marching towards the styx
Hello Bob, what's up in ASPHYX band?
We're currently busy with the Asphyx live / history dvd/cd which will be released in June this year and with recording a track for our upcoming split 7" with Finnish doom / death masters Hooded Menace.
You're a founding member of ASPHYX so you have best view into the band ... your creation dates back to the incredible year 1987. You belong to the oldest Death Metal legends in the world; it must be great feeling ... Do you remember the very beginnings? What time it was? Have you hoped to remain so long just then??
Yes, it does. 1987 was without a doubt the best year in underground death metal history for sure! Incredible! Oldest death metal legends in the world...??...it makes me feel OLD...damn.
I remember the very beginning of Asphyx in 1987; I was still at high school and wanted to make music like Slaughter, Messiah, Death, Hellhammer, Necrophagia etc. so I formed Asphyx with guitarist Tonny Brookhuis. I came up with the name Asphyx on a Thursday afternoon when doing homework for school (history that was...) and I was playing Dark Angel - Darkness Descends on my record player and I was looking into those lyrics (instead of making homework) and saw the word "Asphyxiation" in the title track, so I shortened it to "Asphyx" and there it was.
I never could have thought of being here today, still, although we broke up several times.
It taken five years until you have released your debut album "The Rack", meantime you have had only demos and singles ... You have sign a deal with Century Media, what is your actual view to your debut? I think it is one of the most cult recordings in Death Metal in general. Has it met all your expectations?
I'm still extremely proud of The Rack, although the production isn't the best. It was recorded on only 8 tracks in our rehearsal room, to become the Harrow studio, but that was still in progress. But we did the recording anyway. But The Rack is still one of the most raw and brutal sounding doom / death metal albums to date, so that's fine. It sold extremely good so it did live up to our expectations. I only wish the drum sound and the bass sound was better, but ah well... it was like it was and it was probably meant to be. It sounds brutal and that's what counts.
After the EP "Crush The Cenotaph" '92 the second album came still in the form of CD, LP, MC as it was normal. Even this album indicated you wonít leave your style so easy; slow, sinister, passages changing with fast ones.... Martinís unmistakable vocal became synonymous for ASPHYX ... This album has consolidated your position on the scene....
The Last One On Earth is still a benchmark for Asphyx. And, we will never change, of course. Also this album has a great production, but still is extremely brutal and heavy and raw.
They say third album is most difficult and greatest test for the band, in your case "Asphyx" album ... But there was a big change, you and Martin have not appeared on the album, what happened? How are you personally looking at this album?
No, Martin left Asphyx right after the Last One On Earth album and I decided to quit Asphyx in 1993. Martin had other goals at that time and the atmosphere wasn't that great anymore back then and for myself: I was totally fed up with the business side of things. I had lost control over my own band and that felt horrible. But Eric did a great job and with better vocals the Asphyx album would have been great!!
Follows the year '96 with 2CD "Embrace The Death" full of rare issues and new album "God Cries" ... I think most uncommon and maybe most experimental album in ASPHYX history. Why there was such big change in course? Was it a natural evolution of the band?
Well, for sure God Cries is the most controversial album in the Asphyx history. But it's still very brutal and dark, only the buzzin' guitar sound of Eric was lacking, unfortunally. But this time Theo (Loomans r.i.p.) did all the songwriting. But it still has great tracks on it like It Awaits or Died Yesterday. Also Slaughtered in Sodom is great, I think. In fact, it's now released on splatter vinyl. But again, it's brutal death metal but with another sound. We asked Eric to join at that time, but he had personal stuff to deal with then, so he couldn't do it, unfortunally.
After this album ASPHYX dissolves for a while. What was the main reason of breakdown?
I wasn't happy since there was no band feeling any longer and also Theo decided to make a chance.
At the beginning of the new millennium you have revived to create excellent album "On The Wings Of Inferno", I remember like it was yesterday ... I was fascinated by the sound of the bass drums, whole production is killing, I think you have again proved you are professional band. Are you happy with this album?
I'm very happy with this album. It was recorded in an old school building so it has a live kind of sound. The drums are sounding very good, very aggressive. But I think the production is lacking a bit of heaviness in general. But still, the album sounds good and raw.
ASPHYX broken up again for 7-8 years long, maybe no one believed sometimes you will get up from the ashes ... but then came message about reunion ... what happened this time?
