asphyx-incoming-deathUnlike certain Ontarian bureaucrats intent on violating the Charter rights of yours truly over a speeding ticket, allow me to provide you with full disclosure: I’m a massive fan of Asphyx. When I first heard “Death…the Brutal Way” I was hooked, and ordered the record from HMV (remember those?), paying a cool twenty bucks for it. Throwing it on in the car, I was hit immediately with the raucous “Scorbutics” and fortunately stopped at a red light when the impossible-not-to-headbang-along chorus hit. I dove into their back catalog and found even more greatness, and when the band’s highly anticipated Deathhammer came out in 2012 it became and remains one of my favorite metal records of the 2010’s. Now Incoming Death is upon us, and these death-doom peddling Dutchmen are back to slay ultra-loud once more.

For those unaware, drummer and founding member Bob Bagchus (thankfully still in Soulburn) left Asphyx recently. Bagchus was a primary songwriter, so now the brunt of those duties fall on the capable shoulders of guitarist Paul Baayens, who’s also in Hail of Bullets. Bagchus’s replacement Stefan Hüsken is a more “typical” metal drummer, opening up options for greater speed and complexity but removing a definitive part of both the classic and latter-day Asphyx sound. Yet Incoming Death remains firmly in their definitive wheelhouse of mid-paced and occasionally quick death mixed with devastating, molasses-paced doom.

Given that Asphyx are veterans and know how to make quality records, Incoming Death has a wealth of top-shelf material on it. The title track is basically “Deathhammer” 2.0, a short, catchy, crusty, and fun outburst that’s sure to go over well live. “It Came from the Skies” is quintessential Asphyx: great riffing, a thrash bit reminiscent of Last One on Earth, and a brilliant vocal performance from Martin van Drunen. Hüsken largely tones down his fills to sound like Bagchus, and it’s a nice touch that helps keep the band’s established sound intact. The crushing “Subterra Incognita” is the record’s best doom track, with Baayens putting his own spin on the classic Daniels-style melodicism as he did on “Minefield” and other contemporary Asphyx highlights. “Wildland Fire” is more thoroughly well-done old-style faster Asphyx, with top-tier performances from the whole band. If you need one reason to believe these guys have plenty more left in the tank, this track is it.Asphyx 2016

While Baayens is indisputably a good songwriter, the lack of Bagchus’s old Asphyx counterweight has led to some mixed results (by Asphyx standards) in spots. Somewhat disappointingly, two of the three long, doomy songs are the most obvious examples. “The Grand Denial” is a quality tune, but at certain points it uses a melodic lead that sounds a lot more like a Hail of Bullets closing track than Asphyx. While I enjoy the former, we’re all here for the band whose name is on the tin. Starting on some riffing reminiscent of Immortal like “As the Magma Mammoth Rises” did, “Death: The Only Immortal” sounds great up until the 5:20 mark, where it starts sounding like (you guessed it) a Hail of Bullets closing number. The faster songs have less of this issue, but “Forerunners of the Apocalypse” made me forget I was listening to Asphyx instead of half of Asphyx’s side project. It’s still quite good, but not the sort of good any of us wanted from Incoming Death.

Dan Swanö is back behind the boards again, and to my great surprise Incoming Death is more dynamic than its last two predecessors. Everything is massive here; Hüsken’s drums are bludgeoning, Baayens’s guitar is clear but crushing krushing, and Alwin Zuur’s bass retains its big tone from Deathhammer but is happily more audible this time around. All of this considered, it’s impossible not to consider Incoming Death the worst post-reunion Asphyx record by a small but noticeable margin. Now, “worst post-reunion Asphyx record” is better than at least three-quarters of metal released this year, so don’t take this as a condemnation of a worthwhile, memorable, and engaging record. My expectations for this record were rather high given the quality of its two predecessors, and if any other band’s name was on Incoming Death I’d score it one notch higher without hesitation. I believe that it would be a disservice to the greatness and legacy of Asphyx to not hold them to a higher standard than normal, so take the score as a gesture of respect and admiration for one of the genre’s best bands, not a worrying drop in quality from Deathhammer.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: asphyx.nl | facebook.com/officialasphyx
Releases Worldwide: September 30th, 2016

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  • Innit Bartender

    “Now what’s this thing? A schyte you say? Mhhh! Fascinating!”

  • Norfair Legend

    This is a 5 for me. This is also why I do not review and would be considered a hack if I did. I will buy this, put on my plastic Viking helm and drink my beer whilst head banging, hailing the mighty Asphyx while I try not to spill. That’s a Saturday night and a “perfect” tag if I ever heard one.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    These guys are legendary. 25 years of kickass music and they still freaking rock your face off. They’re even better live.

    This, ladies and gents, is how death/doom is done.

  • sir_c

    As the reviewer said, a bad Asphyx album still is way better than a good album from a mediocre death metal act. Must say this album sounds pretty solid, so let’s see if it’s a keeper.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Luckily this isn’t a bad Asphyx record then!

      • sir_c

        Indeed, it sounds pretty decent.

  • Bart the Repairman

    Wow, that tone is ‘krushing’ indeed; all the heaviness in my headphones makes me feel like poor prince Oberyn being hugged by The Mountain.

  • TminusEight

    This is more like it. Not enough references to Mongol warriors in metal these days…

  • The Unicorn

    Van Drunen’s strained dump vocals are the fucking best.

