Monday, November 1, 2010

Stench - In Putrescence (2010)

Considering the quality of Tribulation's debut The Horror, I was quite surprised to find that members Jonathan and Johannes had another project in much the same vein, meting out a similar style of faster paced, exciting death metal that is very heavy on riffs and raw and loathsome, yet accessible production. The two bands are not exactly the same, of course, and Stench conjures a more potent waft of melody, though there is less of that thrashing, excitable veneer that was so prevalent on the other album. There's also a different vocalist, Micke, with a pretty stock death/blackish rasp that serves the music well, while the bass is more prominent in the recording.

In Putrescence plays out almost like a crisper, melodic balance of Entombed's Left Hand Path and the first few At the Gates records, albeit with a more organic appeal and creepy psychedelic overtones, like the climax to "Ghosts" which leads into the escalating picking sequence that initiates "Breath of the Rottenness". Stench are not only exploring the archaic potential of the death metal genre, but likewise attempting to strangle you with the tendrils of morbid horror, and the songs are varied and narrative enough in their pacing and composition that even the more straightforward possession of "The Blackness" and "The Fire" become engaging at a level that most of the retro wannabe Swedish death acts can rarely rise to. Two of the slower pieces, "Crimson Hills" and "Drenched in the Light", are pestilent with atmosphere and captivating bass lines that moor the pendulous procession of their guitars.

Certainly, Stench lacks some of the energy or in your face vitriol of Tribulation, but the point here is rather to offer an immersion into raw sprigs of morbidity, delivered not through riffs of stunted evil, but overtures of tumescent and depraved melody married to the force of old school 90s Swedish riffing. To this extent, In Putrescence is a forward and curious debut that succeeds as much through its spry, live-like tones as in the actual writing of the riffs. I won't claim that it's on the same explosive level of ripping fun as their other band, but to explore their ideas in a more eerie, subtle context, it's a worthwhile release that never abandons the genre at its still beating, undead heart.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

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