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LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION – Alex Wank talks about Tempter’s recently released lost album ‘Turpis Rex’

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION – Alex Wank talks about Tempter’s recently released lost album ‘Turpis Rex’

After many years spent languishing in the vaults, the sole Tempter album ‘Turpis Rex’ was finally released in 2018. The brainchild of ex-Pungent Stench drummer Alex Wank and a guitarist/vocalist known as Tarpiu, Tempter’s rise and fall was a curious turn of events, as Alex Wank explains.    

“I think Pungent finished in the summer of 2007,” he recalls, “and Tempter started probably in the beginning of 2008. I had no intention, after the split of Pungent, to do something new right away. But then somebody turned up in my life and gave me some kind of demo recordings and I was curious. It sounded good, and I could imagine this material going in the direction you can hear today. So that’s how I came to start again and form Tempter with this guy.”

The singer/guitarist had some good ideas, although they weren’t really to Wank’s taste at first. “As I said, I’d not met this guy before, he was supposedly from Vienna [Wank’s home town] and he was very shy, a bit strange. The recordings sounded too modern for me, but I could hear some good songs and some good vibes, so I told him, ‘look, I don’t want to play this music, but there is something in it which leads to where I would like to go’. He was very open to suggestions. What I was imagining was like old Celtic Frost (and maybe new Celtic Frost) and even some Triptykon, based on the vibes and the darkness, and I thought that if we approached it from this style we could use a lot of his riffs, just played slower or played a little differently, and change the rhythm to take it in this direction. He was up for it, and we changed everything he gave me completely over time. After a year or two we had our style, we’d composed a lot of music and were ready to record. It was a long process, but it started somewhere else completely and ended up more or less where I wanted to have it,” he laughs.

“I’d actually started doing soundtrack music for my own label,” he continues, “and wasn’t interested in playing metal at all. I just lost interest in it, because, I don’t know, I’ve been a metalhead since the late Seventies or so and I collect records and go to shows and follow the different scenes but after twenty-five years or so and also doing my own music with Pungent I’d pretty much had enough of metal. I still listen to the classics and will do until I go to the grave, but I’m not interested in new stuff. Not at all.

“And after a long time with Pungent I just didn’t feel the need to start something again. I’m too old to do something new,” he laughs again. “But this was interesting, what this guy had done, he had kind of a black metal influence but also, how he put it together, some kind of newer metal too. It was very strange. But I could hear the black metal vibes, I could hear the tristesse and the darkness inside which was when I thought about re-arranging it. I also played him some old Blue Öyster Cult and other Seventies rock and he loved it and then he said ‘we don’t sound like a Seventies rock band but there’s so much from the Seventies we can use which will make it more interesting’. As I said, he was open to most things.”

The actual recordings were done live, with the guitars and drums being done in a day – 12 January 2010 – and the solos and bass added the day after. “We rehearsed a long time as a duo, and decided to find a permanent bassist after we’d finished the recordings. We chose a good friend of mine – someone I’m still working with – who’s a very good analogue recording guy with portable equipment so we thought we’d do it as an analogue recording as live as possible in our rehearsal place. Almost every track was one take; maybe two tracks we played twice. But it had been so well rehearsed over such a long time, we knew what we wanted to achieve and it sounded perfect. It then just needed some second guitar and bass, and then the vocals were overdubbed, of course, and the solos. But the rhythm guitar and the drums were live takes. And I think you can hear that. It sounds very organic and very analogue-ish and very, well, live.

“Anyway, I told you that he seemed a pretty strange guy somehow – I can’t explain exactly why – but over time he seemed to be a really interesting and very open-minded person. But then, we did the recording, we had to change his vocals because I wasn’t too happy with them. He told me that when we recorded the songs he would sing them a different way but he didn’t, so I told him he had to change the vocals completely because it’s such a good sounding record and I wanted to have a strong vocal. So he tried his best and I think it was OK but, I don’t know, maybe he was a little irritated at changing his style at the last minute. Or maybe this is nothing to do with it; I really don’t know. But after everything was recorded and the mix was done he just disappeared. I gave the recording to the mastering guys and then couldn’t get hold of him any more. He just disappeared out of my life – he didn’t pick up the phone, answer any messages, he just, well, disappeared. And he didn’t just disappear out of my life. He disappeared out of everyone else’s as well. No-one ever saw him again. And he hasn’t got in touch now, even after the release of the Tempter album. I was very upset, of course, but I didn’t want to hunt him down. So I can’t tell you what the problem is – or what his problem was. Maybe he just lost interest.”

All of which left Wank with a completed album but no band. “I’d already started talking to labels and Vàn Records in Germany were very interested in it, but I was now on my own, and frustrated, of course, because we’d finished what I thought was a very nice-sounding record and I saw no future for it. No deal, no partner, so I said ‘fuck it’ and moved on. What else could I do? I didn’t really care about the money, but I knew it would be hard to find someone to believe in it and release it because I’d have to tell any label the truth – that the band doesn’t exist anymore. I could have looked for new guys, but it’s hard because I think it’s a very special sounding record and it would be pretty difficult to recreate this with new people. And, anyway, it wasn’t worth it. It would have been too much effort and too time-consuming for something unknown and new. I wasn’t eighteen or twenty years old any more and didn’t want to start from scratch again. So I skipped it. I had fun doing it, but, too bad, what the hell…

“So when I was talking to Dissonance about the Pungent records and the unreleased Pungent album I thought I’d mention it to them. I played it again and thought it sounded very fresh. It doesn’t sound old, or dated. It sounds good. I had fun listening to it, and I found I like the vocals more now than I did back then. I like the heaviness of it. I like the vibe of it. It’s very dark. And it was pretty unique. Maybe nowadays there are more bands around that sound similar, but back then I don’t know of anyone that sounded like us.

“And then the guys at Dissonance said ‘yes, let’s do it,’ so something I did many years ago – what, nine years ago? – is finally released. And that is important to me. That does feel good.”

To buy or stream ‘Turpis Rex’ or any of Alex Wank’s Pungent Stench albums click the links below.

Turpis Rex
For God You Soul For Me Your Flesh
Been Caught Buttering
Dirty Rhyme & Psychotronic Beats
Club Mondo Bizarre
Masters Of Mortal – Servants Of Sin
Ampeauty
Smut Kingdom
First Recordings
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