Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Asphyx - Deathhammer

Asphyx
Deathhammer
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia

When Netherland’s based death/doom metal outfit Asphyx released their comeback release ‘Death...The Brutal Way’ in 2009, you would be hard pressed to know that the band had been virtually inactive for the better part of a decade. Essentially, ‘Death...The Brutal Way’ was a monumental release, and one that rivalled anything the band released in their formative years.
Proving that they had lost nothing in their time away, the band released their ‘Live Death Doom’ live album/D.V.D. in 2010, which was universally hailed as the definitive live Asphyx package and a true testament to the band’s presence on the stage.
Two years on, and Asphyx (Comprising of Hail Of Bullets vocalist Martin Van Drunen, guitarist Paul Baayens, bassist Alwin Zuur and drummer Bob Bagchus) is back with their second album since their reformation some five years ago. And again, ‘Deathhammer’ is another classic death/doom metal release from the long running band. With seven full-length albums to their name, you can say that Asphyx have well and truly established their style and sound – so much so that ‘Deathhammer’ doesn’t really break any new ground for the long running act. But while the album isn’t a huge departure from what you would otherwise expect, it is at least another powerful and defiant release from the band, and one that fans will hail as a worthy addition to their vast catalogue of past classics.
The opening track ‘Into The Timewastes’ boasts Asphyx’s trademark simplistic riffs that give the band their crushing sound, the rumbling ever-present bass that underpins throughout, and Van Drunen’s distinctive ravished half-screamed vocals. It’s a take-no-prisoners approach right from the start with its fast pacing, but with enough twists and turns here and there (The somewhat melodic doom inspired passage around the middle) to earn the track its place as one of the firm favourites from the album.
The title track ‘Deathhammer’ is another fast song and one of the album’s real stand out cuts with its relentless energy and its infectious one line chorus, while on the lengthy ‘Minefield’, Asphyx deliver their trademark slower doom inspired sound to pure perfection with their masterful suffocating atmospherics and gloomy riffs.
From here, the band alternate between speedier numbers and slow doom based efforts, with tracks such as the raging ‘Of Days When Blades Turned Blunt’, ‘Reign Of The Brute’ (The title track from their E.P. released earlier in the year) and the surprisingly catchy effort ‘The Flood’ the pick of the fast paced efforts, and ‘Der Landser’ (Which translate from German as ‘common soldier’, and which also appeared on the band’s last E.P. release), ‘We Doom You To Death’ (Which was originally released on their split E.P. with Hooded Menace back in 2011) and ‘As The Magma Mammoth Rises’ the best of the soul destroying dooming efforts.
‘Death...The Brutal Way’ was a phenomenal release, and one that was always going to be a challenge for Asphyx to top. And while ‘Deathhammer’ doesn’t quite succeed in eclipsing the glory of their former effort, it does at least rival it in terms of greatness. In other words, Asphyx has delivered another stunning release of pure old school death/doom metal, and once again set the bar for the rest of the scene.

For more information on Asphyx, check out – http://www.asphyx.nl/

© Justin Donnelly