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Asphyx – Last One On Earth

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Last Updated on 03:28 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

Well Asphyx even though are a genuine product of The Netherlands still have a unique sound that combines the best out of Scandinavian/European melodic approaching and the meat and potatoes simplistic mixture of rhythmic riffs and extremely ominous beat in the American way.

30 years ago the band released the brilliant studio album entitled “Last One On Earth” via Century Media Records in which this sound actually took a perfect shape that later the majority of Doom inspired Death metal bands based or heavily influenced their sound. In this certain release the Doom parts are riveting in their macabre glory and the repetitive almost ambient riffs that conquer their sound give emphatically a cyclic musical narration that even though left melody in a secondary role created a recurrent rhythm that drizzles your mind and place you in the gruesome atmosphere of a ritual process. The mid-tempo helps the eerie atmosphere to grow as the two or more in every track rhythmic riffs that are used with no parsimony are focused on blending in harmony in each every song driving the listener into paths of increasing gradually intensity.

Their sophomore LP was a huge step forward for the Dutch. Better production (producer/engineer Harry Wijering) helped their ideas not to be buried by awful sound, they added more fast parts and focused on writing better songs.

The band’s members performance is remarkable. Truth be told in an album in which the absence of solos is more than obvious when you recognise the guitar work as marvellous then someone (Eric Daniels) had done a more than tremendous job here. Full of distortion, simple but effective riffs that have a characteristic Swedish buzz saw tone.

The drum playing by original founding member Bob Bagchus, is minimal but strong with low drum snare hittings that when it’s needed leaves the mid tempo safe zone and either slow downs to give extra nightmare aura or fasten up to unveil ferocity as in ‘M.S. Bismarck’, ‘Incarnated Lust’ and ‘Food for the Ignorant’. Having variety makes the whole album in its entirety richer and the songs more interesting.

Speaking of variety we should mention the work on lyrics that deal with several issues as “M.S. Bismarck” is about a famous Nazi battleship, “The Krusher” is about destroying humanity for failing to have a in its modern way of life, the title track has a post apocalyptic theme about being the last human alive as the world’s ecosystem is collapsing and everything and everyone is actually dead, “Serenade in Lead” is about a vigilante that brings chaos around the world through terrorist acts and “Food for The Ignorant” is describing the struggle between two religions that actually look alike so much while the closer “Asphyx (Forgotten War)” is dealing about …war and ”The Incarnation of Lust’’ about…lust.

On the other hand the bass lines of firstly appeared here Ron Van Pol as a session (after the departure of Van Drunen, Van Pol sung on the following studio full length of the band entitled “Asphyx” in 1994) aren’t so audible as in their debut (by Van Drunen) but yet follow the plan and in the final mix adds a small dose of dynamic in the tight rock solid rhythm section. 

As for Martin van Drunen here has an excellent seminal performance. His growling and shrieking is emotional and fits like a glove to the gloomy vibes and full of mystery atmosphere of the music. Not to mention that Martin didn’t knew at the time that the other band members wanted the new bassist to record the vocal lines! Actually Van Drunen recorded his parts and left without see any of his band members in the studio, something definitely strange; thankfully the other two ones kept the recordings and offered us a unique, essential example of old school Death Metal.

“Last One On Earth” is one of their greatest moments in which hymns like the opener “M.S. Bismarck”, or “The Krusher”, certainly the title track, “Streams of Ancient Wisdom” (their old song that originally recorded for the single “Mutilating Process” and also from “Embrace the Death” album with Theo Loomans on vocals) and the damn duo closer “Asphyx (Forgotten War)” certainly shine for more than 3 decades.

Last but not least the front cover artwork which shows a zombie priest, with a huge cross on his neck in which Jesus is weeping… Sick and blasphemous!!!

Giorgos Tsekas
Giorgos Tsekas
"Κάποτε Όταν Θα ‘χουμε Καιρό... Θα Σκεφτούμε Πάνω Στις Ιδέες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Στοχαστών, Θα Θαυμάσουμε Τους Πίνακες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Ζωγράφων, Θα Γελάσουμε Με Όλους Τους Χωρατατζήδες, Θα Φλερτάρουμε Όλες Τις Γυναίκες, Θα Διδάξουμε Όλους Τους Ανθρώπους" Μπ. Μπρεχτ

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