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Asphyx - Deathhammer

by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 March 2012, 11:03 PM

I have always seen the Dutch overlords of old school Death / Doom Metal, ASPHYX, especially in their early 90s era, as a true powerhouse of solid extreme Metal. While smothering their feet in the mud of the underground, this quartet revealed some serious classics. Since their return a few years ago I didn't have the chance to re-explore the monster once again. The coming of their new album via Century Media, "Deathhammer", raised my level of interest as soon as I heard about it. After I listened to the album, I have to be frank that my face wasn't that happy with the end result. ASPHYX still remained an old school driven band, particularly breathing the fumes of HELLHAMMER, CELTIC FROST, VENOM, DEATH and POSSESSED, however this time around, they were poles apart from a true optimistic impression, needless to say reach the heights they once did in the past.

Mainly, the album is divided between the short groovy and intense tracks in the vein of old VENOM and slight MOTORHEAD attributes and the lengthy doomy songs that lowered the pace into dirty and gloomy slow tempo patterns. "Minefield" and "Der Landser" sounded like ample songs among the epic group, yet they have the fair share of lifeless like moments were I felt as if it was a standstill or just overly repeated mantra. I had just about the same intuition from most of the shorter and in your face tunes. Aside from the self-titled track, "Deathhammer", which came close to the classics of ASPHYX, I didn't feel anything towards the rest. Most of them were average, pretty identical while sharing the same ideas this making them so obvious. Furthermore, I missed the lead guitar edge. With an exception of several howling shrieks, ASPHYX failed to draw the rightful attention they so deserve.

Probably one of the few features that did earn additional points to "Deathhammer" is the album's production that was made by the Harry Wijering and Dan Swano. Although modern, the basis of the old sound orientation is deep rooted. The cutting edge guitar and the pounding snare helped me think better of the release in general. In addition, the vocals of the long standing frontman and creator of HAIL OF BULLETS, Martin Van Drunen, sound so rich with their semi whiny pattern, like always as if he is spilling his guts over and over, he delivers unlawful words of damnation. I wish most growlers would take an example from this veteran preacher.

I wanted "Deathhammer" to be more than it turned out to be. It has the energetic pattern of old school Death Metal while also no letting go of classic Doom. More or less it has been the legacy of this band for more than twenty years and it will probably continue. "Deathhammer" is no failure, it might presented itself as anemic and monotonic with need of few assortments, yet even in that weak from, but the musical direction on which ASPHYX was founded upon still lives.

3 Star Rating

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 Crabro
10. As the Magma Mammoth Rises 
Martin Van Drunen– Vocals
Paul Baayens– Guitar
Alwin Zuur– Bass
Bob Bagchus– Drums
Record Label: Century Media


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