APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2012

As another great year for heavy music comes to a close, APESHIT takes a look back at our favorite pieces of music of 2012. This year had some great comebacks in CRYPTOPSY and STRIFE. There were also some nice surprises in the new sheer quality of the new SIX FEET UNDER and brutality of the new SOULFLY.

We want to thank all our readers, friends in the industry, and all the amazing artists, big and small, that we get a chance to work with for a great 10th year of existence. As the music industry as a whole continues to take an economic hit, let us all remember: If you like a band or one of their releases, support it!

Here’s hoping for a great 2013!

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ASPHYX – Deathhammer

Asphyx - DeathhammerASPHYX has been paying the death metal dues since the late 80′s, with their disciplined balance between relentless speed and slow, crawling riffs, creating a cauldron of searing, uncompromising metal. Deathhammer, the band’s eighth full-length, sees the band continue where their excellent comeback album Death the Brutal Way left off.

Openers “Into the Timewastes” and the title track strike hard and fast, setting the stage for the album. The intensity never lets up as much as it slows down, significantly on “Minefield,” where the band approaches almost funeral-doom levels. Despite the tempo drop, the aggression is maintained, and in some cases, is drawn out, milking every anguished riff for all it’s worth, not allowing even the riffs or the listener a chance to breathe.

The band picks things up, weaving in and out of songs that build, pound and crush, keeping the listener’s head moving, while tempering catchier material such as “Reign of the Brute” and “The Flood” with snail’s paced, lava flowing tracks, such as the aptly titled “We Doom You To Death” and “Der Landser”. Closing track, “As the Magma Mammoth Rises”, incorporates elements of both, perfectly summing up the album.

Deathhammer delivers top-notch, no-frills meat and potatoes death metal played with an honesty and conviction, which is something we should expect from these purveyors of death metal. Bow down to the Deathhammer. (Century Media Records)

New ASPHYX Album Cover Posted Online; Live Dates Scheduled

Dutch doom-death metal legends ASPHYX have now finished work on their 8th studio album, Deathhammer. Set to be released on February 27th, 2012 in Europe and February 28th, 2012 in North America via Century Media Records, Deathhammer features artwork by the band’s long-time partner in designs, Axel HermannIn regards to their newfound collaboration, both parties comment:

ASPHYX and Axel Hermann is a fusion that has always functioned perfectly…from the days of The Rack back in 1991, ’til Deathhammer in 2012. Like others such as Dan Swanö, Axel may be considered as an external member of the band and when we asked him to do the Deathhammer cover–and as usual we would leave him free in his expression–we were very pleased to hear he was willing to take it on.

“…And the man has exceeded himself! To the perfect death metal album comes the perfect cover that still leaves enough to everyone’s imagination. We hope he is as proud as we are on the final result. It seems all falls into place for this deathdozer of an album. I guess Axel can expect an offer from Le Louvre any time now.” – Martin van Drunen, ASPHYX

“A cover is the visual extension of an album that translates music and emotional intentions (or should I say aggression) into a clear statement of what to expect before taking the record off the shelf. In seldom cases you’re ending up with two perfect sides of the same coin. With ASPHYX and myself it has always and luckily been that case. And I am really proud of that! Show ‘em Death and hit them with a hammer…visually and musically! Guess, we flipped the coin once more!?” – Axel Hermann

Recorded at The Mörser Studio as well as at Harrow Studio with their long-time engineer Harry Wijering, Deathhammer was mixed and mastered in Sweden by Dan Swanö, who previously worked with the band on Death…The Brutal Way as well as on the Live Death Doom release.

Prior to the album’s release, ASPHYX will perform a very special concert at this year’s Eindhoven Metal Meeting on December 16th, at the Effenaar club in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, where the band will be playing The Rack album in its entirety for the 20th anniversary of its release. Additionally, ASPHYX have already been confirmed for the 2012 editions of the ExtremeFest, July 5th to 7th in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as the upcoming edition of the legendary Obscene Extreme Festival in Czech Republic on July 14th.

HAIL OF BULLETS – On Divine Winds

HAIL OF BULLETS showed tremendous potential with their debut album …Of Frost and War, and teased us next with the Warsaw Rising EP. Most bands show some drop off with their sophomore album, but no drop off is found with On Divine Winds, only catchy tunes and heavy riffs. Moving from the European Offensive to the Far East Asian war zones, the new album gives another heavy dosage of war and atrocities.

