Review Summary: nice rack2 of 3 thought this review was well written
Despite the fact that the first two Pestilence records are two of my favorite early death metal records largely thanks to his contributions, I can forgive Martin van Drunen for jumping ship to create Asphyx. Growing weary of Pestilence's perpetual use of technical and progressive elements, Asphyx was Van Drunen's way to get back in touch with the genre's inherent primitivity. Chances are if he had continued with Pestilence, the follow-up to the classic Consuming Impulse
would have been a hollow effort with little to no heart, so it's definitely good he followed his gut and went on to work with a project he could still be passionate about. And make no mistake, Asphyx's first album The Rack
is passionate... y'know in the "I hate you so ***ing much I'm going to rip you limb from limb" kinda way. If getting back to the basics is what the band was supposed to be about, they certainly succeeded - the instrumentation is brutal and the vocals are barbaric, but the real question is are these elements enough to make the album as a whole a successful endeavor?
In all honestly, the answer isn't so black and white; The Rack
is equally good as it is bad. At times, the album is definitely a stormer - "Wasteland of Terror" rapes hard with its straight for your throat riffage and as per usual, and Van Drunen's vocals are excellent. Forever and always one of the most unique extreme metal vocalists, his hoarse growl is ear-piercing but savagely satisfying all the same. For the most part it's the faster sections and Van Drunen's ripping vocals that keep The Rack
afloat- but only just barely.
When it comes to the "doom" elements, there is just something so amateurish about their execution; the lack of technique and sloppy delivery may be what the group is going for, but there is a fine line between simple yet effective and bland and uninspired. The production has a lot to do with this as well. There is just a bit too much crunch to the guitars, making the album seem like the recording of a band who has yet to find their footing and highlighting just how bad the slower, crunchier sections really are.
When it comes to summoning the murderous intent inside you, Asphyx's The Rack
is good for that. The album simply crushes, something is that is a blessing and a curse. Later releases may not contain the same blind aggression that makes this so enjoyable at times, but the maturity they show on later releases (mostly their next two), makes this the weakest of the band's early albums.