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Recommended for completist collectors only. - 30%

droneriot, August 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, Nuclear Blast

When I reviewed Pungent Stench's debut album it turned into a huge rant about how Nuclear Blast (whether with or without help from the band) screwed up the CD versions of the album. Unfortunately, the debut isn't the only Pungent Stench album whose CD version was raped by whatever culprit threw it together. Luckily, there are no omissions here. However, there are four additions that couldn't be more pointless: Four instrumental versions of songs on the album. Everything exactly the same, only the vocals are missing. Now, this is something I could understand if the album was some technical proggy type of stuff where there is a lot going on instrumentally, where providing instrumental versions might have highlighted details that would otherwise be partially clouded by the vocals. This isn't the case here. This is simple as fuck death'n'roll, pretty much as straight-forward as you can get. Removing the vocals removes one of the tracks' main drives, a major source of their energy, thereby rendering them limp and dull, without punch, without power. Pointless and retarded. Now, I could of course overlook this nonsense and not include it in the rating since officially these pointless additions are called "bonus tracks", not officially being a part of the album. However, since they are on every CD copy of this album and since I'm not interested in vinyl, I can do nothing but consider them part of the package, and therefore have to and will deduct points for their inclusion. Punishment where punishment is due.

That said, the "official" part of the album is quite a mixed bag by itself. In parts it can be decent but it's really quite far from their best album. "Club Mondo Bizarre" is most likely Pungent Stench's least popular album, and this is the case for a reason. The main issue is of course that this is the band's only full-length that cannot be called "death metal" by any stretch of the imagination. The only death metal elements this album contains can be found in the vocals and the lyrical content, and perhaps in part in the production - mainly in the low, fuzzy guitar sound and the "roaring" sounding bass. All the music however, all the riffing and somesuch, is rooted firmly in hard rock music, mid-paced, simple and grooving. Occasionally this actually works quite well, and I believe that any Pungent Stench fan should give this one at least one spin, because in its few stronger tracks it definitely has some damn catchy hooks to show for. This becomes most apparent in the third track, "Choked Just for a Joke". After having sit through two of the album's weakest tracks, "True Life" and "Klyster Boogie" (the former being the weaker of the two and competing with "Hydrocephalus" for worst of the album), this song is ripe with high quality hard rocking licks that would leave nothing to be desired if one were looking for mid-paced death'n'roll. Personally I am very rarely in that particular mood, but when I am, this song delivers with its great sleazy vibe and laid back delivery. Unfortunately, after that highlight we are already treated to another loss, the aforementioned "Hydrocephalus". Never does it seem to end with its tirelessly repeated, excessively simplistic and aggravatingly boring groove rock riffs. Just like the album's first two tracks it just plods along without any hooks to make it worthwhile. That the song's last ten seconds or so contain one of the album's only two or three death metal parts can't salvage it, since you'd have to listen to the whole crap that's the rest of the song to get to it. Believe it or not, that's one of the songs they chose to have as an instrumental version as a "bonus" for the CD version. No idea what came over them. The next track, "I'm a Family Man", manages to be another highlight, hooking you with great old school Pungent Stench grooves, hard rocking leads and demented clean vocals in the verses.

Funny how just wanting to point out the album's highlights and low points is starting to become a track-by-track review, but that's the level of inconsistency you're in for when you spin this record. Highlights and low points just seem to be back to back, at least in the first half of this album. The second half is slightly more consistent, but on a level that on the one hand hovers comfortably above the level of being eligible for being called a low point, but unfortunately also far from being near something one could call a highlight. Just average groovy death'n'roll stuff, nothing more, nothing less. To give you a brief summary: The next song after "I'm a Family Man", "Treatments of Pain" tries a new trick by starting out like a highlight, then getting increasingly tedious by repeating the initially cool sounding parts way too often, and finally sounding like a Pantera knock-off. Could have done without that. "In Search of the Perfect Torture" does the opposite by initially sounding like another total loss, but eventually turning out to be another nice grooving and hard rocking number with a sweet lead hook. Unfortunately it's also too long for its own good, expanding itself with a randomly inserted uptempo break that doesn't fit the song and does more harm than good. The last three tracks, "Practice Suicide", "Fuck Bizarre" and "Rape - Pagar con la Misma Moneda" do absolutely nothing, but none of them are long or slow enough to qualify as a loss, instead remaining at a decent-but-not-memorable level.

As you can imagine this is not an album you'll want to experience as a whole, instead going for either skipping the really poor tracks - "True Life" and "Hydrocephalus" in particular - or cutting out even the average but pointless groove pieces and only skipping to the real stand-out tracks, shoving the CD into the player just to hear "Choked Just for a Joke" and "I'm a Family Man". To be honest, with as few as two songs standing out it's probably easier to just go the route of digital piracy and deleting all other tracks. Only recommended for die-hard fans who'll buy all their stuff no matter what, collection completists, and people who want to hang that fold-out inlay on their wall.

