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That's fucking sick - 89%

Acrobat, December 30th, 2008

I’ve always swayed towards the more earthy, filthy side of death metal. I simply find it conveys the genre’s initial subject matter far better than superfluous guitar shredding and drums that sound as if they were polished between every hit. It feels so much more heartfelt – perhaps in literal pathological terms – than the more technical approach to this style (he says making a comparison between two styles of death metal that has never been made before, never!). Been Caught Buttering is a classic of the vile and stark variety of death metal and perhaps the most out-and-out fun death metal records I’ve heard.

Been Caught Buttering is pretty much my perfect death metal album in terms of style. It’s got the twisted, foul humour of early Carcass* combined with the more doom-laden passages of Autopsy, but with far more Sabbath-esque rock than Autopsy ever dared to incorporate. If you were ever looking for a way to endear me to a death metal album – and I know you want to – then an overt Sabbath homage is the way forward. At numerous times during Been Caught Buttering the listener is taken frighteningly close to the Into the Void groove… it’s almost like an acknowledgment that Black Sabbath is the heaviest band ever! This wasn’t anything particularly revolutionary, but where Autopsy and such would only dwell on the most extreme aspects of the Sabbath sound Pungent Stench incorporate the more acoustic mellow passages of Sabbath’s early seventies output. Games of Humiliation demonstrates this best with its sparkly, melodious end section coupled to great comic effect by the bellows of “It’s heavy!”, which it really is. I find this section to be reminiscent of Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium, but rather than giving a off that downtrodden feel, you get a sense of that perturbing sense of humour shining through. As if I were a ever flowing stream of comparisons, I’d note this has a somewhat similar effect to the middle section in Carnivore’s Male Supremacy, but far more unsettling in overall mood. You can’t really escape the humour in the fact that the band has chosen to have such a beautiful section in a song with such grotesque sexual images fantasies that only an Austrian could have dreamt of.

Been Caught Buttering is one of the catchiest death metal albums I’ve ever come across. It’s full of more rock-ish passages but not in an overt “must invent new awkward sub-genre!” way. Hey, if you ever wanted a testament to its catchiness just listen to opening riff in S.M.A.S.H, which At The Gates nicked for something on their metal-newbie favourite, Slaughter of the Soul. If you ever needed a sign of accessibility! Now if only Arch Enemy would borrow some of these lyrical themes that would truly make my day! But still, no heaviness is sacrificed and if anything the more comprehensible moments simply go to stress the intense parts of the album. Making an album that’s heavy and inaccessible isn’t really much of an achievement – despite being a fun way to spend an afternoon – but Pungent Stench successfully and perhaps more obscurely than you’d imagine meld both memorable and extreme ideas… I’d like to see Amon Amarath do that!

That said, this is hardly the most coherent album I’ve heard, but it’s all part of the fun. Songs like Splutter Supper are just manic exercises rather than finely honed pieces but the simple fact is this is a boon as the more manic numbers just carry the album along with extraordinary pace. Of course, this works well with the songs twisted narrative about eating your neighbour’s kid. The lead guitar, too, heightens this feel; it’s that sort of gargling shred that Slayer popularised but done in a manner that’s taking it to comedic extremes. Don Cochino’s leads have an almost chirping conversational manner at times which reminds me somewhat of when I’d play guitar with a beer can and imitate The Clangers. But when he’s not gargling he does a sick twisted take on Tony Iommi’s sound, which matches up rather nicely with the overall feel on some of the material here. He can also weld a riff like a claw hammer, which is pretty useful.

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 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.

It’s gormless, heavy and skilfully-yet-sloppily crafted. Been Caught Buttering is like a sexual deviant running through the park at midnight masturbating in places he shouldn’t and then promptly throwing up… all whilst cackling at his own deranged handiwork. Which is the sort of stuff that amuses me, not that I’m allowed in parks at night, mind you.

*Jeff Walker was apparently once asked why he didn’t write funny lyrics like Pungent Stench. I guess the interviewer really knew his stuff!