International death metal monsters Aborted have just released ‘Maniacult’, their follow-up to 2018’s masterpiece that was ‘Terrorvision’. Feeling the usual need to satisfy my curiosity when it comes to new releases, I met up with bassist Stefano Franceschini on video chat for a quick discussion about the new record. We talked cults and their impact on society today, fan reactions to the music and what still drives the band after all these years.
GRIMM: Welcome, Stefano. Thanks for doing this!
Stefano: No problem, man. Happy to meet you.
GRIMM: So, ‘Maniacult‘ is upon us. Were you able to top ‘Terrorvision‘? Was it more a matter of improvement, evolution or continuation? What do you think?
Well, personally, I would like to think of the album as an improving continuation of ‘Terrorvision’. Because in a way the new record takes off right where we left in terms of atmosphere, song structure, and darkness. By darkness, I mean dark twists and melodies that you can hear not just in the title track, per se, but also in tracks like ‘Vespertine Decay’, ‘Exquisite Covinous Drama’, or ‘The Final Absolution’. There’s a lot of dark melody going on on ‘Terrorvision’, but also on ‘Retrogore’. But without going too much into detail, I will say we made sure to conserve the vibe of the last couple of records. At the same time it was also our mission to go back to the original Aborted sound. And I’m thinking of records like ‘Engineering the Dead’ or ‘The Archaic Abattoir’, where the riff element is more present and foregrounded.
GRIMM: I get what you’re saying. I noticed you toned down the melodious hook for ‘Maniacult‘, which I thought was prevalent on the previous album. That’s one of the reasons why I loved it so much: the pairing of melody and heaviness or brutality was perfect and refreshing. So now, you’re focusing on the brutal aspect again, and it shows.
When I heard the album title, and read some of the lyrics, the title track especially, I was instantly reminded of the lunatic, evangelist pastor Kenneth Copeland. You know who I’m talking about? The guy who wanted to blow the coronavirus away by channeling the wind of God through his breath.
Of course! I watched his video during quarantine and found it funny and scary at the same time. Even his face creeps me out. I would never want to have anything to do with him. As a fanatic Christian, you follow this kind of personality of course. And if I had him in front of me, I would probably be a little persuaded as well, you know, religion aside *laughs*. But that’s kind of a smart observation, I would say. Because, in a way ‘Maniacult’ capitalizes on what’s really going on. I mean, the Lovecraftian join-the-cult rhetoric you hear more and more. It’s been evident in the lyrics, the artwork, the concept, the title and so on. And in some memes that have been circulating in the Facebook group that we have. All of this imagery can be seen as a funny metaphor, but it’s meaningful too in relation to the current state of the world. We see a lot of misinformation these days, and I’m not just referring to the vaccination debate. All it takes is for someone with some influence over the internet and social media to spread misinformation in order to confuse people who will then blindly believe anything they’re fed. So in that sense, ‘Maniacult’ is also a thematical continuation of ‘Terrorvision’.
GRIMM: That’s not just applicable to the times we live in but it’s been going on, well, for the whole of humanity. I’ve got an unhealthy fascination with cults and the cult leader persona. I find the whole idea of influential manipulators or organizations who have the ability to exert control over willing masses just as awesome as they are terrifying. The more current organizations thriving on this would be the Flat Earth Society and QAnon. Are there any songs in particular that criticize them, or are you trying not to point fingers and let the lyrics speak for themselves?
The title track definitely feeds off of those themes. You’ve seen the vizualizer that rolls those fake headlines? Well, we would make up a couple of “real fake news articles” and just expand on them. We would come up with these crazy headlines and try to make them sound even more stupid. It covers all the crazy going on right now. But ‘Maniacult’ covers more than just mental instability and mental illness as a personal disorder and disturbance. The lyrics are a lot deeper than the video and all its imagery. Take the chorus, for example, “I, a monolithic silver tongue will lead you to your death” is all about manipulation, control and brainwashing.