First things first. Before we dive into your new album 'Deathhammer' we look back at your performance at the (practically) sold out Eindhoven Metal Meeting December 16th. You guys played everything from your debut 'The Rack'. How did it feel to play such an ancient setlist again?
It was okay .It did brought back memories of the tour we did in 1991 with Entombed, playing just songs from 'The Rack'. And since it was twenty years ago when that album got released the EMM was a good moment to play that album from start to finish. The response we got was good, although we suffered some sound problems, but ah, who gives a fuck. We, at least, had the chance to play our new track 'Deathhammer' at the end of the set anyway.
How about the crowd's reaction? Did you think they appreciated the old stuff just as much as more recent work?
The reaction was good, but I think it's a 50/50 kind of situation. There are crowds who like our recent work – 'Death The Brutal Way' - more than the old stuff. It depends where we have to play. For instance,if we play in Greece, Spain or Italy the crowd wants the old stuff like 'Rite Of Shades', 'Crush The Cenotaph', 'Pages in Blood' and stuff, but further up north people seem to dig the recent stuff more. That's a compliment, I think. We played 'Deathhammer' a several times now and the crowd was going crazy! They also call for songs as 'Black Hole Storm', 'Scorbutics' and 'DTBW', so for us that's a good sign. But I think we just always have to play songs such as 'Vermin', 'The Rack', 'Ms Bismarck', 'Wasteland of Terror' and 'Last One On Earth' nevertheless. But that's okay for us. They still are fun to play.
It wasn't of course the first time you played a part on Roman Hödl's Christmas party, for in 2007 Asphyx played at the Arnhem Metal Meeting. What do you think of this festival from a band's perspective as well as from a fan's perspective? (I came across Paul Baayens a few times and it seemed he was enjoying himself pretty much, running around the Effenaar hehe).
This is a great festival for sure and I hope that Roman will continue with it. There are always playing some great bands on this fest, this year we had God Dethroned, Sinister, Exodus, Destruction, Desaster, Nifelheim, Tryptikon, etc. There is a band for everybody, so to say. We, as a band, had a great time last year (2011), good bands and lots of Jägermeister. Also on the Metal Meeting you always seem to meet someone from the past. This last edition we met some Swedish guys who were at our Stockholm show in 1991,so that's cool. The Metal Meeting is worldwide known and contributes a lot to the extreme metal scene for sure.
Okay, over to the new album then. Recently a special promotional party was thrown for the press in which you played the complete album to give us a glimpse of what's to come. Now of course I can give my own description of all the tunes and what I think about them, but isn't much smarter you do it yourself? After all, you guys wrote this stuff and are way more suitable to explain what it's all about than poor old me….
Into The Timewastes
Musically this song sounds like: Straight forward typical Asphyx death metal. No-nonsense and brutal. This track has a nice bass-break in the middle, something we never did before. The song is a bit like 'Wasteland Of Terror'.
Lyrically it is about: A science fiction theme. It basically means the end of everything.
This tune made it to the album because: It's typical us and we like it.
Musically this song sounds like: A hammer hitting your head at full speed It's the title track and a very short one. Just a few riffs and that's all this song needs. This could be the shortest Asphyx track in history as well. Harsh death metal it is.
Lyrically it is about: A rage against all those so called death metal bands with their hyper technical übershit which has, in fact, NOTHING to do with the real essence of death metal at all. It seems like a contest of who can play the fastest, most technical drumbeats and riffs, some deep gutteral growls etc.... and they dare to call it death metal! Fuck it. When all that shit ends, you're left to wonder with "hey... what the fuck was that all about? Where's the song? Where's the good catchy riff?" What the hell am I listening to? Those dudes better listen to Hellhammer's 'Apocalyptic Raids' and learn what real death metal is. I know it's all a matter of taste, but please stop calling it death metal since they don't have a clue what it really means. We get comments by saying these things sometimes, but we don't care. People commenting on this are not death metal fans in the first place. They've just been in the scene for ten years or so and think Nile is the first death metal band. Death metal is in the soul... not in the mind.
This tune made it to the album because: It's true death metal, you bastards!
Musically this song sounds like: A doomdozer crushing the landscape and beyond. This is the slowest and most doomy track Asphyx ever did. It's as heavy as a Caterpillar Bulldozer. It has a real driven main riff which sticks in your head like a needle.
Lyrically it is about: Soldiers trapped in a minefield, not knowing which way to go. One thing is sure there...they all face their doom.
This tune made it to the album because: It's a 100% Asphyx doom track and combined all the slow elements from the past into a better song today.
Of Days When Blades Turned Blunt
Musically this song sounds like: Again to the point death metal with polka beat. Again a few riffs and a heavy doomy part in the middle where Martin laughs being the executioner.
Lyrically it is about: The mass decapitation in France back in the ages.
