band, giving a slightly more diverse sound compared to the newer bands playing old school death metal that stick to a single style or influence. The bass is also surprisingly audible on the EP tracks, and gives a nice low-end groove to the music. There is also the alternation between short, faster-paced tracks and slower and more intense moments, such as on Caught in a Vortex, where the slower segments seem to mark the impending doom of mankind. Furthermore, I also can't help drawing comparisons with the band's Finnish counterparts such as Archgoat, especially with the monstrous vocals, the crushing atmosphere and the haunting introductory tracks, and this is clearer on the demo tracks on the compilation, though less blasphemous and less crushing.
This being a compilation of songs from different sources, the production quality of the tracks vary. While the production of the EP and demo tracks are rather raw, the individual instruments remain rather clear with none being buried in the mix, retaining the old school feel in the music. The production on the demo tracks are probably my favourite, with the dark and heavy atmosphere that is constantly present. Perhaps the weaker points, sound-wise, on Completely Vulgar are the live tracks that are included, with the guitars often being buried beneath the drums and vocals, resulting in a rather muddy sound. That said though, the energy that is in the air on the live tracks are stunning, and this makes up slightly for what is lacking in the sounds department.
Despite the band putting their demo and EP on their website for free download, Completely Vulgar provides a more fulfilling experience with the bonus tracks that are included. The live tracks display the band's energy in their performances and their true ability as a band, and these certainly make this compilation worthwhile.