Asphyx – Incoming Death (Century Media)Thursday, 17th November 2016
It is of little debate Marten van Drunen is one of the best death metal vocalists in the style’s vast pantheon. His patented damaged-larynx-while-coughing-up-acid approach is unequaled, with perhaps Obituary’s John Tardy being the only other vocalist on the same level. His work with Hail of Bullets and Pestilence was exceptional (Pestilence’s Consuming Impulse is utterly rabid), but Asphyx is right in the man’s wheelhouse, as so displayed across Incoming Death, the band’s first album since 2012’s Deathhammer.
There’s always been this air of effective simplicity with Asphyx, like, their riffs won’t fool anyone, but they’re usually in the right spot and played at the right time. Perhaps it comes with the band’s noticeable doom angle, which is to break up the vintage death metal flow. Whereas cuts like “Candiru,” the bulldozing “The Feeder” (total heaviness here) and the title track are savage bouts of DM, it’s the crushing weight of “Division Brandenburg” and “Forerunners of Apocalypse” that plop Asphyx down in occasional melodic territory, a much-valued quality that shouldn’t go unnoticed given the album’s overall heft.
But of course, hearing van Drunen belt over these songs is the real treat here, for lack of a better term. His cadence is often menacing, hovering over these songs like a 600 lb. monolith. It’s why Asphyx are heavier than a heavy thing, and Incoming Death is the band’s most satisfying offering since 1992’s Last One on Earth.