Still Eager for Booty, but No Longer Foaming - 45%

Cat III, August 9th, 2018

The Austrian death metal scene reminds me of the one in the Netherlands, in that both contained their share of good and important bands, but unlike the scenes of Sweden, Florida, Finland, New York and Brazil there was not enough uniformity in bands' style to form an Austrian sound. Location is the greatest commonality between Disharmonic Orchestra, Belphegor, Visceral Evisceration, Disastrous Murmur and Miasma so don't expect retro-Austrian bands to be the next underground trend. With Club Mondo Bizarre – For Members Only, Pungent Stench proved not only do DM bands from Austria not sound like each other, they don't even always sound like themselves. Maybe the band had an upcoming job interview or was asked out on a date, because they sure cleaned up. Sound-wise it's not immaculate, but the difference between this and the band's previous material is vast. It's like some dirt under the fingernails compared to a body caked in mud.

This wouldn't be a problem had the songwriting not seen a marked downgrade. Dynamics have been sacrificed for accessibility. Most riffs are either simple grooves or short and choppy. While rightly considered a death 'n' roll album, Club Mondo Bizarre also has clear similarities to Pantera and their ilk, which isn't a terrible thing, and Pungent Stench is adept with headbanging mid-pace riffing, but the over-reliance on such material is tiresome. Stripping down the guitar work puts a straitjacket on Alex Wank's drumming which is subdued—there's a single blast-beat (the end of “Hydrocephalus”) and little double-bass action. Jacek Perkowski's role is further diminished with the bass mixed even lower and having little to do when it is present.

Then there's Martin Schirenc's vocals. He's more intelligible, though you'll still need a lyrics sheet to catch everything. Problem is he maintains the same tone almost the entire time. Gone are the manic gibbering, the low snarls and the weird moaning. Again, the technique isn't the issue, but that it is utilized with such frequency. There are a few instances where they shake things up. “Treatments of Pain” has brief passages of a spoken voice that has some effect distorting it. In the beginning of “I'm a Family Man” there are clean vocals which have a kind of grunge quality and work surprisingly well. “Klyster Boogie” starts with someone counting to three in Spanish, followed by an acoustic guitar playing a couple notes before the electric guitars kick in. Those are a few oddball ideas that aren't fleshed out. Also, “Hydrocephalus” and “Practice Suicide” stop for a few seconds before the music kicks back in. This is done in such a superfluous way that I can't imagine what they were going for; the unforgettable atmospheric part halfway through “In the Grip of Winter” these are not.

Some shots do hit their target. The aforementioned “I'm a Family Man” ends with cowbell over a hard-rocking groove and a pretty sweet solo. “In Search of the Perfect Torture” features a jaw harp twice (the instrument denoting a cartoon character's erection). That may not sound like a lot, but is the maximum that instrument can appear in a song before it becomes annoying. “Fuck Bizarre” hits hard with its no frills simplicity. Schirenc gives a rapid-fire vocal delivery on “Rape - Pagar con la Misma Moneda”, a song which enjoins rape victims to become vigilantes. Other songs sneak in jabs at the church and other supposed moral authorities, but this one is the most explicit with its message. Before this album, “Extreme Deformity” and “Pungent Stench” were the only songs that hinted at social consciousness. Though they broke up after this, it did signal the direction of albums after their reunion which saw a bigger focus on commentary, but thankfully unlike other bands who suddenly decide they're “serious”, these guys didn't abandon their typical depraved subject matter, but instead use it to make a point. Club Mondo Bizarre also covers strangulation, torture, suicide, coprophilia, and while I don't like the lyrics as much as on Been Caught Buttering, this is one area that hasn't been nerfed.

Like their other reissues (except Ampeauty for some reason), Dissonance Productions have included a bevy of bonus tracks: “Tony” from the 1994 Nuclear Blast compilation Death… Is Just the Beginning III, plus 31 minutes of live recordings. “Tony” is an alright groover that fits in with the rest of the album and includes samples from Scarface. The live material is mostly songs from the previous two albums and a cover of Carnivore's “Race War”. It's a good selection, but the quality leaves much to be desired, with a weak guitar sound and overpowering vocals. Still decent enough as far as curiosities go. Earlier CD editions included karaoke versions of four songs. According to Wikipedia this was part of an aborted contest to have fans send in their own renditions. Were it in regards to better music, I'd like the idea of including instrumental versions of tracks. Not so I could have growl-off parties or whatever, but just as a way to examine the non-vocal parts more easily (and a method for shutting up acquaintances who say metal is just noise).

