Asphyx - The Rack
Century Media
Death Metal
9 songs (37:28)
Release year: 1991
Asphyx, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

It’s strange how all the supposedly brutal bands coming out of the modern Death Metal scene can barely hold a candle to the old-school. No modern band is going to be able to make something heavier than Obituary’s first two albums, for example, products of a time and place that became rightful classics. Despite the efforts of the likes of Cattle Decapitation to make albums that crush you into the corner and pummel you until you forget your own name, the simple truth is that they don’t have the unique atmosphere that old-school Death Metal does. Take Holland’s Asphyx, for another example. In 1991 they had just added former Pestilence snarler Martin van Drunen to the line-up, replacing the demo-era Theo Loomans, and the result was an enjoyable piece of Death Metal history in the form of The Rack.

Although Asphyx were by no means the first band to do so, the addition of Doom elements to their sound made for a style that was somewhere between Swedish giants like Entombed and the aforementioned American legend Obituary. Deep, sludgy and catchy, The Rack may not be quite as fantastic as the follow-up, 1992’s excellent Last One On Earth, but it’s still more than worth a listen for any fan of the old-school. For one, van Drunen gives a typically great performance, his harsh yowl extremely atmospheric, and whilst you can’t quite hear his bass, it’s more than made up for with Eric Daniels’ sludgy guitar tone, so thick you could cut it with a knife. It’s the guitar that really does all the work here, whether it’s slow buzzing or the Thrashy necksnapping riffs that surprise you into headbanging every so often.

What really does surprise is how varied the songwriting is. From the eerie synth intro The Quest Of Absurdity to the nine-minute finale The Rack, the band had clearly worked hard at this album, and it shows. Examples? The torrential downpour of first track proper Vermin, which soon turns into a Celtic Frosty Thrash riffathon, simple but amazingly enjoyable. Diabolical Existence’s slow grinding dirge, Evocation’s nicely melodic soloing, all have something to recommend them, and whilst they may sound rather samey to those used to more modern Death Metal, even they will get a lot out of it. And that’s all that needs saying, really; if you’re into old-school Death Metal and haven’t become acquainted with Asphyx yet, there’s something seriously wrong.

Killing Songs :
Vermin, Evocation, The Sickening Dwell, The Rack
Goat quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Asphyx that we have reviewed:
Asphyx - Incoming Death reviewed by Andy and quoted 87 / 100
Asphyx - Deathhammer reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Asphyx - Last One On Earth reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Asphyx - Death... The Brutal Way reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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