Amazingly ‘In putrescence’ is Stench’s debut album. Astonishingly, because this is the work of a band who are utterly self-possessed without being arrogant, talented without being show-offs and the record itself is flawlessly produced with the perfect balance being struck between the clarity required in a heavy record and the rawness that separates the truly able, underground talent from the posers who use expensive, shiny production to hide the fact that they only know three chords and that their singer can’t actually growl for more than three minutes without a throat sweet.
This, however, is the real deal. A massive sounding, vicious, abrasive, bloody mess that will linger long after the thirty-eight-odd minutes of music have slammed through your system and left you lying on the floor in a state of nervous exhaustion. Check out run-away opening ‘The blackness’ for proof of the dark goods that Stench deal in. While the guitars are ferocious, they are also just slow enough to sound truly heavy while the drums sound as if they’re about to smash through the wall. But all that is as nothing compared to the hate-filled, venomous vocals which issue forth from the speakers like some viscous toxic slime. As an opening it’s a piece of extraordinary confidence and skill and it’s clear from the off that Stench aren’t messing about – this is their art and it sounds amazing. ‘Face of death’ is equally impressive. A razor sharp slab of hate-filled filth, it’s the dark sound of a band performing at the top of their game and there are few death metal acts out there who can match this level of ferocious clarity. Slowing the pace considerably is the doom-laden ‘ghosts’, which adopts a machine-like chug rather than lose itself in a ferocious blur of speed and it sounds all the more powerful for it. Utterly convincing, for the unprepared it’s rather like being trapped into the headlights of an oncoming truck with no way to sidestep it – Stench are that brutal and utterly unforgiving.
Showing a more technical side, ‘beneath the rottenness’ allows Stench to indulge in a briefly melodic intro before putting the pedal to the metal once again for a song that reeks of sulphur and brimstone. Hinting at the demonic attack of Abscess it’s a fine song that brings a close to part 1 (the record is divided in two) and promises great things of part 2. The second side opens with the ferocious attack of ‘the fire’, the fastest, nastiest track on the record that will have death metal fans the world over sitting up and taking note. With the drums smashing the listener into a pulp and the vocals ever-more unhinged, this is the sort of release that metal fans pray to the unholy for and if you’re into the darker side of metal it is at this point that ‘in putrescence’ slip form the ‘great’ to the ‘essential’ category. Cementing that opinion is the slow lurch and grind of ‘crimson hills’ which recalls the eerie bleakness of Darkthrone but couples it with a bruising production that sees every surging riff heavy enough to sever your spine. ‘Drenched in the light’ is another doomy number that sounds rather like a rawer Kataklysm crossed with ‘gothic’-era paradise Lost, with the vocals ramped up and shot through with pure black hatred. It’s also my favourite track on an album with no shortage of awesome tracks. ‘The ones who rot’ closes the record on such a note that you look back and realise that there’s not a single filler track here, not a note or vocal wasted. Utterly ruthless in their editing and song-writing, the band have delivered an album of entirely killer material and, in the process, delivered a debut record that no self-respecting death metal fan can be without.
Drawing on a wealth of influences and a ferocious talent, Stench have created a dark and unholy monster of the album that will, hopefully, be the beginning of a lengthy career. With aspects of doom, black and even traditional heavy metal all making fleeting appearances, this is a perfectly produced, perfectly played record that delivers the goods. Awesome in every sense of the word – check it out immediately.