Aborted – 25 Years of BrutalityWednesday, 15th April 2020
Aborted has been quite consistent in the past decade in getting new material out roughly every two years. What’s been more impressive is how consistent the quality has also been, with the band repeatedly upping the stakes with Global Flatline and continuing to better themselves notably with Retrogore and Terrorvision. So now in 2020, we are on the brink of the band’s newest release, La Grande Mascarade, a 3 song EP that is also meant to celebrate 25 years of Aborted. We talked with vocalist Sven de Caluwé about the milestone and what has led them to success, the new EP, and even some discussion about guest vocalists and side projects.
Dead Rhetoric: You just announced the new EP – what can you say about the 3 tracks that will be on it?
Sven de Caluwé: It’s all new tracks, so there’s nothing recycled there. We wanted to do a little something this year since it marks 25 years of me doing this garbage. So wanted something out for fans and something to see where we are at with evolving the sound and all of that. So the three songs, dare I say, are some of the fastest shit and techiest shit that we have done. But there’s also some groovy parts and the [horror] atmosphere that we have been working on.
Lyrically, it’s a sort of cathartic concept that deals with some things I have been dealing with in the last two years, so it was a way of getting it out there and out of me [laughs]. We recorded everything ourselves and then Kohle [Kristian Kohle Kohlmannslehner] mixed it.
Dead Rhetoric: You usually are putting things out about every two years. Are you planning for another full-length at this point, or is it too early?
de Caluwé: We are, but we are writing and it won’t be for this year, but next year. It won’t be every two years this time around because we toured quite a bit for Terrorvision so we really want to take the time. The Napalm Death tour in the States is the only thing we are going to be doing [ed note: tour has been cancelled since date of interview due to COVID-19] showwise. The rest of the year will be spent writing and recording.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that you’ve kind of hit a stride in more recent years with the last two efforts – with the focus on ‘80s horror, atmosphere, and death metal?
de Caluwé: I’d hope so [laughs]! We are just doing our best, and we are trying to figure out how to evolve. We are trying to keep things brutal but also interesting, and see where we can take the sound further into the whole concept. I guess we are also trying to figure out how we can bring it together even more, sonically, as a concept.
Dead Rhetoric: You lost Mendel last year on guitar and had a number of changes through the years. What challenges are there in keeping a consistent line-up as a band gets older?
de Caluwé: Things have been pretty stable in the last few years. We had to let Mendel go with the Hell over Europe tour because I felt that him and the band weren’t looking in the same direction anymore. I think he just wanted to, from what I understood, he didn’t enjoy being on stage as much anymore. He wanted to focus on his relationship and doing the whole producer/studio stuff. I think he’s much happier doing that. For us it’s also better to be in a situation where everyone who is in the band and touring is glad to be there.
But the challenges are exactly that. Sometimes throughout our career, we were unlucky to have dealt with some interesting figures [laughs], to put it that way. But most of the time, when things don’t work out – life gets in the way or things happen and priorities shift. We have been going for 25 years and this kind of lifestyle isn’t for everybody.
Dead Rhetoric: On the other hand, what has allowed Aborted to succeed in death metal for 25 years now?
de Caluwé: I think it’s just the drive and passion for this kind of music. It’s obviously not pop music, it’s not Madonna, it’s not even Metallica. If you are doing this shit for that long, it’s either you are dumb as shit, or you really like doing it [laughs]. There’s no big money to be made, there’s no fame…let’s be honest, it’s very extreme music and it’s not for everybody. But we’ve been doing it for so long and it’s clear that we enjoy it and we get something out of it. Even playing in front of a room full of fans who really get what you are going for and what you are doing – having a good time doing it is the most important thing.
Dead Rhetoric: You have contributed a number of guest vocals for various acts over the years. What do you like about doing this?
de Caluwé: I actually have to record some tomorrow, speaking of that [laughs]. If I really like the band or if it’s friends, then I will gladly do it. I hate being in the studio, so it’s kind of counterproductive. But its fun and I don’t know why people keep asking me to ruin their records, but I’ll do it [laughs]!
