Asphyx - Necroceros
Century Media
10 songs (50:16)
Release year: 2021
Asphyx, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat

Three decades on, ten albums in, it's worth savouring the existence of Dutch doomsters Asphyx, a band that take the essential building blocks of death metal - the riff, the snarl, the drumbeat - and throw in not only a hefty dose of rotten doom influence but keen sense of dynamics in songwriting, to ensure that each tempo shift hits the listener like the proverbial deathhammer. Veterans of the scene, Asphyx should require no introduction, from Martin van Drunen's unmistakeable hoarse shriek to the crunching guitar riffs courtesy of Thanatos/Hail of Bullets' Paul Baayens. And if you were to need one, then opener The Sole Cure is Death provides immediately with an infectiously fast, crushing opening riff, van Drunen howling atop like a madman atop a speeding d-beat train. A mid-track dip into doom metal hits just as hard as ever, the mood shifting as a touch of My Dying Bride-esque misery is allowed to creep in before the riffs revert to thrash speed; sure, the formula may not have changed much over the last few albums, but when it's this effective, it doesn't need to.

Which is unfairly dismissive of Asphyx's creative side, of course. Close listening to Necroceros (a splendidly silly title!) will show far more than a band going through the motions. The creeping, Bolt Thrower-esque Molten Black Earth is an early highlight, one of the best World War II-themed pounders that Asphyx have produced in a while as it relentlessly increases intensity through multiple tempo up- and down-shifts. The likes of Mount Skull and The Nameless Elite are cleverly built around earworm riffs, going on forays into chaotic speedy battering and returning triumphantly, with a touch of real melody allowed to seep through into Knights Templar Stand to make for a groovy stomper not a million miles away from Amon Amarth territory!

And when Asphyx truly get entrenched and spin their tales of woe out beyond the seven-minute mark, the surprisingly relevant Candlemass comparisons start to be thrown around yet again. Sure, the militaristic opening to Three Years of Famine may not sound much like Leif Edling and co, but listen beyond the 1:10 mark when a stunningly old-school doom riff rings out, lacking only a tolling bell for full impact. From then on, things turn more melodic (even with a clean guitar interlude that's almost progressive!) with mournful guitar harmonising before the dips back into sludge. How else could you follow such an epic piece except with the shortest, nastiest piece on the album, the three-minute Botox Implosion painting a grim image of image-obsessed celebrities and low self esteem-laden teens going under the knife in a manner more death/grind than anything else, as punky and brutal as the lyrics. And although there are no real filler pieces in this 50+ minute album, it's worth taking a moment to examine the closing seven-minute title track, which repeats the earlier trick of riff-usage but does it so well that the simple but relentless riff utterly crushes you. A fine end to a fine album, Asphyx remain both relevant and hugely enjoyable.

Killing Songs :
Molten Black Earth, Knights Templar Stand, Three Years of Famine, Necroceros
Goat quoted 87 / 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
Asphyx - The Rack reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
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