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Just when you thought that Asphyx couldn't get any better - think how great "Embrace the Death" and "The Rack" were - they recorded something like "Last One On Earth" and left me speechless. This could be their best album in entire discography (although the impressive comeback LP, "Death the Brutal Way" dethroned it recently!!)! Impossible, you say? Of course everyone may have his own opinion, but to me this third album is the ultimate asphyxiation! Already the front cover makes me love this LP, definitely it's one of the best graphics in the history of death metal, probably also one of the most blasphemous ones. Decaying zombie priest, with this huge cross on his neck... and jesus weeping in agony... Come on, I can see Deicide envying.
The history says that the album could have been much different as it is, since Martin van Drunen recorded his vocals without knowing that the rest of the band wanted someone else (Ron van Pol) to sing and write the lyrics for the album. It's so weird, as van Drunen entered the studio, recorded all the vocals and left, without even seeing anyone else from the band! Luckily rest of the Asphyx (Daniels and Bagchus) decided to keep all the parts done by Martin... Anyone wonders what this album would be like if Ron van Pol recorded everything? Would it be better? I sincerely doubt that. Van Drunen has impressive voice, as always raw and screaming like maniac, what fits well to the Asphyx music. And I may not like all his lyrics, but I have to admit, I think he was one of the best death metal growlers at the time.
What do I like best about "Last One on Earth"? Well, let's be honest, musically this album doesn't bring anything new into the explored Asphyx style. The band already showed all their capabilities on the previous LPs and so this third album doesn't differ stylistically from them at all (maybe is bit faster, but that's it). But its strength lays in composing some of the best songs in band's career. It's all played in mid paced tempos mostly, but the feeling and aggression in these riffs are incredible. This is the kind of death metal I love; not overly complicated nor too melodic, not too complex or whatever, but music, which brings certain moods in the first place - be it something very dark, obscure, morbid or satanic or something, where you can smell the rotten stench floating around... Anyway, death metal with feelings, not mechanical bullshit. Asphyx is great at playing something like that, they may be the masters of this shit. And "Last One on Earth" stands as one of the best death metal albums in the history of the music, if we speak about the old school style.
To begin the album with such a track as "M.S. Bismarck", the success is guaranteed. I fuckin enjoy this song a lot, with this killer mid paced riff that opens it. This song is one fuckin moshpit killer, with the tempo and aggression uprising more and more; until that doomy part, where you still bang your head, as it also brings so much energy. Not bad as for the song about submarine he, he! Another favourite track of mine from side A of the vinyl is the title song. It is fuckin brilliant. Much slower than the "submarine anthem", it is so massive and heavy that the walls crack. And when at the end I hear this slow riff with mournful keyboards in the background, I get thrills like hardly ever. Pure masterpiece. And finally Eric Daniels plays some of his fantastic guitar leads here; I though he forgot how to do it! "The Krusher" is also all about the slow, brutal riffing, only at the end the song speeds up a bit. Surely this version of "The Krusher" sounds better than the one from "Crush the Cenotaph" EP. Oh, and if you're in need for some faster, more intense playing, "Serenade in Lead" is a pure slaughter, which doesn't slow down even for a second.
Side B brings attention with "Streams of Ancient Wisdom" especially. This is the old song originally from the "Mutilating Process" (1990) and also from "Embrace the Death" album. These archaic sounds still shred to pieces and even though I may prefer the other versions of this song, the one from "Last One On Earth" also kills. Another brilliant song from this side the vinyl is "Asphyx (Forgotten War)". Man, this is just classic Asphyx song, with the obscure riffs, either slow and heavy or mid paced and more violent... But the morbid atmosphere is there. From the other tracks, "Food For the Ignorants" is similar to "Serenade In Lead", just straight forward and relentless riffing, with only one slightly slower part in the middle, which is one god damn crushing headbanging riff.
So, as you see, Asphyx again delivered some great death metal anthems and the quality of their material didn't disappoint. Even though I really love "The Rack", "Last One On Earth" has one thing that makes this album a winner. It's the production; Asphyx went to different studio, Harrows in Holland and definitely got better, more aggressive sound than the one from Woodhouse. I may understand that to some this music may sound too primitive or too slow, but this is death metal I like. Asphyx rules and so does "Last One On Earth".
Through heavy rythms, crushing headbanging melodies, Asphyx brought us here a masterpiece. Truly it stands as on of death metals best, the kind that leaves tthe listener wandering what kind of maniacs conjured this masterpiece. Well the Netherlands does seem like it would be a place to inspire many a metal freak, and a yes the death freaks were inspired. Last One on Earth portrays exactly what the title stands for, this is death metal at its heaviest, pushed beyond the sonic boundaries of sound. Staying true to the ancient death metal sound, this is no avant-garde over the top techinical death metal, no sillyness here folks. Only pure apocalyptic death.
