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Asphyx: Deathhammer

24/04/12  ||  Habakuk

I like consistent bands. And as you should have picked up by now, Asphyx aren’t exactly known for their experimental take on death metal. With Bolt Thrower off the map, these four people centered around Martin van Drunen probably think of themselves as the only keepers of real death metal. And they aren’t exactly far off with that, either. So unsurprisingly, “Deathhammer” is yet another heavily conservative album of theirs that attempts to continue where ”Last one on earth” ended.

Yet where the predecessor failed to completely win me over, “Deathhammer” shows the band in full force again. Asphyx’ success has always been owed to the masterful use of simplistic yet awesome chainsaw riffing, and thanks to an up-to-date production, Paul Baayens work on the six-string here is as vicious as it ever got. Combine the following elements in a manner of your liking and you will get an idea of the nature of the guitar sound:

-power point
-cable
-scalp
-milling cutter
-supporting distorted bass guitar

All set? Good. The riffs themselves really need to be witnessed, as they are on par with Asphyx’ best work. Sure, there are some of these filler bits, where notes are just roped up in 4/4 without any perceivable accentuation, but the ratio to the really awesome stuff is as such that a few breaks from perfection actually make the other, great parts a lot more powerful. Thus, the album manages to stay interesting no matter what the pace, as the barrage of pumping riffs just never seems to cease. Speaking of breaks from perfection though, Bob Bagchus is still a sloppy as Hell drummer. On first impression it’s a miracle how the band’s sound still doesn’t suffer from his dragging performance, but I think Asphyx are in the lucky situation that even if they push the pedal a bit more, they always keep this dragging feel to them by nature, and Bagchus just reinforces it. And when the band slows it down (“Minefield”, “We doom you to death”), it works like a charm anyway.

I don’t think many words need to be spent on Martin van Drunen. The dude maliciously spits vermin throughout the whole album, and it’s hard to criticize anything about his performance. If you’ve ever liked it, you’ll love it on “Deathhammer”. If not, hmm!

Admittedly, I wasn’t too impressed when I first heard excerpts from this album. The music is as uniform and one-dimensional as the lyrics (no author has been lost on Martin van Drunen), and at first I thought this was basically a rehash and lost interest. After a couple of spins in decent sound quality for Audio Autopsy, I however became only too convinced that this album stands up to the classics in almost every way. Except for not “having been there”. So, test yourself: Listen to “Last one on earth” once. Had your share? Then there is no need to grab this. You’ll only complain about how they had done this and that already, and that you had liked it better the first time around anyway. Hey, you might even be right. If you feel compelled to give it a second spin though, then you can’t do no wrong with “Deathhammer” either.

8.5

  • Information
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Century Media
  • Website: www.asphyx.nl
  • Band
  • Martin van Drunen: vocals
  • Paul Baayens: guitars
  • Alwin Zuur: bass
  • Bob Bagchus: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Into the timewaste
  • 02. Deathhammer
  • 03. Minefield
  • 04. Of days when blades turned blunt
  • 05. Der Landser
  • 06. Reign of the brute
  • 07. The flood
  • 08. We doom you to death
  • 09. Vespa Crabro
  • 10. As the magma mammoth rises