REVIEW: ASPHYX – “Incoming Death”
All Metal sub-genres have had their “glory days” – an era where its sound is classified as the “purest”. It is so deeply etched in the listener’s memory that it just takes one tiny whiff of that sound to drench you in nostalgia and make you travel back in time to revisit those lovely memories. Some bands of that era still possess that killer instinct and have kept their legacy intact, despite the constraints of the Music Industry and the frictions of being in a band.
Asphyx is one of the pioneers from that golden era of Death Metal, who have had their fair share of break-ups and reunions. After delivering two bone-crushing Doom/Death Metal albums post their reunion in 2007, they are back with ‘Incoming Death’ scheduled to release on September 30th via Century Media Records.
In the words of the guttural god Martin Van Drunen himself, the latest album “contains 11 furious songs in the traditional death/doom style which we are known for so well. Only more unmerciful than ever!” And as soon as the opening notes of “Candiru” pierce your cochlea, it is clear that he is not lying. The guitar sound is massive, and Stefan “Husky” Hüskens’ booming drumwork makes it clear that you are on the ride of your life. Van Drunen’s abrasive vocals are like glass shards all over this meaty slab of Death Metal. The opener is truly a jaw-dropper, and it couldn’t have started on a better note. “Division Bradenburg” and “Wardroid” shed the frenetic pace and amp up the doom. Both are mid-tempo groove-laden tracks that will keep your head bobbing as they progresses. The doomy riffs of “Wardroid” especially around the 2:30 minute mark will make you stand up and stomp around like Godzilla.
The production on this album really enhances the monstrosity of the band. The distortion on the guitars is super-heavy, and the snare hits boom through your ear drums. Guitarist Paul Baayens’ simple mid-tempo gallops sound like a thunderous gallop of a mighty beast, while Alwin Zuur’s distorted bass provides a rough bed for the pandemonium, enhancing the rawness of the sound. The distorted doom-laden melodies sound epic and intense. “The Grand Denial”, one of the longest tracks and also the most intense on the album, is a great example. It slowly builds up the melancholic melodies to explode into a thrashy mid-section with the melodies fading into the backdrop, which you cannot take sitting down. It comes full circle by going back to the melody of the intro, and ends with a surprising acoustic twist. It is one of the most powerful tracks on the records, and also one of my favourites.
The band mixes the compositions well on this album, and does not lean heavily towards a single direction for a long time. The furious title track “Incoming Death” hits you after the slow, beautiful acoustic ending of “The Grand Denial”, startling you with its pace and length. It is the shortest track on the album, barely lasting for 2 minutes. Although I am not a great fan of Asphyx’s faster compositions, on this album, they completely won me over. The final track of this album – “Death: The Only Immortal”, inspired by the famous Mark Twain quote – is a melancholic farewell for the listener, and provides one last chance to get consumed by the epic sound of this band. The final moments of this track are incredibly moody and depressive, creating an intense ambience of a funeral and truly fitting the name of the track. It’s the longest track of the album, and one of the most emotional ones the band has put out.
Bottom Line: The phrase “Incoming Death” refers to the cry of entrenched soldiers under severe artillery fire. This album personifies this phrase perfectly, putting the listener on the receiving end of its epic and monstrous Death/Doom artillery. Right from the magnificent album artwork to the production and the songwriting, ‘Incoming Death’ is arguably one of the best offerings by the band so far, and a worthy successor to ‘Deathhammer’.