By anyone’s standards 10 albums in 34 years is a decent haul and while Dutch Death Doom Elite Asphyx may not have any original members left in the group, the presence of ex-Pestilence man Martin van Drunen since 2007 after an original stint between 1990 and 1992 which goes a long way towards confirming it is still the same band. He’s joined by the same line up that recorded 2016’s “Incoming Death” with bassist Alwin Zuur who has been present since 2010, guitarist Paul Baayens since 2007 and drummer Stefan Hüskens who has been with them since 2014 as the shortest serving member. The trio of pre-release singles promised a blizzard of mortality-threatening riffs and bludgeoning rhythmic battery so what does the rest have in store?
When a band reaches veteran status, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quality of their material going forward as some fade away as mere shadows of their former selves with mindless self indulgences or repeating former glories that don’t cut it due to the law of diminishing returns. Not all bands have it within themselves not to on their laurels and push themselves. However those bands are not Asphyx. Martin van Drunen may have taken over as the mastermind behind the group but he as hell knows what he wants and what we, the people want. That much is clear from the moment the “The Sole Cure Is Death” surges into life with the roar of the raspy dry vocals and the release of the blood hounds. The musicians behind him are in inspired form and build dark brooding atmospheric sections of Doom Metal between bomb blasts of Death Metal onslaught with seamless tempo shifts that are executed to perfection, “Molten Earth” being a prime example.
The early Slayer esq passage of “Mount Skull” complete with its very Kerry King solo is a sublime addition which raises the hair on the back of your neck while the narrative behind “Knights Templar Stand” adds a certain sheen to a solid piece of Metal, forged in the furnace of Overijssel. It’s here that things take an interesting turn with the opening riff of “Three years of famine” sounding particularly Black Sabbath inspired before moving off into a slow bludgeoning headbang of a riff that then soars like an Eagle with a majestic solo. It is but a momentary reprieve before the hammer comes down for the Death Metal blast of “Botox Implosion” that comes complete with the unhinged laughter to match the madness that spews forth in the lyrics. A tale of the woe that occurs when these procedures go wrong that questions the sanity of going under the knife in the first place, it’s brilliantly socially aware and soaked in buzzsaw riffage galore.
Slowing down for the eve of the apocalypse that is “In Blazing Oceans“, which again has a mesmerising lead part amid pummelling groove and percussive battery is a masterstroke as the band transition into “The Nameless Elite” which depicts the horrors of War in 1941 and combines both styles in brutal fashion. The consistency of the quality here is worthy of note, there is no weak point in the armour that Asphyx have created. Even at the tail end, “Yield or Die” is an absolute powerhouse with flavours of the Gothenburg sound in the riffs before the clanky Bass of “Necroceros” takes hold. The title track maybe more of a mid album chugger but what it lacks in faster pacing, it makes up for with blunt force. Make no mistake, Asphyx are far from done [8/10]
The Sole Cure Is Death
Molten Black Earth
Knights Templar Stand
Three years of famine
In Blazing Oceans
The Nameless Elite
Yield or Die
“Necroceros” by Asphyx is out 22nd January via Century Media.