Did anything else change with the band themselves?Ah, they did lose Gubbels...
That probably has a bit to do with why this album sucks. Without Wannes in the band, they only have one original member, Bob Bagchus (remember, van Drunen joined after
they'd been around for a while and written most of the songs that appeared on the first two albums).
Honestly, Death... the Brutal Way
was okay, but didn't impress me that much, especially compared to their old albums. Eric Daniels' guitar work had a lot to do with why those albums were awesome: dark riffs with a medieval torture atmosphere, enough melody to keep things musical and varied, but more than brutal enough to stand up to the other titans of the time, and of course, that unmistakably low-fi, buzzing hellstorm of a guitar tone. He also wrote pretty much all of the s/t album, and if I'm not mistaken, he had a pretty big hand in writing a lot of stuff on the first two albums as well.
It's for that reason that I haven't been paying too much attention to this newly formed facsimilie of old Asphyx. It's got some brutal vocals (van Drunen is undoubtedly my favorite death metal vocalist), and they hit all of the Asphyx trademarks (fast proto-black metal tremolo riffs running violently into epic slow stuff, great sense of groove, dark atmosphere), but that's about all they do: copy the best parts of The Rack
without doing too much else. It's better than Hail of Bullets, but not by much in my estimation. I've had a lot more fun listening to newer bands like Horrendous, Crypticus, Decrepitaph, Vallenfyre, Blaspherian, and Disma (the latter three also are based around older musicians reliving the glory of late '80s/early '90s death metal, but they make way
better music). I'd file new Asphyx in with the Vasaeleths and Deathevokations of the world: aesthetically pleasing, but pretty hollow when it comes to the actual meat
of old school songwriting.