Saturday, January 4, 2014

Asphyx - The Rack (1991)

For me, one of the all-time worst moments in metal history came when I discovered that Martin Van Drunen was no longer in Pestilence. After the the godly 'Consuming Impulse' I was beyond stoked to see what the band would come up with next. See, in those days I wasn't nearly as jaded as I had become throughout the years since as death metal was still in its infancy, so I figured that whatever Pestilence released would at the very least be on par with 'Consuming Impulse'. Well... we'll never know as MVD got the boot and Pestilence decided to write death metal versions of Air Supply songs for their next few releases.

I remember breathing a sigh of relief upon learning that MVD was now fronting Asphyx, not only because he was back in action but also because death/doom is a musical style perhaps closest to my heart than all others.

I'll admit, I had slightly mixed feelings once the music got going. The drummer certainly wasn't the greatest in the world (think a sloppier yet more outgoing Lars Ulrich) and some of the riffs came across as being simply amateurish, which was a puzzle in itself as there are sporadic moments of genius sprinkled throughout in regards to riffery and the occasional lead. Van Drunen himself sounded a bit higher in pitch compared to his work on 'Consuming Impulse', something that I was rather unsure about. Sure, I was weened on the "witchier" sounding vocals of German thrash as those were something of a "prototype" for what would come in the form of standard death metal "singing" but I have to say, once the pitch was deepened my interest was piqued. That's not to say that I turned my back on those who employed the more "traditional" rasp, but I admittedly paid closer attention to those with a deeper "command" (ie Covenant era David Vincent, Glen Benton on Deicide's debut, etc).

As previously mentioned, the riffing ranges from fast to mid-pace and all the way down to doom. The album's slower moments are the draw fro me as I was never terribly enthusiastic over fast paced death metal and the mid-paced sections sound wobbly and uneven due in no small part to the goofy drumming which sounds like someone practicing on a kit made out of pillows and garbage cans. Fake "true schoolers" can whine all they want about triggers but I'll take a nice Morrisound setup over this ANY day of the week.

'The Rack' is an album that I quite enjoyed (despite some of the more skippable material) upon first listen and for a while since but twenty or so years later and it's apparent that it hasn't aged well. In truth Asphyx were really nothing more than a couple of amateur musicians whose ranks boasted that of a name brand vocalist who himself was nothing more than a rookie bassist.

If there's one thing that I have to give credit to Asphyx for, it is their knack for bad ass album covers

1 comment:

  1. I generally prefered mvd's performance on Consuming Impulse, but he sometimes gets almost impossibly high on this one, which is awesome.