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Incoming Death

Century Media (2016)
Rating: 8.5/10

I’ve always been blown away by this Dutch death metal combo, so it comes as no surprise then that Asphyx’s latest juggernaut is the usual hammer to the cranium. Okay, so vocalist Martin van Drunen is the only original member left, but that isn’t going to prevent this veteran band from puking up another frenzied assault on the ears.

On the back of an EP (Servants Of Death, 2016) which featured one new song (‘Candiru’) alongside various live tracks, Incoming Death certainly lives up to its barbaric title; bringing with it 11 psychotic forays of pure, unadulterated old school death metal.

We always know what’s coming, the only question being of course is whether it’s good enough? To answer that question, of course it is. The usual fast-paced dynamics fronted by van Drunen’s harsh, volatile tones is what Asphyx has always been about, and so with ‘Candiru’ we experience a reliable recipe where the combo simply sets out to bash our heads in with their unholy death hammer.

Of course, it’s not all about the frenzy and the fury; Asphyx are masters of drowning us in doomier moments and these do come – at times at a cost – where they tend to wear us down rather than paralyze. This is simply down to some of the slower slabs of weight being a touch drawn out, but there’s still joys to behold with the likes of ‘The Grand Denial’ and the utterly pungent drags of ‘Wardroid’ with its buzzing guitar tone. Although the bass of Alwin Zuur feels slightly smothered at times, there’s enough glug, gloom and grotesque death metal on offer to keep the most avid fans happy.

‘Wildland Fire’ is a blaze in the northern sky if there ever was one; a track that cranks everything up to 11 and chugs with complete and utter menace as the drums cascade like black tar onto the ears. Sure, it’s a tried and tested formula for Asphyx but it works every time. In fact, Incoming Death is the ideal follow up to Deathhammer (2012), boasting enough heavyweight horror to leave the most hardened deafened and withered. From that opening expression, van Drunen and colleagues belch up the pummelling ‘Division Brandenburg’ which showcases the battering ram percussion of Stefan Hüskens; a beast of a man whose ugly beats are ideal for Asphyx and their no frills techniques.

‘The Feeder’ is equally monolithic in its trudge; accessibly pounding, it does its job of flaying the bones and feasting on the discarded meat – the band not out to make any new friends or break ground. Instead, they charge on through the bloody mists like an unbeatable tank on a straight path to destruction. Indeed, van Drunen and company are fully aware that in their plight they won’t be saving lives or winning competitions for originality. Instead, they trudge, traipse, chug and eventually render us weak with their gargantuan cacophony. This is best summed up in those doomier clanks of ‘The Grand Denial’ where van Drunen’s rasps of terror perfectly accompany the war-torn drudgery of the riffs.

The title track, rather strangely, is a mere two-minute frantic filler to the equally destructive ‘Forerunners Of The Apocalypse’ which sounds as if it’s been constructed of steel, bone, oil, blood, silt and other debris. Licks of melody permeate the smog, but it’s still very much the Asphyx as we’ve come to know and love.

While some may scoff, I for one am willing to once again be submitted by this anaconda of the death metal world. Struggle if you try, but once again you’ll have to give in to the ugly charms of the beast from the Netherlands.

Neil Arnold

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