Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)
OK, so on to grindgore classic Reek of Putrefaction! I can remember first hearing bits of this album freshman year in college from an early (and decidedly nonmetal) hipster on vinyl, looking at the cover, and thinking: “what is this shit?!?” It was just too much for me at the time–what can you do? No discussion of this album cannot mention the production: sounds like the master tapes were dipped in mud and baked for a while, don’t it? While the band were apparently appropriately pissed, I think it actually supports the demented, recorded by mutant gravediggers in a mortuary vibe. While it definitely obscures the riffing, the incomprehensibility also obscures the frequently less than fully competent playing. On first listen, it sounds like a complete wall of sound, with little distinction among component parts, but in time (and with a couple of listens) bits and pieces of songs occasionally glimmer through. The obvious motive was shock, and shock it does, from the gruesome montage cover, to the song titles, to the near constant blasts, incomprehensible shock vocals with their mixed guttural grunts and high pitched screeches. Listening after Scum, the Napalm influence of the super short, punk/hardcore inspired, whiplash inducing tracks is clear, though it would wane fairly quickly. The musical high point is probably Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore), which shows the ambition they would later run with to such great success; I suspect that that song manages to rise above the others in part because of their far superior rerecording as part of the Tools of the Trade EP, which has left some learned neural pathways for the embryonic version to activate. While listening to it, I initially thought that it’s the sort of album I couldn’t see myself revisit often, but just a few days later, there I was listening to it again, along with the lyrics for fun! Looking at the overall picture, I could see how in a way it actually appealed more towards someone like our hipster friend Darren, rather than to the more serious metalheads of our ilk, with its over the top, noisy irony.
Some of the album shows a band in a bit of conflict with itself—were they just going to be a gimmicky outfit playing solely for shock value, or did they have greater goals than that? The next album would answer that question.