    • GardensTale

      See, I love everything about this except the vocals. They just don’t do it for me, maybe I could learn to like them but that day ain’t near. Makes me wish Jan Chris de Koeyer (Gorefest) was still performing, he’s my favourite Dutch metal vocalist.

      • Dead1

        I love Jan Chris de Koeyer vocals. He would’ve sounded phenomenal on this album – a monstrous growl to go with a monstrous sound.

        Having said that I don’t mind Martin van Drunen’s vocals. They have a slight Tomas Lindberg (At The Gates) vibe and as such the music probably needs a sharper edge for him to really fit in.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        So, you don’t like Martin Van Drunen vocals? You must be either really old or really young. ;)

        • GardensTale

          I’m 28, wouldn’t call that really young personally but your standards may differ ;) like I said, might just have to get used to them. Took me an hour of spamming the same song before I got used to Ram-Zet’s vocals so there is precedence for this sort of thing!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            28? That means you’re too young to have listened to Martin Van Drunen “back in the day” in Pestilence and Asphyx. He is one of the main innovators in Death Metal vocals, a living legend and like I said somewhere else on this page, there should be a statue of Martin Van Drunen somewhere in the Netherlands.
            Maybe try listening to some early Pestilence and early Asphyx. Or Hail Of Bullets.

      • Francisco Ochoa

        Try with The Rack, the early stuff from the band.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      I’d listen to anything with that man’s vocals. Even a strained dump…

      … especially a strained dump.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    So many things in this review are making me think of other things:

    Scorbutics — Sore buttocks
    Hüsken — Hüsker Dü
    Baayen — Bayer
    It Came From the Skies — CCR’s It Came Out of the Sky
    Minefield — Hey, are albums of 70+ mins a bad idea?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      As soon as I read Alwin Zuur I thought “didn’t that guy use to be a Green Lantern?”

    • [not a Dr]

      Asphyx — Ass fix

  • lennymccall

    I grew up as a teen in the 90s rocking The Rack tape on my Walkman skating all over town almost every day (along with Morgoth, Cursed/ Grave, Into the Grave/ Sepultura, Beneath the Remains, Morbid Angel, Altars of Madness/ Etc…). It shaped my whole world view not to mention my music taste.
    I will always be a fan of this band and the two songs I’ve heard from this have me super pumped for the full record.

  • Jason

    I’ll be on the lookout for this one!

  • tomasjacobi

    Looking forward to this and Dan Swanö has confirmed to me on Facebook that this has what he calls a “mega dynamic mix” for the vinyl version. Gotta love that man!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Eek, no thanks. “Big Dumb Skulls” would have loved that album cover, though.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Big Dumb Skulls, hell yeaaah!

  • Ansuz

    I was crushed when Van Drunen left Pestilence after Consuming. That said, he soldiered on and to this day remains on of the most important voices in extreme metal.

  • De2013

    Very nice. Aomewhat surprised to see this out already. Felt like Deathhammer came out in 2014 or so, but no: “Deathhammer came out in 2012”.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    There should be a statue of Martin Van Drunen somewhere in the Netherlands.

    • De2013

      There should be, but no. Not yet at least.

  • Aguy

    Not a fan of the vocals either. Pity, because those guitars are 100% pure beef.

  • Requiem

    Honestly that Nightmares Made Flesh-era Bloodbath riff tone is my favourite goddamn thing on planet Earth. Loving this!

  • Jeremy Freeman

    The vocalist ruins this band. Horribly. I had heard of them before, I knew there was a reason I didn’t like them. Still don’t.

  • xn0

    Ever since the crusty “The Rack” debut back in the 90s, they rock. They do not dissappoint. The Motörhead of Death?

  • jersey devil

    Fuck yes. That embedded track had me hooked within 1 second. No screwing around with these guys. Fucking beautiful heavy.

  • Nick Maestas

    I actually liked this one more than Deathhammer which isn’t saying much considering everything from Asphyx is really good. It’s crazy how this music for being pretty simple is so good, well not everything needs to be technical as shit sometimes it’s good to have some simple hard hitting death metal to supplement the crazy tech shit :) What are your thoughts on this one Steel Druhm since you reviewed Deathhammer?

    • I haven’t had a chance yet to give this the intensive spins I would if reviewing it, but my initial impression is it’s a bit less impressive than Deathhammer but still very solid.

      • Nick Maestas

        For sure I started to notice some songs with pretty similar structures and riffs to Deathhammer, hmmmm maybe not as good as Deathhammer but yea it’s a good album for sure.

  • Arya

    Just a note that Paul Baayens has been the primary song writer since the band’s reunion. He wrote all the material on Death…the Brutal Way and Deathhammer. Not Bob. Anyway, new album is fantastic!

  • Francisco Ochoa

    To begin with, the review was made by someone that hear for the first time Asphyx with the album “Death… The Brutal Way” for me is not valid or completely accurate. I listened for the first time this band back in 1991 with the very first album “The Rack”, hence for me this 2016 release has a rate of 5.0, the band evolved great with the last three albums and the return for the original singer and at that time bassist Martin van Drunen.

    Please study a little bit more about a band in order to write more accurate reviews.

    This album is brutal and is part of a perfect trilogy with Death…. The Brutal Way, Deathhammer and Incoming Death!!