Gearing for war, “The Eve of Battle” is an appropriate intro that leads into “Operation Z” – the track about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Swedish “buzzsaw” guitar sound trademarked by bands like ENTOMBED, GRAVE, and DISMEMBER is emulated perfectly. The production is thick and clear, with the bass and guitar crunch sludgy enough to give the songs an extra push to damage some ear drums. Van Drunen’s distinct vocals are less John Tardy-ish this time around, and spew forth plenty of energy. The well placed vocal patterns and riff centered hooks are a great tandem to the basic but tight drumming. “The Mukden Incident” has BOLT THROWER-style riffs, but HAIL OF BULLETS executes with more precision and tightness than the UK legends in playing these riffs. Much of the formula for the band is having mid paced songs and aggressive and consistent double bass, as demonstrated in “Full Scale War” and “Guadalcanal.”

Towards the latter tracks, the lyrics focus on the Japanese and the result of World War II. “Unsung Heroes” is a dedication to all the prisoners of war that both survived and died at the hands of the Japanese army. “Tokyo Napalm Holocaust” is slow, constant, and heavy, much like the bombing that rained from the skies decades ago. “Kamikaze” is a full on, head first attack, much like the warriors that fought to the death for their country; being the ultimate patriots, sacrificing their young lives to destroy the enemy. Towards the end of the war with no choice but to surrender, the Japanese, as the closing track implies, “To Bear the Unbearable,” and shamefully surrender, promptly closes out this chapter of the HAIL OF BULLETS saga.

On Divine Winds shows the younger metal generation that death metal doesn’t need blast beats to be amazing, as there are zero blast beats found on this album. Heavy riffs with DISMEMBER/GRAVE guitar tones, an amazing vocalist, and solid drumming packs just as heavy a punch as an all out blast beat SUFFOCATION clone. The lyrical content for the album is intelligent and based on historical facts, so hopefully the listener can do some actual research on the events that took place, and appreciate On Divine Winds fully, both lyrically, and musically. (Metal Blade Records)

HAIL OF BULLETS Finish Recording for Second Studio Album

Dutch death metal masters HAIL OF BULLETS have finished the recordings for their long-anticipated second full-length to be released this October.

Comments drummer Ed Warby (GOREFEST): “I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard on anything in my entire life, but it sure has paid off! Although ‘Of Frost And War‘ is a tough act to follow, my ringing ears tell me we’ve succeeded in besting it on every level: songs, playing, production…at the moment Dan Swanö is putting the final touches on a mix that could squash a tank, and then it’s off to the pressing plant! All the main ingredients of our blood ‘n’ guts style death metal have remained intact and I honestly can’t imagine anyone that liked our previous work is going to be the least bit disappointed, on the contrary!”

The soon-to-be-titled album was produced by Ed Warby and like before, the mix was in the capable hands of Dan Swanö.

HAIL OF BULLETS
nailed down 11 songs plus intro.

More details on pre-orders, streaming MP3s, track listing, and the new artwork will be released shortly.

APESHIT’s Top Albums of 2009

It’s that time where we take a look back on the year as 2009 comes to a close. So we, the APESHIT goons, asked ourselves, what albums moved us, kicked our asses, and reminded us of why we love metal (and music)? Read on for our top albums of 2009…
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HAIL OF BULLETS – Of Frost and War

In an age where death metal seems to be defined by who the fastest, most technical band is, it’s cool to hear a group sit out the tech-shred olympics and focus on what really counts–writing catchy, heavy songs. Leave it to Martin Van Drunen (PESTILENCE, ASPHYX, BOLT THROWER) to show the new school punks how it’s done with his new heavy-as-a-tank band, HAIL OF BULLETS. Joining Martin in his onslaught is most of THANATOS handling the strings and GOREFEST‘s Ed Warby on drums. Ambitiously enough, the Dutch death squad’s debut, a 13-track crusher, Of Frost and War, is a concept album chronicling the Eastern front offensive between the Germans and Russians during World War II . “Before the Storm” sets the stage with ominous keys, setting a somber tone. But from “Ordered Eastward” through the final track “Berlin,” it’s all business. “Ordered Eastward” provides maximum buzzsaw riffage and drum pounding, before Van Drunen‘s unmistakable hoarse growls pierce the speakers. The song arrives at an absolutley crushing mid-section replete with powerful guitar harmonies and some guest vocal spice from Dan Swanö (EDGE OF SANITY, BLOODBATH). “The Lake Lagoda Massacre” and “General Winter” both counter with doom-beyond-death sludge before kicking in with an AUTOPSY vs. ASPHYX vs. MASSACRE battle of old school riffs. “Advancing once More” and “Nachthexen” meanwhile, unleash a firestorm of thunderous rhythms. “Insanity Commands” on the other hand alternates between an atmosphere of slow, impending doom and furious, headbanging groove. Of Frost and War is a rock-solid hammer of an album, devoid of nonsense and pointless noodling .It’s heavy, mean and ugly everything a real death metal record should be. (Metal Blade Records)