Thursday, July 8, 2010

Foul Stench - Eternal Rot (2010)

Foul Stench were an Ohio band that existed at the demo level in the 90s, in fact releasing a trio of demos that received only minor attention in the underground. Come the 21st century, they have reformed with a more serious drive and a new drummer in Brian Harris (who has played in a number of progressive/power metal acts like Firewind, Zanister, Darkology, Kenziner and so forth), known here by the handle 'Stool Sample'. Very clever. The rest of the band also carry names like 'King Stench' on vocals and guitar, 'Rotten Innards' on guitar, and 'Rotting Limb' on bass, so you soon get the impression that this is going to be a truly old school death metal sound with perhaps a bit of theatrics and stage props involved.

The coolest element of Foul Stench is that, in reaching so far back for their influences, as they are themselves old and wise gurus of gore, they actually come out sounding more original than the lion's share of retro/revival acts currently saturating the genre. Instead of just aping their heroes Autopsy, Incantation, Death and Possessed, they actually derive their inspiration from roots extreme metal and punk bands like Bathory, Venom, Napalm Death, Celtic Frost, Minor Threat and Black Flag, and then infuse a little Florida goodness via old Obituary/Xecutioner or Death. You won't find the cavernous production here or the super guttural vocals hovering at the edge of your bowel capacity, just some sincere death metal which is at times just as much thrash, grind or hardcore. The band was formed 20 years ago, and the album sounds like it probably should have come out 20 years ago. That's a compliment, by the way.

To be clear, you aren't going to find a whole lot of amazing, inspiration riffs hidden among the selection on Eternal Rot, but you will be raging and banging your neck through many of the 13 songs and 42 minutes of playtime. A few are forgettable, like the chug gone grinding of the brief "Sick", the goofy stupidity of "Packin' Puss", or the brief Napalm Death bursts of scatological "Fist of Shit" that lapse into a bluesy solo and an old school Death rhythm. Actually, that last one is not so bad, but there are far better here. "The Drip" hits with a lot of impact, rapidly chugging forces that burst into grinding fervor, with King Stench's weighted, blunt vocals. The track after that, "Frozen" has this truly endearing simplicity, reminiscent of Obituary and Autopsy, with some great butcher block chords. I also love the raging, old school thrash/mosh that opens the title track, and the thick bass of "Sores" which might as well have been written by Unseen Terror, Napalm Death or even Nasum.

Foul Stench have a pretty well balanced attack, fusing faster and slower material so the listener doesn't quickly tire of their silly old school lyrics. The production of the record is quite clear, and the one thing holding it back from a truly archaic sound, but it also feels honest enough to be pulled off directly in the live setting. Again, these are not riffs that you would hear and then instantly call your friends up to boast about. There's little to no complexity, little no to innovation other than the fact they don't just ape the other 5,372 'retro' death metal bands who either want to sound like Entombed or Incantation. It makes perfect sense, since these guys are an actual 90s band, displaced into a new century of suck. They don't plan on leaving without kicking some asses, impaling some poseurs upon ice picks and taking us all out with them.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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