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Century Media (2012)
Rating: 8/10

Eight albums in and Asphyx are still suffocating our souls with their bleak blend of death and doom, and with Martin van Drunen steering the ship, I can’t see this beast ceasing in its destructive ways. As soon as that opening trudge hits the ears, you know it’s Asphyx; Paul Baayens’ distinctive guitar sound is so pummelling in its harshness, it compliments Martin’s angst-ridden roar so well.

‘Into The Timewastes’ has all the brutality of an old school death metal track, rising from a sombre plod to a speedier Entombed-meets-Obituary style assault. The title track is more fleeting at under three minutes as it shifts between a pacey Bob Bagchus drum before schizophrenically slowing and then finding its feet as a demented head-jerker.

The lengthy ‘Minefield’ is an entirely different kettle of darkness, a slo-mo doomy plod laced with Drunen’s harsh yelps and a down-tuned guitar sound that literally shakes the gravestones. Easily my favourite track on the album, this seven-minute ashen epic is about as stark as Asphyx get and at three minutes in the track, while still bellowing from below the earth, twists on a perverse riff and juddering Alwin Zurr bass, but the track never rises above that sullen whine.

Asphyx show their brutal side however on the frenetic ‘Of Days When Blades Turned Blunt’ and ‘Vespa Crabro’, with Martin van Drunen still coughing up those shards of glass as the riffs pummel the cranium with the death-hammer they’ve created. Of course, what these Dutch monsters do best is drag you into their quicksand of dooooom; just check out the mighty, twisted riff of ‘We Doom You To Death’ which lives up to its ominous title.

But it’s the eight-minute album closer ‘As The Magma Mammoth Rises’ that bashes in the last coffin nail. This track is a vast landscape of wintry bereavement; it feeds on all that is solemn, embracing the shadows in its miry tentacles courtesy of another serpentine riff and avalanche of trudging drums.

Believe me, after 50 minutes of Deathhammer you’ll be reaching for the sunbed in order to get some rays, however false, onto that cracked skin of yours. You know what you’re getting with Asphyx; it’s a despicable old school sound that really punishes with whatever pace it chooses to travel at. Deathhammer is one of the best albums to emerge from 2012, but let’s face it, it was always going to be.

Neil Arnold

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