With vocalist Jukka providing the only putrid fruits – one demo tape and one 7” EP – of Abhorrence’s brief amok run for download on the band’s website for over ten years already, getting to know this short-lived but significant bunch wasn’t much of an ordeal. While I couldn’t completely relate to the high praise given to the band by some, Abhorrence was yet another delightfully depraved discovery, and songs like “Vulgar Necrolatry” – perhaps better known from the repertoire of guitarist Tomi’s succeeding band Amorphis – and “Disintegration of Flesh” stood out as some of the most malignant monuments of domestic death metal mastery.
A release compiling the Abhorrence discography had been “in the works” for years, but the breaking wheel didn’t start properly turning until 2011 when the band hooked up with Svart Records. The consummately comprehensive collection Completely Vulgar was spewed forth on CD and double-LP the following year, finally making the band’s works available as one carefully crafted package, not only including their two official releases, but also live and rehearsal recordings, along with a booklet packing old flyers and photos, lyrics, and even liner notes from Luxi Lahtinen and all the band members. While the bonus material does little for those other than completist diehards, or those who enjoy utterly primitive recordings, two songs that were never properly captured add to its relevance. However, the first half of the contents is the meat here, presenting some of the most brutal baby steps of Finnish extreme metal.
I had occasionally witnessed Amorphis playing “Vulgar Necrolatry” at their gigs, enthralling the fans of the early material, and confusing the dead mainstream fish who had just come to hump their fellow concert-goer’s back to the latest radio hit while taking photos of themselves doing so. Jukka had also guested on the song both on record and on stage for Stench of Decay – a young Pori horde effectively channeling the same slaughterous spirit as Abhorrence and many other early 90’s Finnish death squads. However, I doubt that many were expecting to get a chance to witness the real deal until December 2012, when two Finnish summer festivals announced the inclusion of the reanimated Abhorrence in their line-up.
The band already took a false start at the end of May, though, playing a warm-up show of sorts in Helsinki alongside Deathchain. While they were initially going under the hilariously what-the-fuck pseudonym Bob Horrence, the true identity of the evening’s headliner had widely come to light already several weeks before the event. A fair amount of oldheads and young fans of the old school had gathered at Bar Loose on this Thursday night, curious to see how the middle-aged men would be able to execute the frantic assaults from their youth after 20+ years.
Drummer Rainer Tuomikanto was the only new and younger face in the fold, no doubt possessing a bit more impressive of a résumé and skillset than his predecessor had when Abhorrence was starting up. This could also be heard as a pinch of additional technicality in the drumming – and though not botheringly so, I can understand why newer old-scholars Lie in Ruins didn’t want him permanently banging their cans… Despite decades of dormancy, Jukka’s growl packed a surprising amount of youthful power, which wasn’t absent from his energetic stage performance either. Bassist Juice, another old fart who hadn’t lost his hair to the years, was also seemingly having a blast taking this aural trip back to the “Pestilential Mists” of his adolescence and teaching the younger generation the “Holy Laws of Pain.”
Although not particularly bubbling over with inertia – which wasn’t a surprise considering how he usually is with his other groups – Tomi was clearly enjoying his time on stage, exchanging looks of nostalgic amusement with the other members, while other guitarist Kalle seemed fully concentrated on just handling his instrument. Perhaps he had gotten a bit rusty over the years, and was completely “Caught in a Vortex” just trying to keep up with his nowadays much more experienced brother-in-strings. However, the musical outcome of their cooperation gets no complaints from me, with the razor-sharp solos deserving a special thumbs-up for their chaotic lunacy.
Apart from bludgeoning through all of the demo and EP material, the two “lost” Abhorrence tracks were also included in the set. This presentation of “The Macabre Masquerade” and “Adoration of Abscessed Cadavers” brought the songs to an entirely new level when compared to the messy live and rehearsal recordings, making me wonder what masterpieces the band might’ve been able to come up with had they not gone their separate ways so soon. Who knows, maybe after they’re done with this short stretch of gigs, they could do a brief visit to the studio, and wrap up the Abhorrence legacy by finally getting these two mean monstrosities on the reels?
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