Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: Asphyx - Deathhammer

Netherlands born band Asphyx are one death metal group that really needs no introduction. They've been around since 1987 and released their first full-length album, The Rack, in 1991. Coming from an era where there was an explosion of stoner metal and clashing conflicts between the black metal and death metal scenes, Asphyx nestled comfortably between genres. Their music is known for slow and heavy doom riffs, contrasted by frenzied guitars, hard hitting drums and an eerie vocal style reminiscent of the late Chuck Schuldiner from Death.

Genre: Death/Doom Metal
Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: February 27th, 2012

  1. Into the Timewastes
  2. Deathhammer
  3. Minefield
  4. Of Days When Blades Turned Blunt
  5. Der Landser
  6. Reign of the Brute
  7. The Flood
  8. We Doom You to Death
  9. Vespa Crabo
  10. As the Magma Mammoth Rises
Total Playtime: 47 minutes, 18 seconds






Rating: 8.5/10




Netherlands born band Asphyx are one death metal group that really needs no introduction. They've been around since 1987 and released their first full-length album, The Rack, in 1991. Coming from an era where there was an explosion of stoner metal and clashing conflicts between the black metal and death metal scenes, Asphyx nestled comfortably between genres. Their music is known for slow and heavy doom riffs, contrasted by frenzied guitars, hard hitting drums and an eerie vocal style reminiscent of the late Chuck Schuldiner from Death.

Crushing and fast, Deathhammer will relentlessly pound the listeners eardrum until nothing but a bloody mess is left. Incorporating a wide variety of styles such as thrash, hints of black, doom and of course old school death metal, one will find themselves hard pressed to get bored with this album or the contents therein. The first two tracks, "Into the Wastes" and the title track "Deathhammer", are a hailstorm of fast palm-muted guitar riffs and hard-hitting, steady paced double bass drumming. Though that being said, both songs have areas where the tempo greatly slows down and lets the doom influence overtake the song composure, which works well in contrast as the song abruptly speeds up again.

The album slows down completely come the third track "Minefield", in replacement of chaos driven energy are slow, lethargic instruments that are incredibly reminiscent of a more funeral doom sound than anything. One note at a time riffs and bridges set an eerie overtone, and the vocals by Martin van Drunen sound tormented and forlorn. Near the end of the song, there are some over whammied notes that result in squeals which top off this depressive track.


Asphyx have done an impressive job in keeping an old school death metal sound and feel while combining it with the high quality audio standards of today. "Deathhammer" is also the first full-length release that bassist Alwin Zuur appears on, having only previously been featured on a couple of splits and an EP. The bass is audible but deep and heavy and gets largely overtaken by the drumming at the fastest moments due to just how muffled the bass effects are, but it's also easy to hear that this was done on purpose as the rest of the audio quality is quite clear. Martin van Drunen never fails to disappoint with his signature vocals, death metal growls and subtle recording echo. Some of the slower songs do feel like they go on for a bit too long, such as "Der Landser" which has little in the way of variety to offer and has a tendency to be prolonged.

Taking in the album content as a whole, there is a pretty good balanced variety of death metal and doom metal present, along with fast tracks vs slow tracks and long songs vs short songs. "We Doom You to Death" is a good example of one of the better doom inspired tracks that drones on for far too long. The main riff, while catchy and memorable, feels as if it's the only riff used for the entire six minutes and fifty-six seconds of the song.

Overall, the material on Deathhammer has a great old school death metal sound that fans of the genre will love and enjoy. Expect to hear a lot of thrash influence in the fast parts, funeral doom in the slow parts, and some black metal here and there. However, on the other hand what is present here isn't really much different than what you would hear from an older Asphyx release.

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