Death metal the brutal way: why Asphyx's new album will unite generations
Asphyx may have lost their last original member, but the Dutch death metal veterans’ irresistible new album could be their best yet
Death metal, the brutal way: it’s an ethos that has served Dutch veterans Asphyx extremely well over the last 29 years, as their dedication to the underground metal cause and subtly subversive blending of deathly aggression and doomed-out despair have steadily earned them legendary status. Since 2009’s quasi-comeback record, the fittingly titled Death…The Brutal Way, the band have regained the momentum generated by the release of seminal debut The Rack in 1991, but nothing ever quite goes to plan in the chaotic world of extreme music. Much to the surprise and shock of talismanic frontman Martin van Drunen, founder member and drummer Bob Bagchus quit Asphyx in 2014, leaving the band with no original members and the very real prospect of a terminal cessation of activities.
“At first we thought there was no moving forward,” the reliably friendly and ebullient vocalist recalls. “Asphyx was finished. That’s what we really thought. We thought, ‘OK, this is the end…’ but then Bob said, ‘No! I want you guys to continue. Deathhammer [Asphyx’s 2012 album] was a really great record and I don’t want to be the guy that pulls the plug!’ He said that if we could find a decent drummer that he could approve of, then we should do it.”
In most instances, replacing drummers in metal bands is a relatively straightforward process, not least because skill levels are so high these days that most extreme metal stick-wielders are effectively interchangeable. But Asphyx have never been anything less than utterly distinctive and replacing Bob Bagchus presented the Dutchmen with a real challenge: somehow, they needed to find a drummer who truly understood the uniquely harrowing vibe that the band have long made their own.