Asphyx - Last One On Earth
Century Media
Death Metal
8 songs (40:11)
Release year: 1992
Asphyx, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Groovy Death Metal is one thing, but grooving Old School Death Metal is quite another, and any Metalhead worth his or her salt will be more than aware of the difference. Dutch Doomsters Asphyx were one of the early players in the genre, mixing Death and Doom in a single tasty, nutritious package, and whilst debut The Rack was decent, it’s the band’s second full length Last One On Earth that really is remembered well. It’s hard to say exactly what it is about it that makes it so good. Certainly, the unholy screeching of vocalist Martin van Drunen and the gut-churning riffage of Eric Daniels help a lot, combining to create the impression that you are being serenaded by the rotting victims of World War 3.

It’s the songwriting, however, which I (as ever) find truly impressive, switching between rabid Death Metal speed and wrenching Doom heaviness at exactly the right moments. Each and every one of the eight songs on the album are near-perfect, headbanging anthems that will have every neck in auditory range snapping in and out of its socket repeatedly. Highlights are too fast and frequent to go through them all, but the groovy opening madness of MS Birmark has to be mentioned, as does the following intensity of The Krusher, settling into a rhythmic pounding that is hard to resist. The blasting insanity of Serenade In Lead soon follows, summing up the mad horror of war as only Dutch Death Metal bands can – a perfect aural companion to the zombie priest on the cover, in a great touch literally rendered armless. There are no weak tracks whatsoever, Streams Of Ancient Wisdom and Food For The Ignorant both slaughtering all challengers, and closing roar Asphyx (The Forgotten War) is simply a blitz of old school Death Metal wrath that has to be heard to be believed.

You can’t listen to this album and not praise vocalist van Drunen to the skies. The other members of the band had actually fired him yet unaware he recorded the vocals, and so good was his performance that the band saw no need to get rid of it. His utterly miserable howl on the likes of the title track adds an extra layering of atmosphere – “utopia was always out of reach” is the lament, pure terror and sadness mingling as riffs grind away mercilessly behind him. All that you, the listener, are left with is the ability to headbang, helpless in the face of your own mortality and a guitar solo that threatens My Dying Bride for sheer miserable glory.

Asphyx are one of the few bands left that still carry the torch of the old school, many of their peers having fallen to the relentless grind of modernity. The differences in sound between recent comeback Death... The Brutal Way and this album are so slight that they’re not worth mentioning. Without a doubt, the band are deserving of your time, but Last One On Earth is that rare masterpiece, an old-school Death Metal album that resonates as strongly now as it did the day it was released. Vital if you call your collection anything near completed, whether you’re a fan of the donkey-mending horde or not.

Killing Songs :
MS Bismark, The Krusher, Last One On Earth, Streams Of Ancient Wisdom, Asphyx (The Forgotten War)
Goat quoted 89 / 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 - Death... The Brutal Way reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Asphyx - The Rack reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
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