Reek of Putrefaction was recorded in four days at Ritch Bitch Studios in Birmingham. According to guitarist Bill Steer, the studio's engineer "ruined" the record, especially its drum tracks. Carcass had only had a few hours available of mixing, so they had to release the LP as it was to meet the label's deadline. The band were "everything but happy" with the end result, declared Steer.
When the master recording was first sent to the pressing plant, the original vinyl LP had to be pressed at lower volumes, because the bass frequencies were so low (sometimes reaching 25 Hz) that they were in danger of rendering higher frequencies inaudible.
Reek of Putrefaction was first released in 1988. The original album cover consisted of a collage of autopsy photographs collected from medical journals.[full citation needed]Reek of Putrefaction was re-released in 1994 with a "clean" cover. In 2002, the album was reissued with a censored outer cover proclaiming "Original artwork contained inside".
The album was re-released in 2008 as part of an ongoing series of Carcass reissues to tie in with their reunion. The main album, along with the demo Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment, is presented as one side of a dualdisc, while the DVD side features the first part of an extended documentary titled The Pathologist's Report Part I: Incubation. Later editions contain the album on a CD and the documentary on a separate DVD. The album is presented in a 12-panel digipak with full lyrics and artwork and is sealed in a white medical bag with sticker, to hide the controversial cover art.