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Quite primitive, bestial and asphyxiatingly heavy death/doom is what “The Rack” is all about. “Death the fuckin’ brutal way!” was the band’s slogan and this album proves that they can back up their statement. The guitar sound is exceptional: buzzing and heavy, the guitars sound more like flamethrowers than actual guitars, haha.
This album was released at a time death metal was getting more and more technical and losing the darkness of the music. Asphyx however, decided to stick to their roots and do what they do best: simple and heavy-as-hell music. The first song is called “The Quest of Absurdity” and it’s a dark keyboard track, which is rather good with some “space choirs” in the middle of the track. As soon as the aforementioned track has faded out, “Vermin” comes charging in all guns blazing but it’s more like a mid-tempo thrash track, don’t expect any blast beats from Asphyx. Also some other tracks have fast thrash-type parts in them (e.g. “Wasteland of Terror”, “Pages in Blood” and the title track) but in general “The Rack” is pretty doom oriented, so speed freaks should not buy this. Neither should those that demand their death metal played very technically.
“Diabolical Existence”, “Pages in Blood” and the title track show Asphyx at their very best. These three tracks are death/doom masterpieces that manage to combine simplicity and crushing heaviness in a fabulous manner. The title track starts in the same vein as Hellhammer’s “Triumph of Death” and Hellhammer is indeed one of Asphyx’ main influences. There’s also some excellent muted palm riffing on this track that combined with the buzzing guitar sound creates a thick and impenetrable wall. The keyboards make a return at the end of this track, playing nicely along with the main riff until the song fades out.
Vocalist/bassist Martin van Drunen is in great form on “The Rack”. His voice sounds even more hoarse and cancerous than on Pestilence’s “Consuming Impulse”. Combined with the heavy and mostly slow music, it makes for a really extreme experience. I’d say “Vermin”, “Evocation” and “Pages in Blood” are the tracks with the best vocal performance on this album. When you’re in the mood for some extremely heavy music with a suffocating feel to it and some of the most extreme vocals you’ll ever hear, “The Rack” is the album to get.