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*pointless two minute intro*
Abhorrence’s Vulgar Necrolatry represents what is probably the earliest example of the Finnish death metal sound; the darkly melodic harmonizations, short, repetitious tremolo picked phrases and midrange, de-emphasized vocals (these “softer” gutturals would become characteristic of many of the European death metal bands as compared to their more explosive American comrades) set the precedent for bands like Amorphis, Demigod, and Adramelech. As such, this is a quite short, but historically important ode to death and all that is decayed, that will be of interest to those looking for early attempts at European death metal. Production is dank, rotten and contains tape fuzz which reaches Transilvanian Hunger levels, but suitably, the highest value is placed on guitar clarity; the visible bass presence is quite welcome as well.
Abhorrence create quite a compelling atmosphere on this demo; the vile production coupled with the focus on morbidity of melody create a clear aesthetic of total death embrace. Not unlike their immediate ancestors, the 80’s death metallers, Abhorrence utilize short chromatic riffs or “horror movie” melodies gratuitously, both in the traditional tremolo picking or in slow, morbid, crawling segments which usually end up being harmonized higher in absolute parallel motion. Although probably musically uncouth, these mirror perfect harmonizations; which were becoming ever more rampant in the death metal of the time, work perfectly in the context of the demo, creating that rising sense of fear that old horror movie music scores sought to achieve. These morbid melodies are often flavored by those wonderfully rotten, sawing, chugging, riffs that Suffocation would later make popular adding a distinct rhythmic flavor to the demo. Sawing against the motion of the drums, they create a sense of movement within movement, or perhaps if you like, maggots crawling over a walking corpse. Guitar harmonics frequently squeal and squirm, disgustingly intruding their way into the proceedings, while solos are abrupt Slayer chromatic runs that in the usual death metal tradition, are only appealing as swift bursts of random, deconstructive, thought. Being juvenile songwriters I must applaud the lack of repetition here, segments rarely repeat, though some blasting grindy sections are quite similar to each other and seem to serve as mere bridges to reach the next dirge, leaving parts of this demo feeling fragmentary, as if placeholders for better ideas. Still, this demo remains endearing for its mood, even if musically under thought and too abrupt at times.
I believe much potential in atmosphere can be gleaned from these early recordings, as juvenile as they may be, though sadly they were never really revisited. (though rerecorded) These early, youthful, morbid exultations have an honest and clear conception of theme and its representation, that drive the music of this release; not just an attempt at style, and that’s what gives demos such as this a more lasting appeal than many of their contemporaries. This comes highly recommended to those who wish to hear the history of the Finnish death style or those who seek an early attempt at atmosphere within death metal. Members of this project went on to form Amorphis.
Since I’m the biggest Amorphis fan in the known universe, it’s a wonder that I’d never thoroughly checked out Abhorrence until earlier last year. I’d heard vague rumours that they were classics of the early Finnish death metal scene, but I guess I just never considered that a band that was active for less than two years who only released a short demo and an EP could have much to offer but, my friends, let me sincerely admit that I was gravely mistaken. Abhorrence fucking rule, and tell everyone you know this fact.
The Vulgar Necrolatry demo is an obscure little gem of Finnish death metal lore, but a damned significant one at that. It was the first recorded piece of music in which Tomi Koivusaari lent his riffs of ungodlike mastery, before going on to mastermind Amorphis, alongside Esa Holopainen, of then Violent Solution notoriety. Also, albeit a decade after Abhorrence’s gruesome demise, Mika ‘Arkki’ Arnkil, would go on to provide bass for Impaled Nazarene. So, two prominent members of two of Finland’s most influential metal bands played together in a band in their teens, and what did it sound like? Well, disgustingly primitive and violent death metal, naturally. Sure, the production is about as harsh and gruff as it comes, but in a much more tasteful way than bedroom bands. The riffs trudge through the grain like a thick blizzard and the solos squeal through the mix like a tortured banshee.
The opening and title track is clearly the centerpiece of the release, and it’s no wonder Amorphis still play this song live. After the eerie, yet admittedly needless intro, the riffs stomp forth and never let up. Merging between a mid and fast pace, this song never ceases to decimate. The vocals are heavily Carcass inspired, and while the music is certainly brutal, there are still melodic moments which already remind one of the more epic moments of Amorphis’ debut, The Karelian Isthmus. Top it off with a raging solo near the end, and here you have one of Abhorrence’s best songs. What surprises me most about this release is the fact that if you can contain yourself from headbanging for a split second, and look beyond the filthy production, you’ll notice that much of the music is legitimately catchy. I could hum the breakdown at about 50 seconds into Pleasures of Putrid Flesh all day long.
