Review: Asphyx “On the Wings of Inferno” [Century Media Records]

Review: Asphyx “On the Wings of Inferno” [Century Media Records]

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Score 85%
Without excess
85 %
User Rating : 4.8 (1 votes)

On the Wings of Inferno remains one of those unexpected albums that’s more impressive than you would imagine. Think about it; the year is 2000 (not exactly a hot year for doom/death metal), Martin van Drunen had left the band many years prior and Asphyx have always been an inconsistent band. If fans had lost faith in this band at this point, I wouldn’t blame them.

So, it’s easy to see why On the Wings of Inferno is overlooked, but fear not; it’s extremely well-written and the performances are downright note-worthy. New vocalist Wannes Gubbels is no van Drunen, but you couldn’t tell based on his razor sharp voice. I wish I was kidding; but the agonizing howls sound extremely identical that it’s not even funny (although certainly amusing). Unfortunately, this would be Eric Daniels’ last stand; but he’s surely delivering a worthy swansong. As usual, his riffs sound extremely simplistic, yet barbaric; bringing to mind Hellhammer / Celtic Frost during the slowest bits, as well as Obituary once the riffs spew out disgust in a proper death metal fashion.

Indeed, there’s no way that I could imagine any other band writing On the Wings of Inferno, but that’s not to say that it’s a clear copy of the Asphyx’s past few records. The production sounds louder and cleaner than that of The Rack and Last One on Earth and while I do miss the flame thrower guitar tones that made those records sound surreal, On the Wings of Inferno at least refrains from sounding too loud for its own good (a thing that would plague the band’s later records, I’m afraid). Guitars appear with precision; causing each riff to sound undeniably present, whereas drums go off with a bang in the background. It also helps that Wannes Gubbels’ vocals fit in the right spot; considering his overpowering delivery, it’s smart not to have the vocals overpowering everything else.

Best of all, Asphyx simply don’t beat around the bush with their songs. They simply sound determined to give you one hell of a good time; with no excessive sections of any sorts or overlong nonsense in mind. Like a hot driving force, ‘Summoning the Storm’ brings to mind a gruesome marriage of early Celtic Frost and familiar death metal that by 2000 seemed like a thing of the past, yet it’s clear that Asphyx‘s only educational background is the old school of death. ‘The Scent of Obscurity’ is a hell house of noisy leads that scream out in fright, while Wannes Gubbels howls between the Eric Daniels’ trademark riffs as if Martin van Drunen had never left. Even the groaning doom sections work extremely well; not only because they’re incorporated properly, but also due to the tune’s short duration; something that certainly works in Asphyx‘s favor.

Explore this abyss further and you’ll rarely be in for any unpleasant surprises. ‘For They Ascend’ picks up with some lighter rhythm that you might have heard on Soulburn’s Feeding on Angels, but turns into a Hellhammer / Celtic Frost-driven assault soon after. It’s yet another effective, if short cut, but I’d be lying if this wouldn’t satisfy my senses. ‘Waves of Fire’ continues in frenzied mania; this savage assault of thrashing death metal conjures the image of a diabolic march again anything divine. Returning to its familiar state of making one feel doomed to death, ‘Indulge in Frenzy’ follows suite with the band’s usual formula, although I should admit that its hard knocking at the two minutes mark is among my favorite Asphyx riffs; it’s full of tension and makes a pleasant surprise in between the chunkier and speedier bits.

On the Wings of Inferno might be short, but this twenty nine record gets more done than certain albums that are twice its length. While a few annoyances appear in between; ’06.06.2006’ is a quiet interlude of no musical value whatsoever and ‘March Towards the Styx’ isn’t the atmospheric closer that I had hoped for, the songs in between remain superb. Moral of today: sometimes less is more and Asphyx certainly prove so in this case. If you’re familiar with this band, but haven’t heard this album yet, you’ve got a job to do.

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