Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Asphyx - Deathhammer

Band: Asphyx
Album: Deathhammer
Year: 2012
Country: Netherlands
Genre: Death/Doom Metal

After Pestilence, Asphyx were one of the other bigger death metal bands to come out of the Netherlands in the early 90s. Their place in the halls of extreme metal were cemented with The Rack and Last One On Earth, both of which Martin van Drunen did vocals for. He is really my main draw to this band. I'm a huge fan of Hail of Bullets and loved the first few Pestilence albums. But I also enjoy the doomy death metal that Asphyx plays and Deathhammer is what its all about.

And Paul Baayens really does lay on the doom pretty thick on this album. I mean some of these riffs just smother you in how slow and grinding they are. Der Landser is another track where doom reigns supreme. Oh but its not all slow mo death metal, both Into the Timewaste, and Reign of the Brute, and The Flood have very groovey mid paced riffs and these parts are sprinkled throughout the album to remind us that these guys know how to speed things up.

Of course Martin van Drunen is still shredding his throat as he is want to do. Frankly he sounds just as good here as he did on any of the bands first releases. That trademark half growl half shriek is a staple of this band and one of the most noticeable things.

Alwin Zuur's bass is a little buried under the guitars which are mixed a bit higher than the drums/bass and it seems even the vocals. But it can luckily still be heard and aids in maintaining the low end. On the drums Bob Bagchus plays pretty standard death/doom stuff. I'm glad he keeps a little more away from the double bass unlike some of his peers. I love double bass myself but its very circumstantial when it comes to doomier music in my opinion.

Deathhammer is good but it suffers a little bit from being a tad too long. You can tell what songs hold the stronger doom moments because they are the longer tracks and I feel like if they had cut a few of these the album would have been just the right length. One of the more painful things to me is an album that overstays its welcome. This is still good crushing death metal but I miss how bands knew how to put a lot of quality in the 8 or 9 songs which used to be standard on most death albums. Putting that aside the production is mostly excellent, this sounds heavy as hell and Dan Swano at Unisound did a pretty good job mixing/mastering besides maybe turning the guitars down a little.

Score: 8/10
Standout Tracks: The Flood, We Doom You to Death, Vespa Crabro

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