It's a great thing to see and hear Martin Van Drunen in multiple bands lately. Aside from his excellent new Hail of Bullets, he has returned to front Asphyx, after 17 years of absence. Although I've always considered this band quite average in the face of peers like Pestilence, Creepmine and Sinister, the early recordings with Van Drunen were probably their best. As Death...the Brutal Way proves here, it was a wise decision to reunite with the man.
Yes, Death...the Brutal Way is a shitty title for an album, but it's the best Asphyx I have heard in a long time. I won't lie, there are many parallels to Hail of Bullets here, including Paul Baayens' brutal, simplistic approach to riffy devastation, but then, that's how Asphyx has always been. What I'm most glad for is that the band has largely relieved themselves of the bland death/doom style they were flaunting in the 90s. This album is fresh and aggressive, like the bright blood spilling out of a newly severed artery. The basic, go-for-the-throat mentality creates some good times in tracks like "The Herald", "Riflegun Redeemer" and the excellent "Black Hole Storm" which took me right back to Van Drunen's years in Pestilence. If you truly enjoyed the band's doomier days, they haven't abandoned you completely: "Cape Horn" is a pretty slow, desolate track that is also quite good.
This album sounds immense. The riffing might not be complex, but it is delivered with incredible power through the mix of the guitars. If you enjoy Hail of Bullets, it is only natural that you pick this album up, since there are so many parallels. Far from perfect, but it's the best Asphyx album in many years, and arguably the best I've ever heard from them, so for those of you who fancy their brutal, bombastic, basic death metal, it is sure to please.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]