Haha, not even we believed it would happen ever again. This time the organization of the Party San phoned me and asked me to reform Asphyx for the 2007 edition. Which, eventually, we did. But if they didn't phone us, the reunion wouldn't have happened.
After the EP "Death the Brutal Way", we finally got new album "Death ... The Brutal Way". Classic ASPHYX, orthodox, crushing, torturing, obscure ... I think you succeeded the comeback and fans received the novelty with enthusiasm. Can you feel you have now most rigid and solid line-up? Comeback of Martin have strengthen the wind in the sails...
Yes. Death...The Brutal Way has it all what it takes to be an Asphyx album. We are very, very happy with it. Paul came up with all the compositions so all credits should go to him for that. Martin and me arranged the songs in the rehearsal room and there it was....a new album! But speaking of line-up... we unfortunally had to replace Wannes. We now have Alwin as our new bass player and this time it's 100%.
Martin, Paul and myself are convinced of that. We were struggling with Wannes at some points so it was better to part ways and still be friends. That's the best option.
Of course, Martin belongs in Asphyx. He is awesome and has a "more value" sort of speak. But it's a unity now again, just like the good old days.
Your music has always had own face, feeling and atmosphere ... very original tuned guitars linked to the destructive Doom Metal, feelings of doom, torture, madness, death and darkness ... where do you go for inspiration for such a killing themes?
Now THAT is a great compliment!!! Cheers to that! The inspiration comes from the soul. True inspiration and dedication comes from within, the soul, the heart. It's in our blood. Can't really explain it.
Itís interesting you have always been faithful to your label Century Media, only few Death Metal bands proven to keep only one label throughout their period of existence. Havenít you been thinking about change? Do you have the best relations with Century Media?
We have a good solid relationship with Century Media. There is a respect both ways, which is important. We're not thinking of a change, I think it's like this: Century Media is our first and will be our last label...
How are you satisfied with sound of your drum kit on 'Death ... The Brutal Way " album? What is most important for you at drums sounding? What drum sounds do you like most? If I hear well, some timpani appear in the background in the slower passages, what is it?
I'm very satisfied of how my drumkit is sounding on Death...The Brutal Way. It's heavy and deep and sloppy, just the way I like it. It's very pounding. That's important for me...the pounding crushing feeling.
But there is no timpani on the album. Just basic drums. But I like simple and effective drumming the most. The kind of drumming you can tick your feet along with.
I must also mention your fantastic cover art for the new album ... how did you get to this artist? Has he drawn the picture to your needs, or you saw it and said that's what you want?
It's a great cover for sure. The artist, Mick Koopman, is a friend of the band. We just told him what we wanted; a wasteland (of terror) and he made the graphics for it. It turned out awesome!
Do you still listen to global underground death metal bands? Are there any ones that you like and you would like to mention? Which classic bands do you like most?
Yes, like Necros Christos. A great band! And Hooded Menace!!! And Deathevokation! For the classic bands (those I still listen to the most) it still is: Venom, Messiah (old), Necrophagia, Possessed, Slaughter, Necrovore, Incubus (Fl.), Obscurity, Sempiternal Deathreign, Grave, Nihilist, Autopsy, MalHavoc, Bathory, Majesty ,old Death, Massacre, Infernšl Majesty, old Sodom, Putrefaction, Hellhammer, Repulsion, Master / Deathstrike, Winter, Mutilated (Fr.), Carnage, Protector, Destruction, Exciter, old Metallica, old Slayer, old Sadus, old Voivod, old Accept, Celtic Frost, Treblinka / Tiamat (old), Darkthrone, Sadistik Exekution, Mephisto, Sarcofago, Morbid, Impostor, etc.etc.
Which summer festivals will you play this year? Havenít you been contacted by Martin Brzobohaty to take part in Brutal Assault Fest in Czech? It would be great to see you there!
Summerbreeze, Protzen O.A., In Flammen O.A., Metal Feast, Kalterbach o.a., Maryland Deathfest, Hellfest. I don't think Martin contacted us, but I don't know, to be honest. Would be great to play on Brutal Assault though!
Ok Bob, it would be all from me, many thanks for answering my questions. Itís my honor to do an interview with such a legend as ASPHYX, all the best for you!
Thank you for the interview! Great! Cheers to the Czech fans!!!
Bob 1. 3 .2010 Mortuary