Review Summary: Stubbornly faithful to the past
Although albums like The Rack
or Last One on Earth
are now considered death metal classics, I never belonged to Asphyx’s fanbase back in the days. Both their Bolt Thrower-esque raw style and Martin van Drunen's vocals, though distinct, never really thrilled me. It might have been my fault, I know, but things are as they are. I can't say that my love for Martin's singing has grown over time, but I have to admit that it no longer bothers me as before, on the contrary, I started to get used to his visceral signature. Despite never having plunged deeply into Asphyx's discography, I kept peeking what they were doing, even during the second half of the nineties when they no longer had Martin in the lineup. Honestly, I never got overly excited by what I was listening to, but it didn't cause me any hives either. In spite of its predictability, Asphyx delivers a product that arouses some interest, if only because of its orthodoxy.
As expected, Necroceros
remains consistent with the formula presented over the decades, now with a greater focus on Accept-ish riffs already explored previously in tracks such as 'Death: The Only Immortal'. I've always been enthusiastic about this guitar approach, reminiscent of the German metal bands of the eighties. 'Knights Templar Stand' and 'Yield or Die' both present engaging riff packages that fall directly into this category. Paul Baayens' rhythmic delivery is thus one of the album's highlights and its main structural axis. Bolt Thrower-ish songs like 'Molten Black Earth' and 'The Nameless' Elite' are also among the most interesting moments due to their infectious mid-paced tempos that emerge from the band's comfort zone. This increased focus on slow and mid-paced tempos thus mirrors Necroceros'
The album does not offer sharp contrasts, in fact, its monochromatic palette is all too evident, yet it is not a stagnant delivery. Songs like the blasting 'Botox Implosion' or the thrilling opener 'The Sole Cure Is Death' do a good job of counterbalancing Asphyx’s stylistic stiffness. The balance between Black Sabbath-esque and Metallica-ish approaches in 'Three Years of Famine' also illustrates the subtle contrasting nuances that peek every now and then. And even though less inspired songs like 'In Blazing Oceans' may carry a certain monotony, Paul Baayens' riffs keep driving us forward. The fact that Asphyx have managed to keep a stable lineup since 2016 also lends Necroceros
greater solidity, and although Martin van Drunen's vocals no longer display the same stamina it certainly remains the band's most distinctive trademark and the cement that unites the collective.
Those looking for freshness and innovation will not find anything really exciting here, although whoever got lost around these parts is certainly not very much familiar with either the genre or the band. It is an undeniable fact that Necroceros
adds nothing new to death metal, but it is also true that it remains cohesive and entertaining, if you take it for what it is: an orthodoxy that stubbornly remains faithful to itself.