The Porcelain Throne: Pungent Stench
The Porcelain Thone is on a roll with guest submissions. TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs is back again with an excellent brutal addition to the series.
If there has ever been a band worthy of being featured on a site called “The Toilet Ov Hell,” it is Pungent Stench. While they may not be the heaviest or most brutal musicians to ever grace the annals of death metal, their lyrical content, a nauseating catalog of gore, necrophilia, misanthropy, and every sort of sexual deviancy (with lethal doses of black humor), could have easily originated in a shit smeared latrine in the bleakest pit in all of Hades. Nowadays mostly remembered for their use of Joel-Peter Wilkin photography (who inspired one of the best music videos of all time) in their album covers, as well as being the only band with big enough balls to open for Type O Negative on a European tour back when the Brooklyn band was being targeted by leftist radicals due to unfounded accusations of Nazism (Birmingham thrashers Cerebral Fix bailed on the eve of the tour). The Austrian trio produced some of the most varied and underrated death metal out there. With a body of work that ranges from d-beat influenced primitive death metal to catchy death ’n’ roll à la Wolverine Blues, Pungent Stench was never afraid to inject many different influences into their sound. And while the original band is sadly no more, they left us with five albums, each one a compelling listen for its own reasons.
Formed in Vienna in late 1987, the band was started by Martin “Don Cochino” Schirenc on guitar and vocals and Alex “Rector Stench” Wank on drums, both former members of a thrash band called Carnage (not to be confused with Sweden’s Carnage, feat. Mike Amott). Joined the following year by bassist Jacek Perkowski, the band traveled to England where they planned to record a professional demo. Those plans were scrapped, however, when the band received an offer from Nuclear Blast. After releasing a successful split for the label with fellow Austrian iconoclasts and rap metal pioneers Disharmonic Orchestra, the band proceeded to record their debut full length.
For God Your Soul… For Me Your Flesh (1990)
Haphazardly recorded on a shoestring budget and produced mostly by the band members themselves, For God Your Soul… For Me Your Flesh, despite its shoddy performances, crusty sound, and questionable mix (the often off-tempo drums are too high), is an excellent fix for any old school death metal craving. While featuring little of the diversity of later releases, Pungent Stench’s debut is not short on enjoyable moments, from the intense guitar and bass solo tradeoffs of “Extreme Deformity” to the ominous doom metal leanings of the title track, to the whirlwind of blast beats and tremolo picking that comprises “Embalmed in Sulfuric Acid”.
Been Caught Buttering (1991)
Often hailed as the band’s masterpiece, Been Caught Buttering is a major sonic improvement over its predecessor. While still far from pristine sounding, both the performance and the mixing are far more professional. Opening with the standard issue death metal of arguably the band’s most popular song, “Shrunken and Mummified Bitch,” the band’s sophomore effort saw many new ideas introduced to their sound. “Happy Re-Birthday” features call-and-response growled verses that could easily act as a precursor to Exhumed’s celebrated set closer “Matter Of Splatter.” Perkowski graces “Sick Bizarre Defaced Creation” with some funky Primus-esque bass slapping. “Games of Humiliation” crawls forth like Forest of Equilibrium era Cathedral, before giving way to a sweet classical guitar jam. And “Splatterday Night Fever” is a riff-tastic cautionary tale on the dangers of venereal diseases.
Club Mondo Bizarre – For Members Only (1994)
Released three years after their previous full-length, Club Mondo Bizarre – For Members Only saw the band toning down their death metal roots considerably, adopting a more melodic, bluesy, midtempo sound. Schirenc’s vocals shift away from death growls towards something akin to a Max Cavalera-esque shout (the elitists labeled them sell-outs, but I’m hard-pressed to call Schirenc making his vomitous lyrics more intelligible a sell out move). “Klyster Boogie,” with its groovy start-stop riffs and “yeah” peppered chorus is a song that White Zombie would have happily traded an entire warehouse full of schlocky album artwork for. “Choked for Just a Joke,” with its brilliant staccato opening riff, is perhaps what Machine Head could have accomplished if Robb Flynn had devoted himself to make something worthwhile out of the Burn My Eyes blueprint instead of chasing fads and attention-whoring on social media. The southern fried blues of “I’m a Family Man” could have made the Austrians very popular in the NOLA scene. “In Search of the Perfect Torture” is Pungent Stench showing those brats in Disturbed and Godsmack how the fuck melodic heavy rock is done. And “Rape – Pagar Con La Misma Moneda” is a sweet death ‘n’ roll tune urging all female victims of sexual abuse to inflict retribution in the most gruesome way possible (“All raped women should get their revenge / Kill those motherfuckers, says Pungent Stench” and this writer agrees).
Masters of Moral – Servants of Sin (2001)
Pungent Stench broke up shortly following the release of Club Mondo Bizarre, reforming later in 1999 without Perkowski (who wasn’t interested in a reunion). In 2001 they snatched former Belphegor bassist Mario Klausner and entered the studio to record Masters of Moral – Servants of Sin, an album that saw them adopt a heavier sound than its predecessor, moving away from death ‘n’ roll and towards a melodic death metal style reminiscent of Carcass’ Heartwork. The lyrics also expanded to include, besides their usual themes of sexual perversion, virulent attacks on the Catholic Church; but rather than tread the old and tired “Hail Satan” route of other acts, Schirenc defames the Church by sarcastically celebrating one of its vilest crimes: child sex abuse. And the best song on the album is the best example of this: “Viva Il Vaticano” is a pinch harmonic-happy tune that paints the Clergy as pederast con artists. “The Convent of Sin” opens with a melodic bass jam that does a better job of honoring Cliff Burton than Metallica’s recent “ManUNkind.” Album opener “Loot, Shoot, Electrocute” is two minutes of death-thrash bliss. And “Diary of a Nurse” sounds like Waking the Fallen era Avenged Sevenfold, but good.
Klausner left the band shortly before they were due back on the studio, which prompted Schirenc to handle the bass duties himself for the band’s final album, Ampeauty (portmanteau of “amputee” and “beauty”). Deciding to return to the death ‘n’ roll of Club Mondo Bizarre, the album is full of bluesy midtempo numbers, the two exceptions being “Same Shit – Different Asshole” (whose speedy riffs recall early Sodom) and album closer “Fear The Grand Inquisitor,” a collection of frenetic riffs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in Megadeth’s So Far, So Good… So What! if Schirenc had snarled the vocals instead of growling them. “Lynndie (She-Wolf of Abu Ghraib)” is a tribute to disgraced US Army soldier Lynndie England, tied together by a brilliant, slithering riff. “Got MILF?” features groovy blues riffs like those that Entombed was laying down during their major label years. And “The Amp Hymn” soars with melodic ringing notes and surprising clean vocals.
The band supposedly recorded one more album in 2007, but broke up again the same year and left it unreleased (Edit – the album has since been released, titled Smut Kingdom. Thanks to the avid reader who sent the update). Schirenc attempted to tour with a different line-up under the name The Church of Pungent Stench, only to be met with a lawsuit from Alex Wank. Nowadays, he tours as Schirenc Plays Pungent Stench, with no plans to write or release new material (and also no plans to release that final studio album). Hopefully seeing their old band in The Porcelain Throne will inspire Schirenc and Wank to put aside their differences, release that final album, and maybe give us some new material.
Thanks again to TheGranulatingDarkSatanicMilfs for this very detailed write-up. If you have a band you would like to submit, hit the typewriter and fax a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please don’t actually try to fax me).