Abhorrence – Completely Vulgar

Author: Brendan Blake

Abhorrence – Completely Vulgar
  • Artist: Abhorrence
  • Album: Completely Vulgar
  • Year of Release: 2012
  • Country: Finland
  • Label: Svart Records
  • Format: Digipack CD
  • Catalogue Number: SVR099CD

Delving into the depths with this one. Before Finnish behemoths Amorphis were born, there was a band called Abhorrence.  Their legacy consists a solitary 7” EP and its preceding demo, which have been tastefully (or not) collected here for your listening pleasure by those nice people at Svart Records. To flesh out the package they have included a bunch of bonus live tracks from back in the day, and detailed liner-notes from pretty much everyone involved in these early recordings. The liner-notes deserve a bit of a note on their own, as they show a refreshing degree of honesty and humility from the contributors, who refrain from some of the more self-aggrandising tropes shown by some of their contemporaries where their early material has been collated for the underground completist listenership.

The compilation opens with Abhorrence’s self-titled EP, consisting of four songs and an obligatory (for the time) but inconsequential intro. Recorded in 1990 (and released early the next year) this remains a bit of a cult gem. Necessarily of its time, this immediately recalls the tone and style of contemporary Swedish death metal acts such as Grave and Dismember, but the band’s influences clearly stretch somewhat further afield, and you can detect a love of Slayer (obviously), US death metal (early Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Master) but also Earache-sponsored grindcore like Carcass and Bolt Thrower.

The production on the EP is improved from the demo (see below) but still underground and cavernous, as you would expect from a release of this era. Doomy, eerie tremolo riffing is interspersed with more ferocious blast segments, and whilst some have commented that this can be disconcerting (in a bad way), I find the entire thing a pretty coherent listen. Vocals are guttural (it’s death metal, but more US-style than Swedish), and the occasional use of keyboards (such as at the beginning of Caught In A Vortex) add to the creepy, doom-laden aura of the entire release.

The ‘Vulgar Necrolatry’ demo follows, and while it follows the same pattern as the EP, is slightly more crudely produced, and the transitions between the fast/slow parts slightly less well smoothly handled, it is worth remembering that the band members were all teenagers when this was recorded! The title track has subsequently gained some level of death metal fame, as Relapse allegedly only agreed to sign Amorphis (guitarist Tommi Koivusaari’s band after the break-up of Abhorrence) if they covered the track for their own first 7” EP for the label. It’s a fantastic track, and has earned its place as an early death metal classic.

The live tracks are a nice bonus for completists, but the sound quality is appalling (it’s an audience-recorded show from 1990 after all). There are then some bonus rehearsal tracks from the so-called ‘Macabre Masquerade’ session, which offer a pair of decent early death metal hitters, but nothing really to write home about (I believe the vinyl edition has more of these rehearsal tracks – I like this release a lot, but not enough to also fork out for a double vinyl effort).

There’s no way I can legitimately sit here and tell you this is an “essential” release. The demo and EP are absolutely fantastic examples of the kind of primitive death metal being released in the early 90s, and I’m never going to tire of listening to this sort of stuff, but these sorts of collections are aimed at collectors and those interested in poking around in the obscure underground of 30 years ago. I am 100% in that camp, so this compilation is totally up my street, but if your interest in old-school death and grind is rather more fleeting, you may wish to look elsewhere.

Score: 85% (for the EP and demo, and overall package)

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