Review Summary: Asphyx continue to impress with yet another solid album.
Although Asphyx never represented the pinnacle of the doom inspired death metal that was rampant at the beginning of the nineties, the fact that they have consistently released record after record for almost twenty years while maintaining a semblance of quality is merely a nod towards their unyielding musicianship. Death... The Brutal Way
is Asphyx’s seventh full length album, and there isn’t much one will find here that hasn’t been already displayed on earlier releases. In that regard, it’s rather fortunate that Asphyx are good at what they do, their dependable approach to the genre allowing them to get away with sustaining a similar style for so long.
The album begins without a moment’s hesitation, ‘Scorbutics’ throwing the listener into a frenzy of riffing and Martin van Drunen’s menacing vocals. Van Drunen is generally intelligible, and his moderately guttural approach is somewhat unique – he spews out the words with an almost comical and belligerent relish, which simply adds to the album’s appeal. One might think that after so many years and so many albums the band would have run out of good riffs, but Death... The Brutal Way
is hard evidence against this – Asphyx revel in their death/doom fusion, and the album’s grooviest and catchiest sections are without a doubt those that best show their combination of slow doom inspired chug and faster face shredding death metal.
Despite the temperate pace of the entire album, discerning between the various tempos that diversify Asphyx’s approach is crucial to its success. While ‘Scorbutics’ remained relatively fast-paced, it is followed by the apocalyptic ‘The Herald’, which features an intense mid-section closely resembling the soul crushing fury of Disembowelment
. ‘Bloodswamp’ continues on with this blending of styles, but Asphyx make sure not to overuse their strongest point, allowing a bit of relief in the shape of the speedy title track. My use of the word ‘relief’ however, is relative; while the band makes constant interchanges between doom and death, each in turn providing ‘relief’ from the other, the album is ultimately relentless.
My initial reservations about the album were easily subdued with a single concentrated listen – despite the slightly annoying fuzzy production which washes over the entire thing, the absence of wasteful technicality and abundance of solid old-school styled death metal leaves Death…The Brutal Way
an album that takes pride in its simplicity. Asphyx do not aim higher than their own abilities, and their forthcoming approach makes them nothing short of an enjoyable listen.