This is definitely an example of a classic demo in desperate need of a good reissue. This, along with Abhorrence’s EP, really does belong in the collection of fans of the early Scandinavian and British death metal scenes. It will remind you of Dismember, it will remind you of Carcass and early Bolt Thrower, but it will also offer you something different. The filthy production and putrid atmosphere do well to hide some haunting melodic breaks which really is the charm of Abhorrence. This is music to dig up festering graves to, or desecrate holy tombstones. That or, you know, just get drunk and headbang with the bros.
Abhorrence is another cult band in the Finnish musical panorama. A status reached with just two releases, soon become very rare pieces for the collectors. That period in Finland was great for the vast number of bands playing this genre, the gore death metal. These bands are not famous but are quite good anyway even if I believe that Abhorrence belong, in their sickness, to the most intelligent side of this genre in that country.
The music is always very inspired by the gore grind/death metal of bands like Repulsion and Carcass but there is always something different in the riffage that somehow leads to the American death metal scene and groups like Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel. During the fast tremolo picking parts on the chords and the mid paced parts those influences from the band of David Vincent are easily audible, along with a similar guitars tune.
The atmosphere is rotten and putrid but the production is not so much. The grind parts, full of blast beats, are a bit too noisy but the lead guitars lines are always well audible. The groovy mid tempo parts are very good and they contribute in creating an excellent mix of sonorities. It’s very hard to choose a stand out track because the melody or the catchiness are not the most important things but the good level of technique and the burden of violence make this demo quite enjoyable.
The vocals are not too growling and this is another good point. Funebre and Demilich for example had too guttural vocals but here they are more “suffocated” style and more American. The lyrics are always gore inspired as you can see and they fit into this sound quite well. All in all, a small, very important demo that should be known by every death metal lovers. Abhorrence was already a quite mature band here and it’s a pity that a group like this couldn’t continue their musical career.
Abhorrence was a pre-Amorphis death metal band that managed to get signed to the now infamous rip-off label Seraphic Decay and release one 7" EP. Of course, Amorphis themselves put out some killer death metal on their first EP "Privilege of Evil". There was a song on there called "Vulgar Necrolatry", which not many people may know was originally recorded by Abhorrence on this demo of the same title. The music and production on this tape is raw and totally stripped down when compared to "Privilege of Evil", but alone it stands as an influencial release that got lots of attention when it came out. The songs offer a good mixture of slow, doomy sections and fast, blasting parts. Some insane guitar solos are also present, which is always great to hear.
After a bonechilling ritual-like intro called "The Cult", the title song kicks in. Immediately you can tell that the production here is bare bones, especially in the drums which are recorded very low in the mix. It's so lo-fi that the bass drum is barely audible! But despite the drum production, the guitars and bass actually sound very good. The guitar tone is amazing - one of the darkest I've ever heard on a debut demo. The vocalist sounds very similar to the singer on "Vulgar Necrolatry" from the Amorphis EP. I'm not 100% sure if it's the same guy, but if you listen to that EP then you'll notice the difference in vocals on that song when compared to the other tracks. You can actually understand him fairly well on the demo, despite the accent... But back to the song: It seems to be played a little bit slower than on the Amorphis EP, but not to the point where it doesn't even sound like the same riffs. The haunting guitar part about midway through the song always sends chills down my spine!
The next song is "Pleasures of Putrid Flesh". The lyrics are totally cheesy, dealing with eating cadavers, genitals, etc. I actually never read the words, but as I mentioned before it's easy to understand the vocalist when he sings. Pretty cool. The song itself is not so generic, instead it's probably the stand-out composition on the demo. There's a completely evil bass solo somewhere in the middle that will tear your skin off. While "Vulgar Necrolatry" had 2 or 3 dark riffs, this song has 5 or 6. Abhorrence just continue bombarding the listener with utter darkness and fear. Towards the end, the music slows down and the vocalist sings "I find no pleasure in life..." during which I think the coolest riff on the entire demo is played. It's simple, doomy and filled with haunting melody - classic Finnish death!
The final song is called "Devourer of Souls" - I can name at least 2 other bands (Broken Hope and Summon) that have used this same title before. I guess it's a common lyrical theme for starting death metal groups. This song is the thrashiest one yet, filled with some fast guitar solos and cool thrash beats for maximum headbanging. But then once again, a haunting doom riff appears out of nowhere and you're reminded that the darkness is not yet over. This particular guitar riff reminds me of some melodies used on Disgrace's "Inside the Labyrinth..." demo, which is one of my favorite demos of all time so of course I was happy to hear it!
This demo is definitely for die-hards. The production is just too minimal for the mainstream death metal audience to accept, but once you get past the sound then you'll learn to appreciate this demo for what it is. A masterpiece of darkness.