The accompanying press sheet to ABORYM’s sixth full-length lists almost 30 “key selling points” why the greater Metal community should check out “Dirty”, and while I respect the thoroughness of Agonia Records’ PR folk, they could have just included a single selling-point: the simple, irrefutable fact that ABORYM kick all kinds of ass.
If 2006’s “Generator” was an airtight synthesis between Black and Industrial, and 2010’s conceptual “Psychogrotesque” was a nightmarish jaunt through twisted sonic vistas then “Dirty” is an album that pays homage to their established sound while at the same time showcasing an increasing willingness to expand upon it. At once more accessible and playful than “Psychogrotesque”, “Dirty” is a multi-faceted beast that traverses a lot of ground – from hard Industrial to psychedelia to Post-Rock to Black Metal. Granted, a lot of these elements had been evident in their sound but they are given more breathing room this time around.
“Irreversible Crisis” and “The Day the Sun Stopped Shining” both pay homage to raw Black Metal while simultaneously meshing it with theatrical semi-narration that somewhat reeks of classic MARILYN MANSON (the former track), and liberal swathes of Art Noise and Post-Rock that will have fans of SIGUR ROS drooling from the mouth (the latter track). They toy around with complex Math-like song structures on “Helter Skelter Youth” (which, ironically, also includes an attempt at a memorable chorus), pure unbridled Thrash-laced Black Metal on “Raped by Daddy” and – just to appease more orthodox fans – numbers like “The Factory of Death” and the title track see them reverting back to a more ‘typical’ ABORYM sound that is all about icy riffs, harsh industrial noise and Bard “Faust” Eithun’s always dependable drumming that switches effortlessly between no-nonsense blasting and more simplistic rhythmic beats that beautifully compliments the electronic elements of their sound. The absolute highlight, however, is “I Don’t Know”, which features not just some surprisingly emotive Goth-like clean vocals but a hauntingly beautiful guitar solo that easily makes it one of the finest songs they had ever penned.
As if the brilliance of the album proper wasn’t enough, “Dirty” also comes with a second disc featuring scintillating cover versions of classic IRON MAIDEN, PINK FLOYD and NINE INCH NAILS songs, in addition to alternative rerecorded songs from their “Kali Yuga Bizarre” and “Fire Walk with Us” albums and a bonus song. As is to be expected, they absolutely nail FLOYD’s “Comfortably Numb” and NIN’s “Hurt”, faithfully recreating the desolate feeling of the former and the emotional frailty of the latter.
When all is said and done, “Dirty” easily ranks as one of the Italians’ finest hours. The disparate mix of styles proved a tad disconcerting at first but successive listens revealed the inherent brilliance of their song writing, and the album eventually bloomed into something that may be less intense than some of their prior works but full of spirit, emotional gravitas and confidence. I won’t be surprised if this one ends up somewhere in my year-end top 20.
(Online July 14, 2013)