Friday, 9 March 2012

PUNGENT STENCH - Been Caught Buttering (1991)

01  Shrunken and Mummified Bitch
02  Happy Re-Birthday
03  Games of Humiliation
04  S.M.A.S.H.
05  Brainpan Blues
06  And Only Hunger Remains
07  Sputter Supper
08  Sick Bizarre Defaced Creation
09  Splatterday Night Fever

The first thing that hits you when you listen to the first track is how doom-like the atmosphere feels, that is, until the tempo picks up and blows you away with a barrage of death metal brilliance. Many of the riffs on this release are well-written and rather catchy, none of them feel out of place or like they are just thrown in there for the sake of it. The guitarist is very proficient throughout, playing some very technical solos which are rather impressive. The drumming is rather solid without standing out at all. The bass was probably put at the perfect volume during the mixing process, as it isn’t too loud and certainly isn’t too quiet. The lyrics are pretty much what you would expect from a death metal band, about gore, murder and that sick sense of humour that we have all come to expect and love.

Part of the weird, moribund beauty of Been Caught Buttering is that it’s not doing anything that could be really considered groundbreaking but rather just delivering fairly straight-ahead death metal with lots of bizarre quirks. Horror themes in heavy metal weren’t anything revolutionary but my God are they effective and Splatterday Night Fever shows this once again. It’s got that famous eerie horror theme (its name currently escapes me) and a rancorous bubbling noise that’s similar to the noise the half-decapitated nurse makes in the splatter film, Brain Dead. The verses show some quirky twists and turns and with a sick imagination that thrives on this sort of thing one can imagine some poor sod hunched over in his bathroom oozing puss out of places, that well… you know. It’s a curious image and is another reason why your mother doesn’t approve of one-night stands, dirty women and all sorts of other AC/DC lyrical fodder.

The original album art, which depicted two severed, partially decomposed heads kissing (in fact, it is one head which had been sawed in half by Joel-Peter Witkin), had to be changed for the Australian release. The cover art can also be seen as a parody of a famous picture with Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing at the celebrations of the 30th birthday of the former German Democratic Republic in 1979.

If you’re given an option, I would advise this album be your first exposure to Pungent Stench: it’s very listenable, it’s disgusting in many ways and will give you a crash course in the depraved world that these demented Austrians fantasize of. This is a true underground death metal classic from a band that didn’t get the attention it deserved: this was one of the highlights of Nuclear Blast in the early 90s!

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