Lest you get the wrong impression, Club Mondo Bizarre – For Members Only is less an atrocity than a disappointment, and knowing the band's potential makes my score slightly lower than it would be otherwise. Wank, Schirenc and Perkowski can make a catchy song. Diehard death 'n' roll fans may dig it, though it's far from the cream of that crop. While no masterpieces, Pungent Stench's following albums were more successful at indulging these rock and groove tendencies while remaining powerful. I hereby revoke my application for membership to this club.

Why the Hate? - 82%

Eyeball, May 1st, 2010

I'm not really sure why this particular album gets the bad reputation it seems to have. I rather like it, and though it's not perfect and definitely not the band's best work, it's definitely a favorite of mine.

Musically, this album carries that traditional Pungent Stench sound. It has this guttural density to it, but for this one it's been cleaned up a bit since the Been Caught Buttering days so you can tell what the riffs are most of the time instead of losing them in a sludge of distortion. The one thing that's a bit different on this album is they've lost a bit of their groove. 'True Life' and 'I'm a Family Man', for example, have these rather long openings to them that sound closer to hard rock than typical Stench. The latter, for example, is really dreadful. But the majority of the tracks have their own sound to them. One thing I've always liked about these guys are the drums. They don't rely too heavily on blast beats or double bass rumbles, but instead throw out some really cool, grooving patterns that fit the overall style and theme a lot more than most bands can pull off. This album really showcases that kind of drumming. Some of the riff work on this isn't as hot as previous albums, but it still has that classic sound to it and some of the songs, like 'Hyrocephalus' and 'In Search of the Perfect Torture' have some awesome segments that really get your blood moving.

The presentation takes on a more sado-masochist approach, something they seemed to be slowly developing since the early days. This album, in fact, is one I look to to really try to describe what these guys were about long ago. It has a different feel to it than most death metal at this time, and the insert fits the bill. Lots of creepy, porno ridden art here that definitely looks like it probably was pretty disgusting to photograph. The only problem I have is you can tell from the main band photo that they were starting to go through problems at this time, with one guy going all out for the costumes and the other two saying this is lame, whatever, I'll wear a mask. Still, cool presentation.

One thing I've read some complaints about are the lyrics and the song themes. Now, yeah, I'm aware that they've done something different here, and I can definitely agree that stuff like 'I'm a Family Man' doesn't really seem to fit with what they are. For the most part, though, the songs fit this bizarre sexuality they were going for, with 'Fuck Bizarre', for example, coming at you with some pretty puke-worthy concepts. This then fits the overall layout of the art and the feeling of the songs to me, so other than one or two tracks that don't really seem to fit the theme, I thought the lyrics and themes overall were fitting. Sometimes stupid, yeah, but in general they fit the strange concept of the album. The only thing I never got about this CD were the stupid karaoke versions of four of the songs at the end. I guess you were supposed to record your version and send it in, but who in the hell would do that? Whatever, doesn't really ruin the album, just kind of stupid.

Club Mondo Bizarre isn't as bad an album as people tend to think. It's definitely not perfect, some of the music is a little questionable for what these guys were known for, but overall I think it's a successful addition to their various releases. I still listen to it since it was first released, and it's one of my favorites, probably their third best album in my opinion. Has some problems, but it doesn't deserve the bashing it usually gets.

Klyster Boogie and a great album cover - 40%

morbert, August 7th, 2008

When recalling this album I only think about the briliant cover and one song. When listening back to it these last few days after all these years I was wondering how I would like it now. But honestly, my feelings towards it haven’t changed. This album continues the path set in by the two originals on their previous effort “Dirty Rhymes And Psychotronic Beats” but simply not as good.

We’re talking doomy and groovy death metal here with sick lyrics. As I would like to call it “Yeah-Baby-death-metal”. However it becomes painfully obvious a full length album of it is just too much. Over all “Club Mondo Bizarre” became stretched and tedious. It was the variation of paces and dynamics that made their previous albums so classic. This is dearly missing on “Club Mondo Bizarre”.

Of course if the individual songs had been of outstanding quality, the album could at least have been interesting as a collection of good tunes. Also this is lacking. As said only one song really stands out in terms in quality and most important: catchiness and memorability. We’re talking “Klyster Boogie” here. This song achieves what all the other songs try: The ultimate Yeah Baby Erlebnis in death metal. This is where Sabbath-inspired Cathedral grooves meet sick death metal. A superb song!

As said, the album cover is great. I have the original CD which has a fold out cover. Normally one can only see a partial monkey, but when folded out I’d like to be a banana.

Photocopy the cover and get Klyster Boogie and quickly forget about the rest.