Monday, 2 January 2012

Asphyx - On the Wings of Inferno (vinyl reissue)

Asphyx - On the Wings of Inferno (CENTURY MEDIA 2000 / CYCLONE EMPIRE - LP 2011 reissue)
First press CD, with the original front cover
Man, I have been waiting to put my hands on a vinyl copy of "On the Wings of Inferno" for years. I never managed to buy one on E-bay, usually due to lack of money and high price of it, so I had to satisfy my hunger with a CD only (which sucks if you have band’s all other albums on vinyl, right?). After the reunion of Asphyx few years ago, Century Media has re-released all their albums on CD and I guess it was only a matter of time, when someone will do that also on vinyl. And here it is! Cyclone Empire has taken a chance and unleashed this limited LP upon the mankind. Well, I know that a reprint will never be as worthy as the original pressing, but since it was quite a rare chance to get the last missing piece of black wax from Asphyx discography for a low price, I decided to do so… and bough myself a copy. Well, few things I need to say first. Like most of you, I have nothing against the repressing of old albums or demos, especially if they’re long time unavailable. It’s sometimes cool to buy something like that, especially if there’s a bonus material included and maybe an extra stuff in the booklet. There were few such re-releases, which I liked totally, like Goreaphobia, Interment, Gorement, as well as all those records from The Crypt like Purtenance or Furbowl. They look and sound amazing, so I cannot complain. But there’s one thing, which I hate about some of the reprints. It’s when they change the original front cover and replace it with another, usually worse one. One such example is Merciless’ “The Treasures Within” CD/LP. And Asphyx’s "On the Wings of Inferno" is another. I know that also other Asphyx CD re-releases from Century Media got different artworks, but I cannot understand that. Front cover is an important detail of the album, it’s the first thing, which make you recognise it, right? Changing it then is a risky game that usually makes me angry. This is the case with "On the Wings of Inferno" re-release. LP repress has the same new artwork as Century Media’s new CD and I hate it. OK, it may look cool and definitely fits the style of obscure death metal in 666%. But I like the original front cover of "On the Wings of Inferno" much more and I think that it should be here! Even if you couldn’t put it in the front, do so inside then! Unfortunately there’s no sign of it anywhere. Luckily, inside of the gatefold looks very well – with short info from Bob Bagchus, few live photos (which definitely is cool) and the lyrics. But where’s the original front cover, for fuck sake? As for the bonus live material that this LP (as well as CD) includes, well, I’ll make a comment on that later. But also here I’m very disappointed.
Because I've already written reviews of every other Asphyx record in the past months, it's not much really left to say about this band's style and music that I haven't said earlier. Asphyx is one and only; cult which not many other bands can rival. They have their own recognisable style of riffing and even if certain records have been recorded with major line up changes and introduced some additional influences in band's death metal sound, they were still very characteristic for Asphyx. And "On the Wings of Inferno" - after two slightly different albums and third one, which was recorded under the name Soulburn - takes the band back into the past and links them with some of their most classic tunes, from "The Rack" and "Last One on Earth" LPs. Really, musically it is equally devastating and stylistically so close to them that all die hard Asphyx fans must have been shitting their pants when listening to "On the Wings of Inferno". Already the first track "Summoning the Storm" sounds like a division of tanks going slowly through the occupied towns and turning them into ruins. The riffs here are simply excellent, Eric Daniels definitely made them all sound as old school as possible and the atmosphere is just amazing. Wannes Gubbels did good job on Soulburn's record, but here his vokills are even better, he sounds 100% like van Drunen and fits Asphyx style better than any other vocalist would. And definitely better than Ron van Pol. Absolutely killer.
Basically every song on the album sounds great to me. If it's "The Scent of Obscurity", which has killer doomy part or if it's the title track with that catchy riff in the beginning and great mixture of doomy riffs and some of the mid paced ones, or "Marching Towards the Styx" with that monumental melody that leads this song all the way through, it doesn't matter. Everything is extremely vicious, brutal and makes every maniac bang his head with no mercy. Asphyx has great ability to create amazing, simple, but fuckin aggressive riffs, some of which are very slow and doomy, some other may have its origin way back in the 80’s on Hellhammer / Celtic Frost records, while few are classic death metal, only far from that technical stuff that 90% of the bands from that genre play. It’s Eric Daniels’ great skills and original style of playing; a major factor for creating Asphyxiated sound and I love his way of playing guitar leads, which usually are kind of melancholic, sorrowful and epic melodies, which fill the riff wonderfully. Anyway, "On the Wings of Inferno" is a classic Asphyx album, one which I can recommend totally. Mind that it was released at the time, when death metal was in relatively bad condition, most of the old bands were either dead or have changed so much that they were nothing but a shit under a shoe and only very few like Dismember, Vader, Morbid Angel or Fleshcrawl were still able to release good albums. And Asphyx managed to put out one of their better records at that turbulent time. Not bad at all.
I mentioned something about the extra material on the second disc. While it's always great to get some bonus tracks, here I must say I'm more than suspicious that the label putted anything they had, just for the fuckin sake of having bonus tracks, no matter if they're worth anything or not. Unfortunately, the live recording from 2000 (with 10 classic Asphyx songs) was promising, but disappointed me totally, as the sound quality of it is just poor. Listenable, but poor, at times just shitty and for such band as Asphyx I think it is not good. If it was going to bring some more attention to this re-issue, then I guess many fans must have caught the bait. But I think the label made us all fools. Personally I don’t like that content of bonus record and didn’t even bother to listen to all the songs.
So, to resume this reprint of the classic Asphyx album: I’m happy to own it on LP finally, but I would definitely change few things: used to original front cover especially and probably didn’t bother with the useless live recordings. Anyway, I don’t regret buying it and who knows, maybe one day I’ll have a chance to buy a first pressing vinyl?

Standout tracks: "Summoning the Storm", The Scent of Obscurity", "On the Wings of Inferno"
Final rate: music: 90/100, but I would give only 30 for change of the original cover and 10 for useless bonus live recording

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