Starting of with MS Bismark, the music rolls into heavy rythms of thrashing and headbanging. All the while the listener waits patiently at whats to come next. You are then invited into Martin Van Drunens lyrical destruction, and can this man horribly sing, and thats a good thing in the world of death metal. It seems obvious he took his lessons from Mr. Becerra, and dare I say surpassing his vocal shrieks. I first came across Martin Van Drunen is Pestilence's Malleus Malleficarum, another gem, a thrashing album of sorts. But it is in this album that Mr Drunen delivered his overall vocal performance. To no let down the other musicians they also contributed to this crushing sound. The guitars are the center to this album, doomy and thrashy, they bulid ambience around the drums and Martins hellish howls. Note the crushing riffs to the Last One on Earth, no need for blasts beats or mid tempo beats, the riffs are what make this song heavy. To say this is one of my death metal favs, the atmosphere is jusy sick, memorable riffs all around, two horns up, also check out Celtic Frosts " Dawn of Meggido".
If you look for total destruction in your death metal you cant go wrong with Asphyx. Here is a gem that needs a bit more attention. Definately wont let down, only in ruin, post apocalyptic death metal!
On ‘Last One On Earth ’ Asphyx corrected two of the three major fuck-ups that had earlier damaged ‘The Rack’. First of all the production was (finally!) mega mighty. Enormously wide and thick layers of guitars but without damaging the other instruments this time. The drums finally sounded good. The band had clearly learned from earlier mistakes.
Same goes for the second improvement: more up tempo songs and sections make this album far less monotone and more dynamic than ‘The Rack’. The band was clearly more focussed on releasing an album not only featuring good individual songs but staying interesting as a whole from start till finish as well. And what a way it did end! ‘Asphyx (Forgotten War)’ is one of the best songs on the album. Hell, it’s one of the best in their career. Heavy, dynamic, it had everything an Asphyx fan could wish for. Also the old EP classic ‘Streams Of Ancient Wisdom’ was re-recorded for this album.
‘The Last One On Earth’ saw the band introducing vocalist/bassist Ron van Pol but Van Drunen’s vocals were kept. Van Drunen however sounds rather different than earlier Asphyx and Pestilence releases. His vocals have a higher pitch than normal yet I find these vocals rather suiting, giving contrast to the ultra heavy guitars. Van Drunen actually sounded more ‘in touch’ with the band and especially the atmosphere of the music instead of just grunting some lyrics over an already recorded album. The weird thing being that the band had already decided to fire him when he was recording. But he does a more than adequate job here, simply shattering what he had done on The Rack.
“Last One on Earth” is a solid album of death-doom metal. On vocals, legendary Martin Van Drunen delivers his trademark low deep growl, with the occasional high-pitched scream. Asphyx music weaves in and out between slow dense rhythms, heavy as anything, and then braking into dense bursts of pure death metal.
Released in 1992, “Last One on Earth” would be the third and last time Martin Van Drunen recorded with Asphyx, the first of course being 1991’s “The Rack” and the 1992 ep "Crush The Cenotaph". Even though both albums sound very similar, this album has a more violent and aggressive sound in most of its songs. Asphyx music is not intricate and fancy, no 100 mile per hour double drum blasts, no elaborate guitar solos or sophisticated bass patterns. Asphyx is the true definition of “old school death metal”. The music is simple, yet the riffs and over all rhythms all come together to form an evil and raw sound.
The first four tracks of the album “M.S. Bismarck”, “The Krusher”, “Serenade in Lead” and “Last One on Earth” follow the formula of starting with a slow melody, introduce Martins growl with a scream and then step up the tempo until it becomes death metal, Van Drunens voice terrifying the listener the whole time.
Track number 6, “Streams of Ancient Wisdom” is a bonus for the true Asphyx fanatic. This song was first released with the mystical Theo Loomans on vocals in 1989 in a single called “Mutilating Process”, this track can also be heard with Theo on vocals in the “Embrace the Death” album. Here we get to hear Van Drunen have a crack at it, and even though the brutality of the original song would be hard to recreate by any vocalist, Martin pulls it off. I am not sure if the exact same lyrics are used in both versions, it is well known that Martin refused to sing many of Theo’s original lyrics, calling them very obscure and mysterious.
The album closes with two brutal death metal tracks, “Food for the Ignorant” and “Asphyx (Forgotten War)” they are the heaviest tracks in the album and really finish the album of brilliantly. This album is a must for every single death metal fan, the bands ability to churn out riff after riff of head banging proportions really amazes me and will make you yearn for the death metal of the early 90’s!