ASPHYX - Deathhammer (CENTURY MEDIA - LP 2012)
If you’ve ever been wondering what the point was in bringing Asphyx back to life, the answer for this question lies in “Deathhammer” album and to be more precise, it’s in the lyrics for the title track. Let me quote the first verse:
“Decades ago, a time now long gone, death metal had its pure form. So easy then amongst global friends, a bold scene never to conform. Changes set in, pollution begins, despicable developments. The duty to return and make all traitors burn, on to your knees and repent…”
It seems like those guys took a mission, which was to show everyone how this music should sound like and also to show that the old veterans still have the guts and energy as well as the passion for this style of metal. And death metal must be in your blood, if you still slaughter the maniacs with this music at the age of 30 or 40, right? And myself, as a fan of the band since the early 90’s I can be only proud of them and say how happy I am to hear such amazing albums as the two, which Asphyx have recorded since their reformation. But for “Deathhammer” the task wasn’t so easy. “Death… the Brutal Way” has putted the bar very high, I loved this LP and consider it to be my favourite of all Asphyx’s albums, so to release something what would be even better was almost impossible job to do. And “Deathhammer” isn’t as great as its predecessor. But it’s still absolutely amazing album, one which I also consider a real highlight in the band’s discography and which goes to my top three of all Asphyx albums straight away. I’ve been waiting to hear it, didn’t want to spoil it with shitty mp3’s as I was going to purchase a vinyl copy of corpse, which is finally in my hands. But I was kind of confused with so many different versions of the LP (there’re five different colours of the vinyl available, each from another distributor, which is weird, really). In the end I opted for the red colour from Cyclone Empire. Sadly the LP hasn’t got any bonus tracks, which I know are on some of the CD editions, but there’s something like a download card, which allows me to download two live tracks from the website. They’re “Bloodswamp” and “The Incarnation of Lust”. It’s cool to have it also, but I would rather have something on the vinyl, not on mp3.
The music of Asphyx yet again left me speechless. When the first songs have went by, I was just standing there with mouth opened, in admiration that these Dutch legends have done it one more time. It was like a shock at first, but I quickly woke up and simply started doing the one and only thing, which you should have been doing while listening to “Deathhammer” – and it is banging the head with relentless, maniacal frenzy. This album just starts like it wanted to crush you down right from the beginning and so “Into the Timewastes” is amazingly brutal, yet kind of groovy and catchy song, where the vocals just start right from the first second, so it is also like Asphyx wanted “Deathhammer” to sound like a continuation of “Death… the Brutal Way”. And it does fuckin work. The thing is if you don’t like the opening song, then there’s nothing else to look for you on this album. If this song doesn’t move you, then play something else, as the whole “Deathhammer” also won’t please you, but it does work for me in the best possible way. The title track brings even more energy and I cannot imagine a better opening for the album than this. “Deathhammer” turns out to be one of the best songs from the whole album, it is just killer stuff and I already can imagine the fury under the stage, when Asphyx will play it live. “Minefield” is literally like walking the mind field hehe, but not in the sense of aggression and slaughter this song brings, but because of its sorrowful atmosphere. This is the first doomy track on the LP and I love it. It has excellent riffs, which are the classic, melodic and asphyxiating riffs, in the vein of cult “The Rack” and that’s why I consider this to be my favourite song from the whole album. And if someone would ever doubt that Paul Baayens is not the rightful successor of Eric Daniels, then listen to the amazing lead in this song. This is classic Asphyx! “Of Days When Blades Turned Blunt” is more speedy song, but relatively mediocre in the Asphyx standards and “Der Landser” (with yet another Second World War related lyrics) puts the music back in the doomy mood and I love it.
Side B has two songs, which I didn’t expect to find here, but which I welcomed with open arms, fingers shaped in horns and head banging again. They are two tracks, which appeared originally on 7’EPs, which I couldn’t buy because the prices of them were cosmic and I felt like someone just wants to use the popularity of the band to earn some easy bucks on the e-bay by tripling the prices (rot in hell, greedy motherfuckers). “Reign of the Brute” from the recent 7”EP is great song really and I would love to have that EP, but I haven’t, so it’s good to hear this track on “Deathhammer”. The riffing is again relentless, aggressive and horrifyingly possessing. And “We Doom You to Death” (originally from the split EP with Hooded Menace) belongs to my favourite songs of Asphyx ever and definitely is one of the highlights of “Deathhammer”. The main riff here is just crushing and the whole is very catchy and 666% old school. “The Flood” also belongs to my favourites and there’s no resist from these riffs; and there’s no rest from the headbanging! And finally “As the Magma Mammoth Rises” finishes the album in best possible way, which will leave your jaw three floors under, with the epic, damn massive riffs and consistent heaviness.
I must say Asphyx yet again managed to compose killer songs, but the whole “Deathhammer” wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t for the production. It is superb; especially the guitar tone is one of the best ever, very heavy and powerful. The whole album sounds so crispy and aggressive and is so energetic that it is unbelievable. Definitely it is one of the best produced death metal albums I’ve ever heard. And Martin van Drunen again proved to be one of the very best vocalists, his shrieking and one of the kind growls are excellent and strong, with great arrangements and lyrics. Man, it seems like there are no negative aspects of “Deathhammer”… The album is near perfection and the only fault that I can find here is that “Death… the Brutal Way” was slightly more killer that this one.
Standout tracks: “Deathhammer”, “We Doom You to Death”, “Minefield”
Final rate: 95/100