Deathstench Feature

REVIEW: Deathstench – Massed in Black Shadow

There’s always been a number of shared aesthetic elements between the grittier variants of Black Metal and Death Industrial, as we see with Deathstench. Whenever you attend a concert showcasing either genre, you could see the cross pollination in the crowd. The common disregard for polished production, use of feedback as an instrument, and nihilistic or adversarial themes have led to a few cross-over artists, mostly notably being early Cold Meat Industry veterans MZ. 412, all the way up to the more recent Gnaw their Tongues. It’s also worth noting that Relapse Records recognized something similar in the Death/Grindcore Metal and Power Electronics genres via their Release Entertainment sublabel. While there’s always been a fair number of success in the Grindcore/Power Electronics mix, in the early years I was disappointed with how few of the Black Metal/Industrial acts bring anything worthwhile to the table, with the successful ones taking a more drone/ambient approach. For the most part, you were left with a hodgepodge of stereotypical caricatures of each genre (sorry, Mysticum), which I believe was a byproduct of a misguided yearning to remain elite or true to a hardcore base. This has changed over the past few years, I’ve noticed, with bands such as Gnaw their Tongues gaining much acclaim and Sunn O))) hitting critical mass.

When I first received some Deathstench promotional material from Black Goat Records a few years ago, I hesitated to give it a listen. I was getting bombarded with “cult” Black Metal acts that could have been reissues of old Darkthrone records. But I noticed John Paul Whetzel and Darea Plantin in the credits, both from the cult metal band Pro-death that I remember seeing live in my teenage years. Back in the 90’s, Pro-death was known to integrate noise and black ambient sounds into their anti-humanist death metal live performances and were outspoken critics of animal testing. The two of them also released material under Welter in thy Blood and The Slaughtered Lamb, which borrowed more from Black and Doom Metal influences than Death Metal. The Deathstench record I heard at the time was a split with Demonologists, Incantations in Dead Tongues. I was surprised to hear how well Whetzel and Plantin applied the atmospheric and minimalist guitar production elements of Black Metal to distorted synths, stitched sample collages and droning loops. While I understand the intentions behind their submerged production sound, I felt it was done almost to a fault and did wish their sound was more pronounced.

Read the full review at Heathen Harvest.

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