Released: 2012, Century Media
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There have been plenty of death metal comebacks in recent years, but personally, it’s the resurrection of Asphyx that I find to be the most fascinating. I still have copies of THE RACK and CRUSH THE CENOTAPH on cassette from back in the day, and I promise you that these Dutch peddlers of death were widely regarded by many in the metal community as third-tier at best. As brutal and unique as those early albums were, a lot of people just didn’t get it – was it supposed to be doom, death, a hybrid? And then Martin Van Drunen left after 92’s LAST ONE ON EARTH, a buttload of albums followed with various lineups that nobody cared about, the band wallowed in obscurity and eventually called it a day. But holy crap, their ’09 comeback album DEATH…THE BRUTAL WAY was a straight up kick in the balls and an album that apparently EVERYBODY had heard (and deservedly so). But comebacks are easy these days; it’s really the album that follows next that proves whether a band is still relevant or if it was all just a nostalgic fluke. And that question is answered with DEATHHAMMER, Asphyx’s second post-reunion studio disc. Be prepared to cover your junk kids, because the band is still kicking.
There’s something to be said for age and experience, and it shows on DEATHHAMMER. This is a death metal album for death metal fans. There’s no sub-genres, no djent, no bullshit. Just good ol’ fashioned death metal from a group of dudes that know how to put a riff together. From the moment you press “play,” Asphyx pulls no punches and wastes no time with the pummeling. “Into the Timewaste” is a ripper of an opening tune, but I’ll candidly admit that it’s very Obituary-esque. But great gods of thunder, check out tunes like “Reign of the Brute,” “The Flood,” “Vespa Crabro” and the title track and tell me that this doesn’t get your head banging. There’s also a few throwbacks to the band’s days of dirge in the form of “As the Magma Mammoth Kisses” and what has to be the greatest song title of the year, “We Doom You to Death.” F@#king brilliant…
The production is as thick and heavy as the riffs are, adding additional weight to the tracks and making the whole thing just sound HEAVIER. And Christ on a stick, Martin Van Drunen still has one of the most distinctly sick and painful voices in death metal. Trends be damned, DEATHHAMMER declares with a vengeance that old school is the only school. Seriously though, this is arguably the best release in the band’s twenty year history, and at the very least is on par with the classic Asphyx material. DEATHHAMMER is available now through Century Media Records, which means that you should go buy a copy right now.