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Asphyx: Deathhammer

Throughout the years, I’ve already heard the name Asphyx. However, over those same many years, I admit that I don’t think I have ever really heard anything by them before. As I now hide in the corner of my bunker i.e. apartment living room awaiting the crazed fans to come track me down for a good old-fashioned lynching at the least, I look back at the band’s history and realize they are a lot bigger than I had thought. Honestly, the name didn’t even crop up to my attention until maybe four, five years ago when I happened upon the band’s logo on a shirt someone was wearing in a photo. About a year later I saw one of the band’s albums in a local record store, didn’t have the money to buy it, and when I did go back for it the release was gone and grabbed something else to fill the void of boredom I was suffering from thanks to forgetting to bring a CD with me to replace the one I had heard a million times already and was bored of. After that, they kind of just slipped my mind…

So, while updating the 2012 upcoming release list and que, I receive an e-mail from Century Media informing me of the release date for Deathammer.Again, I didn’t pay much attention, assuming this was only maybe their third album, and entered it in. Oh how little I knew until the past two weeks. About a week ago, after a ten-day period of fighting with my e-mail server and the site’s host doing constant “routine” maintenance making it impossible to retrieve and send any messages whatsoever, I found Deathhammer sitting in the inbox. I logged into the press site the label uses, I download the album, and then I…immediately proceed to go to sleep. There was work to be done later, and a paycheck to be earned. Again, it sat, but this time it was on my mind.

Earlier this morning, after a long night of work and trying to get the big releases of the week reviewed, which prior to this article I officially finished up doing, I went back to grinding my way through Final Fantasy XIII-2. As I hunted for various missed fragments in order to proceed the story along, looking for at least one wild artefact to open a time gate, I began to find the music rather boring and repetitive (you can only listen to a soft harmonization of the word “Chocobo” so many times before you want to break the disc in half) and loaded up the Metal inbox file of the external drive. That’s when it hit me: “I have that Asphyx CD. I should check it out and see what the hell is so great about this band and shut everyone yelling me the hell up already!”

And with that mental declaration, my Asphyx cherry had been popped. The group’s mixture of Death Metal and Doom Metal definitely did catch me off guard, as I didn’t really know what to expect from them at all. And as of right now, I’m still kind of indifferent with them. I paid close enough attention due to just spamming the a button on my controller during battles, so I did get to take in what the group offers. My time with the first four songs made a good replacement soundtrack to the game, but from what I heard, that’s about where it stands. I never got to hear any of the band’s past material, which I intend to do prior to my review of Deathhammer, but overall it wasn’t the most amazing musical experience like everyone had built it up to be.

But, I think that’s where it all went wrong. The moment I mentioned to some of my friends I had yet to actually hear an Asphyx album, or at least I don’t think so, they jumped down my throat about how I have to check it out. Aside that, finding the logo on various shirts of other band’s members, people talking about the band over the years, I kinda walked into this one expecting the most amazing thing ever, even more grand than sliced bread, winning the lottery, or watching Jesus Christ return only to do a one night stint of parlor magic tricks (admit it you’d go to see him try to make the “I got your nose” gag seem like the most divine experience int he world…) Sadly, nothing really lived up to that expectation. What I heard was good, there’s no denying that, but overall it just wasn’t that impressive, even taking their twenty plus year history into consideration.

By now, you probably think I’m crazy, which I kind of am after three years of this site, but I digress. This is just my casual impression to listening to some of the new album. The more research I do, the more I find plenty of other albums suggested to check out by the band, such as their 1992 release Last One on Earth among a few others. Even the past few releases seem to be pretty high up there among the metal critics, and even just casual writers and die-hard fans. Maybe I’m just jumping in at the wrong time, or just expected too much. As I’m writing this piece, I threw Deathhammer back on, and I’m about the same as where I was this morning and outline in the article. Not too much more impressed, but liking it a little more than before.

Don’t look at this discussion as me bashing the band, or showing them little to no respect. Honestly, while I really haven’t heard much of their work, I do still respect this band a lot. After having existed for so many years, releasing seven full-length albums, not counting the upcoming eigth, and a very long list of former band members over the years, no one can simply say they have no respect for them. Just the fact that the group has persevered and continued to write music after the passing of in-again/out-again member Theo Loomans in 1998 despite having only put in roughly four years work (according to Metal Archives that is when I looked up the band history there today) without trying to cash in on his name shows a lot. That’s a statement that kills me to type, as there are too many acts who had a member pass away, and then turned around and re-recorded material or reissued the release(s) with that fallen brother “in honor” or “in memory” but still charge full price for you to get another chance at paying your respects. But that’s another discussion and rant for another time…

Now that I know the group has such a strong and vibrant history, I’m planning to check out their past material very soon. Honestly, that may be another thing holding me back from really appreciating the band, as well as this album. And, with the way I was looked down upon by fellow writers and friends, I’m sure I’ll find plenty of offers to borrow an album or two in order to familiarize myself with the group. But, for now, I’ll be spending some more quality time with this effort as the days go on. I’m already banging my head along to some of the songs, so that right there is a good sign for the critical review, and I’m sure I’ll find more reasons to do that as I go through this release, and the many others before it. It’s obvious right now that Asphyx is going to be a major focal point in my immediate life, and I’ll probably be spending more time listening to their material than some of the staples I usually keep with me in my car, the only time I get to really enjoy the music I have anymore. I’m definitely not saddened, and I look forward to experiencing what I clearly missed out on in the now fourteen years worth of Metal exposure of my existence.

…I sure do hope that’s wind pounding against my door…