Aborym – Dirty (2013)
It’s not a return to the approach Aborym used on Kali Yuga Bizarre, but Dirty might be the strongest record they’ve released since then. While Generator was an overall loss for me in the long run, and I skipped over Psychogrotesque entirely due to disappointing samples, this album seems to reinvigorate the band’s sound with a fresh aesthetic and improved integration of metal and electronic music techniques. On the other hand, the songwriting suffers from many of the same flaws that previous albums did; more on that later.
Shockingly, Dirty is… well… dirty. The guitars sound much filthier than they did on previous efforts, with less crunch and fewer chugs (if any), and the overall mix is much less treble heavy than it was in the past. This results in an overall muddier sound, although the electronics generally come through well. Dirty also has substantially more clean singing than its predecessors, which helps vary up the sound. The electronic side of things sees the most improvement from earlier works, primarily by drifting further from the symphonic undertones of previous albums (or overtones in the case of Kali Yuga Bizarre) into more synthetic forms. The aesthetic remains a few years behind trends – for instance there are no dubstep elements as far as I can tell. Fans of that may have to wait a few years to see Aborym’s take on that, assuming they ever experiment with it at all.
Oddly enough, Aborym’s songwriting on this album reminds me more of the ‘accessible’ side of industrial metal – see my review of Demanufacture by Fear Factory for my take on that. Either way, there are some obvious Nine Inch Nails references here – the bonus disc of the deluxe edition even includes a cover of “Hurt” from The Downward Spiral. The lyrics also take a similar vaguely personal turn at times (although they’re best described as mostly sex and societal decay), although comparing lyrical themes is a tenuously useful tool at best. Perhaps the major cause of this is the general deemphasis of metallic elements in the mix; while the compositional style is nonlinear and riff based, the aforementioned production changes play a major role in making more accessible elements stand out. There’s also a lot of repetition – sometimes a song dwells on an idea for over a minute, which usually feels like padding. Given that Dirty is only 49 minutes long, that’s a bad thing.
I don’t know how long my affectation for this work is going to last, but I do think actual improvements have been made from previous albums. It’s not entirely aesthetics – there’s a better sense of flow to the songs than before, although the coherence of the song structures still leaves somewhat to be desired. Either way, regardless of whether you like or dislike it, Dirty at least points the way forwards for Aborym – another album like this or better, and I might call it a full fledged revival.
Highlights: “Dirty”, “Bleedthrough”, “Helter Skelter Youth”