Asphyx – Deathhammer

Next up we have another veteran extreme metal band, the Dutch death-doom metal band Asphyx. These guys have had quite the rotating lineup over the years and have broken up several times; they spent most of the 2000s disbanded. But a few years ago they reformed (in yet another incarnation) and seem to be sticking around for the moment.

While I’ve been aware of them for many years I have to admit I’ve never really spent a lot of time listening to Asphyx. So other than a vague impression of album covers I didn’t have much in the way of expectations going into this album.

I really dig the guitar tone on this album, but at the same time the first few songs seem a little thin somehow. I want to say it needs more low-end, but when I try to focus on that it seems like there is a decent amount of low-end. Maybe some of the drum parts are a little too crisp and it’s throwing off the whole thing for me. Not a big deal, it’s just something you notice. Kind of like the snare drum on Metallica’s “…And Justice for All.” Once you hear it, you can’t stop hearing it. It seems to even out after a few songs.

The vocals of Martin van Drunen are a bit of an acquired taste. Harsh and throat shredding they have a slight Paul Baloff rasp at the end which I like. Some people might have a hard time with that but not me.

The album picks up momentum (but not necessarily speed) as it goes along. When the album started I wondered whether I would enjoy the whole thing; it seemed like it might run out of steam before too long. But the album just keeps getting better as it progresses. “Der Landser” has some monster slow doom style guitar playing which is very tasty. “Reign of the Brute” picks up the tempo again. “We Doom You to Death” makes good on that promise.

It took me a couple listens but now I can definitely say I like “Deathhammer.” I suppose I should start paying more attention to their back catalog. I love getting into a band that’s been around awhile and having a bunch of albums to check out all at once. I don’t get too many of those situations anymore.