One of the most honest and greatest bands of all times, especially for the extreme metal scene, is the Dutch force Asphyx. The band could have been the first one to ever release a death metal album in Europe, but Entombed managed to work harder and faster and they now can claim their success on that point. But what was that special with Asphyx always? What made them return back from their nine year hiatus and release their previous very successful album ”Death…The Brutal Way” three years ago? It’s bands like them you just can’t forget and no matter how things turned out for them, they still remain a cult situation for all fans. And this was the story with Asphyx too, but who could predict such a glorious return with the previous album and an even more convincing answer to all doubts with their newest release ”Deathhammer” ? Especially when the old pioneer Wannes Gubbels left his bass duties. Alwin Zuur replaced him in a very convincing way and all four members are blasting their way through your ears in the next ten tracks.
It was clear since their ressurection that this time, Asphyx were ready to take advantage of their shape, their tremendous will to take back what always belonged to them and finally unleash their attack when none would be suspicious of what was going on. ”Deathhammer” is one of these albums which cannot pass unnoticed. Even from the first listening, the ones once knowing Asphyx would mumble ”wow, is it really them? they sound so refreshed” ! And believe me, they would be perfectly correct, as the band plays in a very high level, maybe still believing they are somewhere 20 to 25 years of age and the world is about to worship them. This will has driven the quartet so mature to deliver such a great album that you’ll find hard to believe what is pouring from the speakers. In case you need some warning though, prepare for their best album since their self-titled release in 1994 (for some people, it could be even better, only being surpassed by their mighty opus ”Last One On Earth back in 1992).
”Into The Timewastes” opens the album and just before you are able to enjoy the guitar’s heaviness, a furious Martin Van Drunen is let loose and a beast ready to devour everything is in front of your eyes (or should I say ears?) and you’d better start thinking there’s no way to escape and just enjoy the massacre about to follow. The title track is the new anthem for the whole death metal scene, where statements like ”This is true death metal you bastards” in the beginning or ”Kneel, you dogs!” in the end could sound naive, but they are nothing more than the band’s certainty that they can lead the way to the genre’s greater days in the future. Death metal is not for everyone for sure, but with such releases, don’t be surprised if more fans will start approaching older bands like Asphyx. Some things are bound to happen no matter how many obstacles will be presented in front of them.
The album has six songs whose duration is less than four minutes, and four larger ones which crawl from seven to eight minutes, such as ”Minefield”, ”Der Landser”, ”We Doom You To Death” and the closing one ”As The Magma Mammoth Rises” (what a title and what a way to end such an album). In this special way of dividing the album in two, Asphyx are able to show to everyone that not only they manage to be full of point, aggression and brutality, storming their way with fast riffs and pounding rhythm section, but they can also make you sit back and dive into the swampy pits of their minds in the larger songs. The production helps so much to make the sound rather gigantic and having Dan Swano on the mixing and mastering of the album, is a wild card to the band’s variety of weapons against each unbeliever. 47 minutes where death metal is praised for its purity, its heaviness and its mostly straightforward approach. Don’t expect multiple notes played one after the ather here, it’s an Asphyx album, the old school way!
In overall, ”Deathhammer” is a triumph for the band and the genre in general. They show in a very minimal way that there is no need to try and play something that doesn’t express your thinking. Some bands were formed to do specific things and Asphyx had a course to be as simple as they could. This sweet aura of the ’87-’93 period of death metal music is accompanying you through the whole duration of the album and in the end, a big smile is on your face, maybe because you can hardly believe you listened to something so fresh, honest and full of quality by an old band. If you are lucky enough to buy the double digibook edition, you’ll also find covers of Celtic Frost’s ”Os Abysmi Vel Daath” (who would think of covering a song from ”Monotheist” anyway?) and Majesty’s ”Bestial Vomit”. It’s about time to start putting ”Deathhammer” in your lives as soon as possible and it will definitely make you feel better for future’s metal music. Let’s see which ones will dare defy them, and which mindless heads will be crushed by the hammer of death this time…
01. Into The Timewastes
04. Of Days Where Blades Turned Blunt
05. Der Landser
06. Reign Of The Brute
07. The Flood
08. We Doom You To Death
09. Vespa Cabro
10. As The Magma Mammoth Rises
Limited edition mediabook bonus disc:
01. Der Landser (German Version)
02. Death the Brutal Way (2008)
03. Os Abysmi Vel Daath (Celtic Frost cover)
04. Bestial Vomit (Majesty cover)
05. We Doom You to Death (2010)
|Bob Bagchus – Drums
Martin Van Drunen – Vocals
Paul Baayens – Guitars
Alwin Zuur – Bass