This tune made it to the album because: Well,it's in fact a jamsession from Paul and me. We were recording the drums in the Harrowstudio and Harry, the engineer, had a fifteen minute meeting with a client in-between the recordings. We just recorded 'Minefield' and I asked Paul if he had a fast riff. He came up with the main riff and ten minutes later this track was born. We both liked it a lot. So when Harry came back he asked "Okay, anything more to be recorded today?" and we said "Yes, we just made a new track". So we took it the same night to Martin's house and he also loved it and had an idea right away.
Musically this song sounds like: A dark, atmospheric epic doomy track yet again carried by a ultra heavy "weird" mainriff. Paul's riffing is amazing. The solo in the end part is awesome. It really tells the story of this song.
Lyrically it is about: A german soldier - Der Landser - who was betrayed by his superiors, his Führer. Send out to war and left to die.... but Der Landser returned home, bitter, lost and confused.
This tune made it to the album because: It's heavy in capital letters, the music is heavy and so are the lyrics. We also have a German version which will be released on a 7" this month.
Reign Of The Brute
Musically this song sounds like: Raw death metal with some old thrash elements.
Lyrically it is about: Global climate changes which brings forth a new breed of creatures.
This tune made it to the album because: It was the first one we wrote for this album and it a bit different from the rest as well. It's a raging track and although being the first one to be written, we still liked it in the end.
Musically this song sounds like: A flood. Mid-tempo catchy death metal with some old Venom/Necrophagia riffing.
Lyrically it is about: The big flood which happened here in Holland in the early 50's.It seems people forget that also Holland had it's fair share of a disaster.
This tune made it to the album because: We like it.
We Doom You To Death
Musically this song sounds like: mid tempo doom/death metal. This track appeared also on a split 7" with Finnish Hooded Menace. Catchy riffing and vocal lines.
Lyrically it is about: Again, against so called death and black metal bands who don't know the history at all. Guys dressed up as fags, thinking they're playing "brutal" evil music while in fact their stuff easily could be background music in The Efteling or any other fairytale amusement parks, with their faggy sounding keyboards. Music for Elves and trolls it is. Fuck off. Dressing up as "true" as they can just to camouflage their lack of history. Pretending they were "always" in the scene by showing their badges and albums/demo's recently bought at some market. On the other hand, those people know for themselves, deep inside, they're faking it all. They've never been in the magic year 1987....but that doesn't matter at all, but just don't pretend you were.
This tune made it to the album because: It also was featured on a 7",but that one was very limited.So we decided to record it again since this track also deserves to be on Deathhammer.
Musically this song sounds like: 100 hornets stinging you.
Lyrically it is about: The hornet Vespa Crabro. Those are quite brutal creatures when studied closely.
This tune made it to the album because: It's a good, solid up-tempo death metal tune. The second track we made after 'Reign Of The Brute'. It's again a short one. It's more of a live track.
As The Magma Mammoth Rises
Musically this song sounds like: The rise of epic death carried by repetition of one single riff.
Lyrically it is about: The big magma crater beneath the earth (Yellowstone Park for example) which lurks and waits to burst out dramatically.
This tune made it to the album because: It's quite different from the rest actually. Especially Martin and me are huge old Bathory fans and we always wanted something like 'Enter the Eternal Fire', or 'Blood, Fire, Death' and then Paul came up with this monstrous riff of 'Magma Mammoth'. Exactly what we wanted. So we started rehearsing and we loved what we got. This track may be too long to play live, but everybody who heard it so far really seem to like this track a lot. It's different than our usual songs, but still it's Asphyx.
The release of 'Deathhammer' is scheduled for February 27th, so the fans have to wait a while still before they can get their hands on some physical stuff. About that, in what formats will 'Deathhammer' be released? And will vinyl also be an option?
First Century Media will release a 7" which features 'Der Landser' in German and 'Reign Of The Brute'. The 'Deathhammer' itself will also be released on vinyl, luckily. The CD will have bonustracks as well. Our first release since the reunion, the 'Death The Brutal Way' 7" will also be released as a bonus as well as both limited 7's we did with Thanatos and Hooded Menace. That means our part of those releases, of course. With Thanatos we did a cover version of Majesty's 'Bestial Vomit'.
New albums often go with supporting tours, and I take ii this will also be the case with Asphyx. So what can we expect on the tour front? Any clubshows and/or festival dates confirmed yet?
We don't do tours. We only do single shows/festivals. But we do a three day roadtrip with Extremefest. But that's, of course, not a tour. The shows which are confirmed are Summerbreeze, Extremefest, Obscene Extreme and we're still working on the 10th of Februari here in Holland, Willemeen in Arnhem, with 11th Hour and Nailgun Massacre.
Alright, I've come to the end of this little questionnaire about Asphyx and the new album. Next month Lords Of Metal will dive deeper into the world of Asphyx when a colleague of mine will interrogate you guys further. For now we're done, so have a last shout to our readers, and feel free to shamelessly promote your new product.
Thanx, Horst, for the interview. It was much fun. We're looking forward to all comments we might get regarding some answers. 'Deathhammer' is for all who are true death metal fans, in case of doubt, stay the hell away from it! It's not for you.