Most band reunions are about nostalgia. About bringing the old songs back for the loyal diehards. While that was undoubtedly the plan when ASPHYX returned to the stage in 2007, several years after the band’s demise, an unforgettable performance proved the Dutch death/doom masters were far from finished with their signature old-school sound. While classic albums like “The Rack” and “Last One On Earth” established their permanent place in the annals of death metal history, 2009’s “Death…The Brutal Way” and especially 2012’s “Deathhammer” brought in legions of new fans and propelled the band into the upper echelon of death metal supremacy. Now, four years later, ASPHYX is ready to unleash another dose of merciless brutality on the masses, with 2016’s “Incoming Death.”
Formed in 1987, ASPHYX took the burgeoning underground scene by storm, with a crushing sound inspired by the likes of Venom, Messiah, Hellhammer, and Slaughter. After producing several demos that rapidly spread through tape trading, full-length masterpieces “The Rack” (1991) and “Last One On Earth” (1992) led to international success and tours with Bolt Thrower, Benediction and Entombed. Despite rising to be one of the international metal scene’s premiere bands, a slew of line-up issues led to the band’s eventual demise in 2000.
In 2007, Germany’s Party.San Open Air festival shocked the metal community with the announcement of an ASPHYX reunion show, featuring founding member Bob Bagchus (drums), legendary growler Martin van Drunen (Pestilence, Bolt Thrower), guitarist Paul Baayens (Thanatos, Hail of Bullets) and bassist Wannes Gubbels (Pentacle, Soulburn). The band’s triumphant return to the stage soon led to the release of “Death…The Brutal Way” (20009), which bucked the modern-day trend toward speed and technical complexity, and instead delivered a re-energized take on the traditional ASPHYX sound of doom-laden groove, pounding drums, gut-wrenching vocals, and an aura of inescapable desolation. The incredible response from fans old and new re-established ASPHYX as an unstoppable force in metal, able to deliver crushing blows of aggression and gloom in the raw, authentic style forged decades before. In 2012, with new bassist Alwin Zuur (Escutcheon) on board, the band forged “Deathhammer,” a phenomenal success celebrated by hordes of ASPHYX fans worldwide.
It seemed that the struggles that had plagued ASPHYX in the past were well behind them, with a stable line-up producing the band’s heaviest and most refined work to date, achieving a previously unforeseen level of popularity and status. But in 2013, drummer and founder Bob Bagchus was no longer able to balance the increasing demand for live performances with his family life and work. The band fully supported and understood his decision, but feared it was the end of ASPHYX. Bob, however, expressed his desire for the band to continue to build on its recent successes. The question was: Who could possibly replace him? It wasn’t a matter of finding the best drummer, but rather someone who would respect and honor the ASPHYX tradition. One day, when Alwin and Martin were driving to a show, Alwin suggested a friend from the German band Desaster, Stefan “Husky” Hüskens. After several minutes of silence, Martin replied, “If there’s one who deserves it and would fit totally, it’s gotta be Husky.” As a long-time fan, complete with ASPHYX tattoos on his arms, Husky was overwhelmed and honored as he accepted the offer. Bob played his final show with ASPHYX in September 2013 at Rock Hard Festival in front of an intense Italian crowd. A very worthy Last One…
After rehearsals, Husky finally took the stage with ASPHYX, again playing in Italy, in May 2014, and over the many shows that followed, proved to be a worthy successor to the drumming throne. With his booming, fierce beats and incredible energy, all fears of the band ending after Bob’s departure faded. In addition to shows in Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, England, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Netherlands, and Belgium, the band embarked on a 10-day tour all over South and Central America. With outrageous audiences every night, it was undeniably one of the highlights in ASPHYX’s long tenure. With the lineup once again solid and the fanbase bigger than ever, the band started work on a new album.
While distances between band members made the traditional method of song writing difficult, therefore slowing down the process, that all changed when U.S. metal magazine Decibel asked ASPHYX to create a song for their flexi series. A track (Fittingly entitled “Deathibel”) was quickly created and the band convened at the Tonstudio Perle Am Rhein in Andernach to record it with engineer Jan Gensheimer. The weekend turned out to be one big jam session, with seven tracks written. After more songs were composed shortly after, ASPHYX was back in the studio, this time at Tom Meier Studio in Enschede. All eleven (plus two bonus cover tracks by Winter and Master) basic tracks for drums were recorded in two days, with the guitars and bass recorded afterwards at Paul Baayens’ The Mörserstudio and Martin rounding it out with Tom Meier again in Enschede to complete the process. Then, the session was put into the masterful hands of music mastermind Dan Swanö at Unisound Studio, who again created a heavy and intense sound ready to damage ears. At the same time, longtime ASPHYX artwork designer Axel Hermann created the suitable and self-explanatory visual concept for “Incoming Death”.
With the album title referring to the cry of entrenched soldiers when under severe artillery fire, “Incoming Death” promises to relentlessly bombard fans with monstrous death/doom done the ASPHYX way. "We knew we had a tough thing coming topping ‘Deathhammer’", Martin says. "But we did it, we f***king did it! Many bands will say their last album is their best, of course. But this ASPHYX one is absolutely outstanding. I'm bloody proud of the boys. It's definitely a 100% ASPHYX album, but there's much more to it. I think we are the only ones that can and are able to deliver a monster like this. And as always, if we like it, we know our fans will like it too".
And once experiencing ASPHYX on stage, you'll understand what “Incoming Death” means. If you live to tell that is...