Death...The Brutal Way

First off, I have to admit being puzzled as to why Century Media would not want to release one of the decades most eagerly anticipated reunion albums in the US (though its really Van Drunen reuniting with founding member drummer Rob Bagchus than a full reunion), leaving it up to the perfectly suited Ibex Moon Records to handle the US release, several months after the European release.

Still, here it is, a full 9 years after On the Wings of Inferno (which I never heard- God Cries was my last sour taste of Asphyx) and almost a full 20 years after the legendary 1991 album, The Rack, unarguably one of the top 20 death metal records of all time and Van Drunen’s Asphyx‘s defining moment. And of course, with Van Drunen plying his seminal throat ripping roar, which has kept warm in Hail of Bullets, and a burly guitar tone, the aptly titled Death …The Brutal Way, indeed imbues The Rack in every way.

And speaking of Hail of Bullets, before I get on with the review, my only gripe with Asphyx and Death… The Brutal Way (which I also mentioned in the review of Hail of Bullets‘ recent EP Warsaw Rising) is that with Van Drunen being in Hail of Bullets and their war based death metal, the fact remains the two acts are almost indistinguishable (even down to sharing the same artist, Mick Koopman, for the album art). For example tracks like “The Herald” and “Asphyx II (They Died As They Marched)”, a slow lumbering track, could easily been from Of Frost and War, as could many moments from both albums be completely interchangeable. But I guess that’s a good problem to have.

Still, I digress. “Scorbutics” kicks of the album much like “Vermin” did almost 20 years ago- a furious no holds barred death metal assault that lays the groundwork for the rest of the album, signaling that Bagchus and Van Drunen (joined this time by On the Wings of Inferno bassist Wannes Gubbels and newcomer guitarist Paul Baayens) are indeed back with a vengeance. Death …The Brutal Way is pure old school death metal, the way it was meant to be; Burly, surly, biting, nasty and full of sick grooves and songs about war, death, destruction and torture. Van Drunen is…well… Van Drunen and on top of his game with his vocal performance as his unique rasp delivers 10 no frills chuggers and rumblers like “Bloodswamp”, the fierce title track, “Black Hole Storm”, “Rifleman Redeemer” and oozing slow burning instrumental closer “The Saw, The Torture, The Pain”-All of which cull from The Rack in every way, but without being a total rehash. The only thing the album is lacking that truly special, genre defining track like “The Rack”, though the similar, moody opening strains of “Cape Horn” gives is a fair go.

The US release does come with a bonus DVD that has the band’s entire 2007 reunion show (which prompted a new album) from Party San Open Air Festival in Germany. It’s over an hour with 11 tracks that cull from The Rack and The Last One on Earth including “Vermin”, “Pages in Blood”, “The Sickening Dwell”, “The Krusher”, “M.S Bismark”, “Serenade in Lead” and ‘Asphyx (Forgotten War)” and of course “The Rack” (which still gives me goosebumps). It has decent sound quality (even if Van Drunen’s native tongue between song banter is still grating as hell) and the picture is a very high quality. There’s nothing else though- just the performance.

With Death… the Brutal Way, unlike Pestilence‘s recent comeback, Asphyx have returned as gloriously as Gorefest did on La Muerte, in that they have captured the sound and vibe of a classic and simply made it relevant and fresh 20 years later. Trends and fads may come and go but greatness will always be great.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 8th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Chris S.

    Fuckin awesome album!! Sometimes things are better when they don’t change. Asphyx can cut out everthing from “The Rack” and “Last One On Earth” because these 3 albums kill the rest. The DVD sounds really good, I played mine through a 5.1 system and it might make your neighbors piss themselves. Good review too.

  2. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    The new Asphyx is awesome! The new Pestilence on the other hand is a fucking shit platter.

  3. Commented by: Desperado

    Great album!I agree its a good problem to have,at least for a fan like me,cause I love Hail of Bullets as well,and more of what I love never bothered me.Nice review.

    I think the new Pestilence is alright,not the same as past albums but good.

  4. Commented by: Carlo Dela Cruz

    Monster album.

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