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Putrid Mass > Crushing the Masses > Reviews
Putrid Mass - Crushing the Masses

Is this a missing Dr. Shrinker demo...? - 74%

robotiq, September 1st, 2021

Putrid Mass were a killer death metal band from Milwaukee that never went beyond the demo stage. They existed between 1992-1994, a couple of years too late to have much impact on the wider scene. They sounded a lot like Dr. Shrinker, an earlier Milwaukee death metal band that had been an integral part of the international tape-trading network. This demo, "Crushing the Masses", sounds like it could be a missing Dr. Shrinker demo. Putrid Mass played the same kind of gore-drenched, unconventional, chuggy death metal with paint-stripping vocals and horror samples. Not many bands were making this style of death metal in 1994, even in the Midwest.

Putrid Mass were not as good as Dr. Shrinker. Their song-writing was not as tight, nor as experimental or as Voivod-esque. Still, I guarantee that if you like Dr. Shrinker you will like Putrid Mass. Each song here is packed with super-heavy crunching parts, odd bass interludes and methodical riff-changes. Think of a classic Dr. Shrinker song like "Mesmermization (Of a Corpse)". That song could be the basis for at least half of what Putrid Mass did here. There are some Autopsy influences too, and a few grindcore-ish blasts (Napalm Death are cited in the inlay). The early recordings by Human Remains might be a valid contemporary comparison. Both bands had a similar awkwardness to them, in a good sense.

It is refreshing to hear this pure, honest, dirty form of progressive death metal on a demo from 1994. By this point, progressive death metal was becoming jazzier and more technical rather than more fetid and disgusting. Putrid Mass succeeded in playing a type of death metal that never went out of fashion because it was never in fashion to begin with. The material itself is strong, if not overwhelming. There are a couple of songs which have been re-recorded from the first demo (i.e., "Little Remains", "Lacerating Necropsy"). There are a couple of new songs, and an instrumental that shows more grindcore influence than before. There is plenty of music here (almost half an hour). The songs have a tendency to meander, which is both a weakness and a strength. It feels messy at times because the song structures are so loose (unlike Dr. Shrinker). This doesn't matter too much because the riffs are forceful enough and the playing is solid.

The biggest improvement over the "Stripped of My Flesh" demo is the production. That first demo was cursed by a lightweight guitar tone that prevented the band from sounding properly heavy. This time, the band recorded at Simple Studios in Green Bay. This was an underrated studio for death metal, shown with aplomb on the recordings of Dusk (the criminally overlooked death/doom band from the same era/area). This production doesn’t sound quite as heavy as Dusk but it still has plenty of guts. It has an old school feel that would have been rare for 1994, reminding me of "Slowly We Rot" in places. Overall, this demo is a fine antidote to the inanity of most mid-90s death metal. I recommend “Crushing the Masses” to anyone who likes Dr. Shrinker and Autopsy, but listen to those bands first.