Written by: EW on 28/09/2014 19:10:55

When a Swedish death metal band by the name of Stench comes a-knocking it is sound advice to investigate the disturbance. I could not resist from the name alone; further research indicated the benefit of shared members with the fantastic Tribulation; the first listen to their second LP, "Venture" immediately justified my decision. This is death metal of the old school variety, the sound is punchy and cavernous, there is more than a hint of Tribulation’s "The Formulas of Death" and in the closing title-track Stench have a strong contender for’s Metal Track of the Year (not a real award).

Teamed with the spacious production job is the clean and crisp lead guitar tone of Jonathan Hultén who as a member of the aforementioned Tribulation brings the developed and layered song structures of his more illustrious act to tracks like "Road” and "Small Death", where we hear the band fire on a number of cylinders before allowing for a strong instrumental presence during solos which swell with devilish intent and fade into the darkness before re-emerging for further assaults on the senses. It is worth noting that my ceaseless praise for Tribulation carries forth here, for both acts shame the 99% of today’s death metal acts who offer no variety, no creativity and an over-reliance on brutality devoid of artistic worth; at times I question why we have a need for the two given the inherent similarities but is that something I should really be complaining about?

At only seven tracks Stench offer a good deal within each, with the three sub-four minute tracks still finding time to include extra bridges and diversions to avoid peddling the same tired structures: broody "Archways" opens up and quickly shows the band can be heavy and pounding if they wish to; "The Vast" offers a great pair of rhythms in guitar and bass atop the strong work of drummer Johannes Andersson while instrumental "Way" is the most contemplative and slowly enveloping of the lot but it truly arrives two minutes in with a firm head-pounding tempo. Of the longer tracks "Venture" is breathtaking, as the hoarse groan of Mikael Pettersson is met by a swirling, descending bass-driven riff and quickly makes the hairs stand on end. It only lasts four bars, but this sparing usage allows the band to bring it back throughout the song as tempos rise and fall in unexpected derivations, always keeping the listener on their toes as to what might happen next. "Celebration" - not a very death metal song title I think you’ll agree - at nine minutes makes an early impression before settling into an Entombed-esque mid-tempo cruise and travels onwards to a conclusion of group vocal harmonising with a rather mystical and tuneful edge. All in all, nothing about “Venture” is staid, derivative or dull - this is 38 minutes of the highest quality death metal you can find shorn of any padding and is the best death metal album I’ve heard this year.

Download: Venture, Archways, Small Death
For The Fans Of: Tribulation, Repugnant, Necros Christos
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.09.2014
Agonia Records

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