Pungent Stench - _Ampeauty_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Matthias Noll (5 out of 10)
So far the really worthwhile thing about the Pungent Stench reunion has been their fantastic gig at the Wacken Open Air 2002 and the cool artwork and photo sessions accompanying their last record _Masters of Moral - Servants of Sin_. Musically this come-back album was pretty much on the average side of things, and to my ears didn't even bear much stylistic resemblance to the sound and style I associated with Pungent Stench. At least the latter got fixed this time around, and my first superficial impression was that _Ampeauty_ sounds very close to what the bizarre Austrian trio did on _Club Mondo Bizarro - For Members Only _. This means that the description "death 'n' roll" does justice to almost all the material on _Ampeauty_, which is mostly based on groovy, bluesy riffs. There are occasional bursts of speed, but in general the album is kept at a medium pace.

What has changed in comparison to the Pungent Stench of old is that a huge gap has opened between their over-the-top concept and the lack of energy of their recent musical output. _Ampeauty_ has (by professional standards) an excellent and full sound, but the delivery of the music is almost unhealthily professional, casual and devoid of all rawness and spontaneity. It's quite peculiar that the press info accompanying _Ampeauty_ mentions that this album is supposed to be "not that much sterile as" _MoM – SoS_, because this is actually my main gripe with _Ampeauty_. I didn't expect anything as vicious as the heavily Autopsy influenced "And Only Hunger Remains" from _Been Caught Buttering_, but the tameness of the music and the band's lyrical concept and sick humour are drifting apart to an extent that what once complemented each other is now very close to being annoying and contradictory. Unlike past efforts, the Austrians don't even seem to attempt to integrate any parts into their music that mirror their twisted and humorous take on death metal (like for example on hits like "Klyster Boogie" or the hilarious but ultimately cool "Shrunken and Mummified Bitch"). Furthermore, El Cochino's growl sounds tired and forced and even weaker than Glen Benton of late, and all the lyrical nonsense about amputations, sexual perversions, etc. which he keeps delivering as if it was still 1991 is getting close to self-parody -- most of all because the accompanying music is so harmless that I would be in trouble if some heavy metal noob asked me to name a death metal band which is -not- heavier and more aggressive than the year 2004 incarnation of Pungent Stench. To remain fair I have to say that some of the material on _Ampeauty_ is really catchy and far from being crap, but after having played it back to back with _Been Caught Buttering_ I can't honestly give more than 5 out of 10.

(article published 31/8/2004)


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