This matchup features two albums and yet is only 97 minutes of audio. Fasten your seatbelts, kids -- Norwegian black metal band Tortorum rushes headlong into the battle, Leeroy Jenkins style. Katabasis starts with two minutes of allegedly mood-setting preamble, and it doesn't do them any favors. But soon enough, the band launch into the music proper. With tracks like In Nameless Nonbeing and Open Wide The Gates Of Chaos, the ambition of the band is manifest; even as they hew very closely to the most stereotypical aspects of black metal, they're aspiring to change up the formula. There are a lot of bright guitar riffs and open air in this music, as if a progressive core is underpinning all of the usual muck. Katabasis is clearly one of the best black metal albums, in part because it reaches beyond the subgenre in surprising and interesting ways.
From across the North Sea comes the very loud and energetic rebuttal from Aborted. The Necrotic Manifesto is a blackened speed metal onslaught, not trying to break new subgenre ground, but rather focusing on mercilessly tearing your face off. An Enumeration Of Cadavers is a perfect example of what you get on this album: break-neck speed, familiar elements, and a guarantee of a furrowed brow and a happy sneer on your hardened face. There are a lot of cliché moments on here (Pinhead quotes were passé by the time the last Hellraiser movie came out, and who can even remember when that was?), but that's to be expected with an album that's a kitchen sink of kitchen sinks. Also, while I've not seen confirmation of this anywhere else, I'm pretty sure that this album is an intentional sampler of Aborted paying homage to (and cribbing riffs from) other bands: Machine Head in The Davidian Deceit, Carcass in Coffin Upon Coffin, Slipknot in a few places, etc. But Aborted still manage to keep the sound their own: sleek, modern, powerful. As a bonus, the final track is an excellent Sepultura that is both slavishly faithful to the original and appropriately up-to-date and fitting with the rest of the music on the album. Long story short, The Necrotic Manifesto never lets up, and poor Tortorum is no match for the pyroclastic flow that is Aborted.
Tonight, Zig will referee the rumble between Rigor Mortis and Beneath!