Review Summary: 1992's Last One on Earth packs a weighty punch
Asphyx are very much an overlooked band in the old school death metal scene. Certainly one of the best death metal bands from the Netherlands, their sophomore release, ‘Last One on Earth’ manages to strike the balance between being easily identifiable as a death metal band but also being fairly original too.
The main way in which Last One on Earth achieves its excellence is from simplicity. Many bands around that time adopted an extremely up-tempo approach, with lightning fast riffs, furious blast beats and crazy, chaotic solos. Asphyx, however, abandons these guidelines and mainly opts for a more mid/slow tempo approach, employing simple but effective riffs. Some songs also shift between slow and fast tempos, such as opening track 'M.S. Bismarck', 'Incarnated Lust' and 'Food for the Ignorant'. These help make the songs very interesting and adds great variety to the album.
The guitars have a nice buzz-saw like tone, similar to that of many famous Swedish bands around the time, but with a slightly more crisp edge to them. This type of production works well with the mid/slow paced riffs, as it makes them sound more crushing and heavy.
If you’re looking for solos, then you are looking at the wrong album, as solos are a rarity on Last One on Earth. However, rather than being a hindrance, this is actually a good thing, as it helps to maintain the doom feel to the album.
The vocals are another highlight too. If there’s one common fault in death metal, it’s that the vocals often seem to be slightly lifeless and monotonous. However, Martin Van Drunen delivers a fantastic vocal performance on this album, mainly employing a style halfway between growling and shrieking. They add to the doom-and-gloom vibe that the album creates, and he certainly packs a lot of emotion into them.
Although the negatives of this album seem very petty, they still exist. Some of the songs, although not actually being all-that lengthy, seem to drag on a little. Songs such as 'The Krusher' and 'Last One on Earth' feel like they could have been cut short slightly.
On the whole, Last One on Earth is a very overlooked gem in the old school death metal scene, never quite getting the recognition it deserves. The atmosphere it gives off is almost unprecedented in death metal, and the album sure as hell packs a punch, perhaps competing with some of the best from that time.