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Asphyx - Asphyx
Review: Asphyx push old school death metal -- funeral heavy metal mixed with raw hardcore riffing -- into thunderous music of charging chord progressions that possessed of an ambience that silhouettes melody as completion to grinding rhythm. With the riding rhythms and emphatic resolutions of epic battle music, the resulting orotund music expounds upon the death metal tradition of recombining fragmentary motifs in successive expansions of perspective.
On this album, an almost entirely new lineup (resurrecting a founding member on lead guitar) imitates the style of The Rack, but blurs the ragged edges and simplifies the riff salad to give the music an atmosphere in which each element has its place, resulting in a spacious but hard-hitting hypnotic immersion in the language of death metal. At the same time, the band play up the more theatrical, Celtic Frost-influenced parts of their music to make what sounds like a hybrid between Dead Can Dance and the first five years of death metal.
Echoing song structure, downturning riff avalanches rumble into entropy and dissipate as melodic riffs emerge to complement their direction with an ascendent greater context, producing a sense of clarity from decay and transcendence of destruction. Drums roll and flicker under bass doubling the surging, undulating riffs periodically cleated by seizure of rhythm in a full stop; then, inexorable like the flow of rivers or erosion of mountains, the pattern repeats until tension exhausts us, at which point an immanent melody slips out and dances over it before the flow resumes.
Riffs leap between tempos and reappear, guided by emotionally impassive vocals that announce a structural rather than colorful doom. Although Asphyx is basic, repetitive music, it is shaped from the aesthetic symbolism of phrase and rhythm, and so tells a story in the juxtaposition of seemingly radically different forms that, in the contrast of afterimage, briskly make sense and expand upon the previous meaning like a story in which each action leads to involvement in a larger plot through the architecture of its change.