Dead Rhetoric: On the flipside, there are usually some guest vocals on an Aborted album. Is it a matter of having friends involved or is it that there are occasionally certain goals that you are shooting for?
de Caluwé: It’s a bit of a mixture. I’m enough on the record, it’s to put something else there if the song needs it. A lot of times it’s about having friends involved. We have never had someone had on a record that we aren’t friends with, or at least a respect or fan aspect from our side. We always try to do it that way to keep things fun and interesting. A lot of times, I’ll be very careful picking the guest on a song with whether it needs it or not.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve also done a number of bands/projects outside of Aborted too – does this help keep things creatively fresh for you?
de Caluwé: Maybe [laughs]? Honestly, the music has been written mostly by Ken [Bedene] for the last couple of records. He also plays guitar and he’s pretty damn good at it, just like the drums. He’s a talented motherfucker so he has been writing a lot of shit, with the rest of us contributing ideas. I’ll mainly work on structures and whatnot. He’s doing a lot of the stuff, which is interesting because he doesn’t listen to a lot of other stuff. He doesn’t listen to a lot of other extreme music all that much, when he isn’t busy playing it. I think maybe that’s what is part of keeping things fresh as well. He’s unbiased, in a way, or at least I think so.
Dead Rhetoric: I did want to bring up one side project specifically, Oracles – is there anything going on there?
de Caluwé: No. We did a handful of shows, and life kind of got in the way. When we did the records, and there were a few labels interested but that kind of went away. The guy that put it out barely promoted it and it just kind of sunk in. We did another single because we wanted to do something new. The band isn’t broken up, but the singer [Sanna Salou] owns a tattoo studio, so she is very busy managing that. Mendel is doing his stuff, and Ken and I are busy with Aborted. The bass player moved to Germany and he works at a TV broadcasting company. Everybody is just really busy with their own shit. Steve [Miller] is also a CEO of his own company right now. I think it’s more a question of if we feel the need to, and if we want to do it. But right now there’s just too much other shit going on in everyone’s life. It’s not really a priority right now.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel there’s been an overlooked album in the band’s history?
de Caluwé: Well I hope that there’s two that are overlooked, but other than that I’m pretty happy. I hope that they’ve been forgotten in the past and stay there. That would be good [laughs]. I’ve been pretty vocal about my hate for them in the past, so I’m sure that longtime fans know which ones I’m talking about [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: To me, there’s always been an element of humor with Aborted. Do you feel that with the music, you are able to get away with that sort of approach? I’m thinking along the lines of some of the t-shirts you’ve done in the past.
de Caluwé: Yeah, it’s a part of who we are. We take things very seriously – we are serious about the music but at the same time, I guess that really goes hand in hand with the whole old school ‘80s horror thing. There were some great movies and horror shit going on back then, but it was also very tongue-in-cheek and cheesy as fuck. We are a bunch of fucking nerds and literally, that’s how it comes across in say, the merchandising and our online presence. It’s really just who we are. We are trying to be honest and be ourselves, and that’s the sense of humor we have. We aren’t going to pretend to be a bunch of psychopaths or super serious guys if we are just video game/horror movie nerds playing brutal music.
Dead Rhetoric: We are in a new decade at this point, is there anything you’d like to see from death metal itself?
de Caluwé: I don’t know – it will be interesting to see how things keep evolving. They’ve always been evolving if you look at death metal back in the ‘90s and look at it now. It’s completely different. A lot of people have to label everything, with deathcore and death metal, brutal death metal, and all of that. But to me, there’s good music and bad music in everything. It’ll just be interesting to see where the future of the genre goes to, and what we are looking at. It looks like clean-ish vocals are being implemented a lot more.
But it was a thing in the early 2000s if you look at bands like Wicked Innocence. Cephalic Carnage did it now and then too, but it seems to be done a lot more, and more accepted now. If it works with the band and sound, then why not. It’s not something we are going to do but I’m interested to see where that aspect of the genre is heading towards.
Dead Rhetoric: I’m curious about that myself, as there’s that faction as well as the ones that instantly turn their nose up the second you put a clean vocal on there.
de Caluwé: That’s true. But people are going to complain about anything anyway. You could put out the most retarded heavy thing you could think of and there’s still going to be some keyboard warriors whining about something. So who cares [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: What’s planned for 2020 with Aborted, outside of the EP?
de Caluwé: We are going to focus fully on writing the next record, and probably record it before the end of the year for, if everything goes well, early 2021 release.