After Autopsy delivered an awesome album last year, I had high hopes for Asphyx's "Deathhammer," simply because these guys are one of my favorite death metal bands and if Autopsy could do it, why not The Netherlands' best death metal act? Well, I may have made the mistake of having such high expectations for this record. This isn't a bad record, not at all, but I may have set the bar too high and set myself up for disappointment, as this wasn't as brilliant as I hoped it would be.
Soundwise, "Deathhammer" sounds like you would expect Asphyx to sound. The same doom-laden and heavy assault from past records like "The Rack" and "Last One On Earth," only with 2012 production, and less substance as well. This album kicks off with the track "Into the Timewastes" and it gets right into it with the intense riffage and Van Drunen's instantly identifiable voice (which is still as amazing as it ever was) and with this song it almost seems like Asphyx were trying to do what they did on their debut album with the song "Vermin," as there isn't any fancy intro, it just gets straight into the goods. The title track and "Vespa Crobro" are similar to the opening song, as they don't even try to stray away from the heavy assault, there's just a mix of some nice death metal tremolo passages and catchy midpaced riffs.
You won't have to wait long to hear that doomy sound that Asphyx is known for though, as the third track "Minefield" opens with a riff that is sure to give you a good nostalgia kick and reminds one of songs like "The Rack" and "Asphyx (Forgotten War)." The song "Der Landser" is also really doomy, but a bit more eerie sounding than the aforementioned "Minefield." The final colossus on "Deathhammer," "As the Magma Mammoth Rises" is downright amazing, as it opens with the shriek of the whammy bar before smoothly transitioning into some stellar riffs that just slither along. The song eventually builds up as it moves along and conveys the title perfectly, with the conclusion coming after Asphyx ventures into familiar territory with the heavy powerchords being backed by Bob Bagchus fast-paced drumming (think "Pages in Blood").
Aside from the two mediocre tracks "Reign of the Brute" and "We Doom You to Death" (Gotta love that play on words), "Deathhammer" is a very solid record that all Asphyx fans should enjoy thoroughly. It may not live up to the masterpiece that is "Last One On Earth," but this is a fine addition to the highly impressive resume of the band, and should have no problem showing these young guns how to make proper death metal in 2012.
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"Into the Timewastes"
"As the Magma Mammoth Rises"
4.3/5 or 86%.