REVIEWED: Asphyx - 'Necroceros'
Mention the name Asphyx and you’ll earn a nod of respect from any hardened metal-head. The Dutch band, though never quite topping the bill, are generally held in high esteem for their accessible, finely crafted death that blends gulping, breathless vocals, thrash-soaked percussion and majestic riffs. Scratch the underbelly, however, and you’ll find elements of doom that add a seething darkness.
Weathered veterans of the scene since 1987, hard-working Asphyx followed the obligatory creative arc over the years from an abrasive, shredding early sound through to ear-splitting hit releases such as the legendary ‘Deathhammer’ to finally land in territories altogether more meaningful in depth and vision. Their latest studio album, released earlier this year, showcases all this hard-won skill and experience - despite a slightly bonkers, Lovecraftian premise of a space monster devouring the earth. An absorbing and savage epic, ‘Necroceros’ exists in the shadowy hinterlands between death and doom, constantly flirting with each genre and throwing in teasing hints of thrash in the way Asphyx excels at. The overall effect of this back and forth tempo switcheroo resembles the strangely fascinating, grainy footage of maggots crawling over a corpse that is constantly speeded up and then slowed down to a snail’s pace.
Notable highlights on the album include ‘The Sole Cure is Death’ which juxtaposes an overall tone of panicked intensity with moments of woeful, doom-laden heaviness, and ‘Mount Skull’, its heavy chords lapping its bleak shores like waves of coldest dread. ‘Botox Implosion’, by contrast, is a pure wall of fast-paced, almost joyous tribal noise, while ‘The Nameless Elite’ is characterised by blast beat gasps of panicked frenzy. The most intriguing track, ‘Necroceros’, is a different beast entirely, a grinding, unrelenting journey of tortured riffs into the sullied depths of primordial, sludgy doom. A thoroughly twisted treat, the latter is perhaps the finest example of the band’s continuing passage into maturity.
'Necroceros' is out now via Century Media