|Asphyx - Death... The Brutal Way
22 June 2009
Disc I [CD]
02. The Herald
04. Death... The Brutal Way
05. Asphyx II (They Died As They Marched)
07. Black Hole Storm
08. Riflegun Redeemer
09. Cape Horn
10. The Saw, The Torture, The Pain
Disc II [DVD - 2007 reunion show at Party.San Open Air Festival] [limited edition bonus]
03. MS Bismarck
04. Serenade In Lead
05. The Sickening Dwell
06. Food For The Ignorant
07. The Krusher
08. Wasteland Of Terror
09. Asphyx (Forgotten War)
10. Pages In Blood
11. The Rack
12. Last One On Earth
Asphyx are another of those "old school" death metal bands that surfaced in the late 80's/early 90's, punched out a handful of albums, then disappeared for years on end, only to return in the latter half of this past decade. Hooray for nostalgia and 20 year trend cycles!
The band has featured about as many line-up changes as Anthrax or Megadeth, and the 2009 resurrection* features Martin van Drunen (also of Pestilence and Hail Of Bullets) on vocals, Wannes Gubbels on bass, Bob Bagchus behind the kit, and the veteran Paul Baayens (also with Hail Of Bullets and Thanatos) playing guitar.
So, history and personnel lesson aside, what about the music?
It slays. And it's something the likes of which I've been wanting for a long time. While I still enjoy some modern death metal acts, there seems to be a spark, a spirit that is missing… something that was present back in the old Earache/Roadrunner heydays that perhaps lies dormant now, buried under ridiculous technical riffs and pounding drums played, with crystalline perfect production, nonstop at Mach Three.
That indescribable something is present in Death… The Brutal Way.
The band shifts between three gears within… a mid-paced chugging reminiscent of Bolt Thrower, a ripping fast, blistering tempo, and, at times, a positively doomy pace. The overall effect is that rather than having 55 minutes of music at warp speed which inevitably numbs the listener, the changes in tempo jar the listener back and forth. The switch from a crushing mid-pace gallop to aural blitz makes the fast riffs appear that much faster… as if they were pushed and plummeting down an elevator shaft. And when they slam on the brakes, the riffs of doom hit like that sudden stop at the end of said elevator shaft.
Sonically everything meshes extremely well. The crushing riffs are helped by a great guitar tone with lots of crunch, and a guitar that doesn't sound like a seven string detuned to the point where they strings are flapping in the breeze. The drums sound fantastic as well - clear and pounding the control the tempo with authority. I think the bass might be suffering standard metal syndrome - largely doubling up a guitar line with lots of distortion and low-e (d?) chugging obscuring it in the mix. Martin van Drunen's vocals are, well, Martin van Drunen's vocals… his horrifying howls still make him sound like a not-so-distant relative of Obituary's John Tardy, only whose throatwork is actually understandable. While advancing in age can wreak havoc on a vocalist's pipes, I think in his case that is a good thing.
Like Bolt Thrower, Asphyx took some time off, came back tanned, rested, and ready, and delivered unto us one ripping slab of death metal, old school style… the brutal way.
* noted as such, as they've replaced the bass player in the ensuing nine months since Death… The Brutal Way was released.
Written on 10.02.2010 by
BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.