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mostly good, with some small annoyances - 84%

stonetotem, May 7th, 2009

Holland was a country that for some inexplicable reason had just oodles of great death/doom around the early 90s (Sempiternal Deathreign, Delirium, Mourning and many others), and Asphyx knew how to dish it out as well as anyone. This album has been praised by many for being so sluggish, sludgy, brutal and crushing, but has also fallen under quite a bit of criticism with the usual "overrated" label. I would join in with the people praising it were it not for one off-putting quality, and that is that they just can't seem to stop with the chugging stop-and-go riffs that sound more like they belong in a Pantera song than this type of music. Really, they'll go on for sections of about 30 seconds of that annoyance, and then completely break off into filthy, ugly, sluggish death/doom played just the way I want it to be. Still, I can tolerate those bits of shit to get to that sweet sweet corn that is the majority of their music.

The production on the album is moderately good, not particularly filthy or muddy (which would be a huge plus, but you can look to their pre-album recordings for that). It isn't annoyingly clean and still allows the filth to flourish. The riffs alternate between mid paced to fast all-out death metal and sections of churning slow doomy rung out chords for the most part, but you'll also get a fair amount of thrashy riffs which are for the most part well written, heavy and interesting. The album also has some noisier and muckier parts to it, such as the noise solo in "The Sickening Dwell". Most of the riffs are more low end and heavy, but they do bring in the high end here and there, breaking off into a lead part and then returning to the heavier rhythm. As mentioned the real let down in the riff department is the dumb little chuggy stop-and-go riffs that are more lame half thrash shit than death or doom metal. The bass is mostly inaudible in the low end flurry of distortion. The drums are adequate but don't expect any creative fills or anything. The vocals are of note, with the singer of death/thrash legends Pestilence in the band. He delivers some great sickening screams just as one would expect.

Asphyx were a part of that huge group of death/doom bands to come out of Holland in the early 90s, and they're certainly the most well known and praised of that scene. They play just as well or better than some of their contemporaries, but once again, those dumb little chugging riffs are a piss off mixed in with otherwise quality death/doom. I'm not sure why this album has got so much flack in the form of negative reviews, other than the dreaded "it's overrated, I must give it a shit review to bring down the percentage" phenomenon. Anyhow, this is some quality death/doom, check it out.