Since reforming in 2007 Asphyx have taken a workmanlike approach to crafting their brand of death and doom metal, each album carefully reiterating upon the juxtaposition of leaden doom riffs and more aggressive thrash passages. Necroceros is their 4th album since they reunited, inspired and recorded during the 2020 pandemic and may be the closest in spirit to their most iconic work, 1992’s Last One On Earth. While not a direct predecessor to those early 90’s albums, Necroceros demonstrates a confidence in musicianship that rivals that era, which one may have found lacking in their post-reunion work up until now.
It is from the third song of Necroceros, ‘Mount Skull’ where vocalist Martin van Drunen and guitarist Paul Baayens’ past 14 years of honing Asphyx’s current identity becomes evident. From here Baayens’ guitar work displays a diversity in tone that allows Necroceros to transcend the monotonous pacing of their most recent albums. Although Necroceros was written during the 2020 pandemic, the mood of the album is triumphant, a final acceptance and release from the death instinct that has plagued us for the past year. The songcraft across all 10 songs captures the transition of emotive states in a disembodied form of existence, from a bitter bliss that comes with losing one’s permanence on ‘Three Years Of Famine’ to the disgust at being torn from the dreamverse to a reality where 1000 people can die daily without anyone held accountable on tracks like ‘The Nameless Elite’ and ‘Yield or Die’.
Necroceros finally finds Asphyx moving away from the shadow of their early 90’s albums to a sound more in line with Drunen and Baayens’ original intention. In doing away with the constraints of their previous doom intonations, they find a less derivative and celebratory sonic identity that fully realises their thematic occupations of the human relation to death and mortality.
Necroceros is out now via Century Media and can be ordered here.
Words: Joe-Julian Naitsri