ALBUM REVIEW: Asphyx – Necroceros

There was a time where Metal had an ageism problem; the perception prevalent that once heavier bands passed certain milestone birthdays or anniversaries, or wracked a certain number of albums, or miles on the road, they became jaded, watered-down parodies of themselves. The late nineties, and, to be fair, a good chunk of the first decade of this millennium, were not kind to our grizzled veterans, some of whom fed into the prophecy, with stock output outweighing those who could still hold their own.

But class will out. And experience brings confidence, assurance, clarity, and quality. Those who honed back in on the traits and core elements that had set them on glorious opening paths and who kept the intensity up found their craftsmanship shining back through. Cannibal Corpse, Testament, Overkill, and Death Angel all proved doubters wrong with albums that stood toe to toe with their most devastating canons, Carcass and At The Gates returned in triumph, and amongst all that, in 2012, twenty-one years after their debut Dutch Death Metal dealers Asphyx unleashed Deathhammer, an absolute tour de force of crushing, magma-powered, bull-necked statement.

While it is true that you should, by now at least, know what you’re getting into when you pick up a new album from Asphyx – the mix of furious, deathly volleys of energy interspersed with lean, hefty grooves and monolithic skullcrushers, all with a dose of gloriously fun accessibility –it doesn’t mean it softens the blow to the chops you are about to receive or dampens the excitement as ‘Molten Black Earth’ swaggers down the kill-chain, or ‘Three Years of Famine’ opens up as the best Amon Amarth closing epic the Swedes never wrote, or ‘Botox Implosion’ tears and rips with punky pus. Just because you know what’s coming, it doesn’t stop it hurting or leaving your ears ringing for hours after.

While Necroceros (Century Media) doesn’t quite match up to Deathhammer’s magnificence, these are fine margins. ‘Mount Skull’ crushes in aptonymic magnificence, ‘Knights Templar Stand’ is the crunching anthem every discerning metalhead needs in their life (or at least on their playlists), ‘Yield or Die’ is a proud headbanging chugging maelstrom, before the title track Orgasmatron’s us to a close. Throughout Martin Van Drunen‘s distinguishing manic ripped-throat rents asunder, injecting even more intensity to the underpinning stomp of Paul Baayens twenty-eight-day-hung beef riffing, and Stefan Hüskens relentless pounding grooves.

There is no better way to celebrate a legacy spanning thirty years than with a storming riot of violence that continues to sound invigorated and invigorating, with riffs chunkier than an actual death rhino. Asphyx may not be the most prolific, Necroceros is their tenth album overall, but stand as a testament to that well-worn but so very true edict – that it really is quality, not quantity that matters most.

This is the way. The Asphyx way.

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8 / 10