Asphyx - Incoming Death album review
A triumphant death metal manifesto
With the amicable departure of drummer, spiritual guide and final original member Bob Bagchus three years ago, Asphyx have severed their last ties with their early, more primitive and sinister sound, and rightfully so. That unique way of combining morbid melodies with barbaric parts was all original axeman Eric Daniels’ doing and you can’t blame his replacement Paul Baayens for putting his stamp on the band.
Whereas their comeback album, 2009’s Death... The Brutal Way, was a good compromise, you could feel on its 2012 follow-up, Deathhammer, that his more direct, less atmospheric approach was taking over. With Incoming Death, the passing of the torch is complete. Not that it’s such a drastic change of style in itself: instead of going from, say, Scum to Harmony Corruption, it’s more like switching from Hellhammer to Celtic Frost. The shift is particularly obvious on the mandatory epic doomy tracks that each Asphyx album has to include. While a classic like The Rack had a vicious yet grotesque vibe to it, here The Great Denial and Death: The Only Immortal carry their big guns out in the open, ready to kill. But Baayens’ biggest contributions are the short, sharp, in-your-face nuggets like opener Candiru and the title-track, an immediate, sub-two- minute punk rock-style punch in the face. Coupled with the defiant attitude of bassist/vocalist Martin van Drunen, who doesn’t have to hide himself in a veil of occultism anymore, and the steady flow of songs, it all serves to highlight even more how celebratory Asphyx have become.
If you’re an old-school Asphyx fan, you probably know the score post-Death... The Brutal Way already, may mourn their sense of dread and may get mad at Dan Swanö’s flashy mix. But what we have here is a rare occasion of a super-catchy yet accessible album that’s 100% loyal to its roots yet with a true crossover appeal.