Necroceros

The human race is doomed and only death is real. 2020 was that kind of year. And now, to noisily emphasise that oblivion is definitely coming, the mighty ASPHYX are back with a brand new album and another blizzard of mortality-threatening riffs.

Formed in the Netherlands in 1987, ASPHYX have always been one of death metal’s most ruthlessly idiosyncratic bands. With a sound that draws from the rawest of materials, they have skilfully blended fast ‘n’ furious extremity with some of the most claustrophobic, suppurating slow-motion doom ever committed to tape. Opening their impeccable account with 1991’s stone cold classic The Rack, ASPHYX have never wavered from their singular vision, delivering a series of legendary albums that have always been considerably heavier than everything else around.

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After an extended hiatus begun at the dawn of the millennium, ASPHYX reunited in 2007 and demonstrated a newfound passion for the art of doom-laden death metal. With talismanic vocalist Martin van Drunen leading the charge, the Dutchmen have released a trio of universally acclaimed records – Death…The Brutal Way (2009), Deathhammer (2012) and Incoming Death (2016) – while further cementing their reputation as one of the most riotous and explosive bands in the metal underground. Coalescing around a stable line-up for the first time in many years, the ASPHYX of 2021 is a finely-honed and fired-up beast, ready to decimate the competition and bludgeon the rest of us with riff after gruesome riff.

Recorded during lockdown, the band’s tenth studio album Necroceros is manifestly heavier and more vicious than anything they have released before. Partly inspired by the horrors and frustrations of the pandemic era, Necroceros is also an outright celebration of ASPHYX’s genre-defining sound. The band’s current incarnation – Martin van Drunen, guitarist and chief songwriter Paul Baayens, bassist Alwin Zuur and drummer Stefan Hüskens – have clicked into a higher gear this time around, capitalising on a surfeit of free time to deliver their finest record yet.

 

As with its predecessor, Necroceros speaks volumes about the strength and focus of the ASPHYX line-up today. Paul Baayens’ seemingly endless arsenal of devastating riffs is simply undeniable: whether it’s the breakneck savagery of short, sharp ragers like opener The Sole Cure is Death and the snotty, tongue-in-cheek Botox Implosion, or gruelling, atmospheric dirges like the monolithic Three Years of Famine or the monstrous closing title track, Necroceros is a self-evident master class.

Deafening proof that the last 12 months have conjured a few positive results along the way, Necroceros is a murderous masterpiece for the never-ending age of death. Still heavier than just about everything else, ASPHYX will be first to the frontline of live performance when all this madness is over. After all, death comes to us all in the end.