Wednesday 27 January 2021

A View From The Screen: Asphyx - Necroceros Album Launch (Live Stream Concert Review By Paul Hutchings)

Asphyx – Necroceros Album Launch. January 23rd, 2021

In usual times, the Dutch death metal legends would have been playing to a packed venue, crushing heads with tracks from their stunning new album Necroceros as part of a tour that would coincide with the album release. Alas, times aren’t what they should be and with little end in sight, the best we metal fans can expect these days is a live stream with the band playing to an (almost) empty venue.

Before the band hit the stage, those who had tuned in on time were treated to some hysterically funny clips from the band and those who work with the band, such as the engineer, the merchandise designer and production team. Hysterical, because everything was completely self-depreciating, the comedic negative comments including how the band’s presence in the studio meant a complete refurb when they left! It all added to a carefully thought out and produced 90 minutes, which didn’t stop entertaining from 1-90.

I’ve been fortunate enough to get acquainted with Necroceros over the past couple of months and had the privilege to interview vocalist Martin van Drunen before Christmas. For those who hadn’t heard the album, this was an explosive introduction.

On stage for over an hour at the Metropool venue in Eindhoven, Asphyx delivered a pulsating set that mixed many tracks from the new record with a smattering of older songs from the discography. Without any crowd, Asphyx fed off the energy each other created and within two songs it was only the silence at the end of each track that reminded you that there wasn’t an audience present.

As noted in the recent review of the album in these pages, Asphyx aren’t interested in breaking the beats per minute record. Instead, they have focused on what they do best; neck breaking death metal presented with a side serving of doom. And they provided it in spades. Anchored by the thunderous firepower of drummer Stefan ‘Husky’ Hüskens, the band simply levelled the venue. The Sole Cure Is Death, the bludgeoning In Blazing Oceans, Necroceros and the anti-cosmetic Botox Implosion all seared into the grey matter with a sizzle.

Bassist Alwin Zuur didn’t stop moving or head banging, his instrument linked tightly with Husky, whilst guitarist Paul Baayens shredded without pause. Alongside them, Van Drunen’s trademark and instantly recognisable low growling fits perfectly. Between songs there was modesty and humour, the band giving shout outs to their crew, the venue and of course, those who were tuning in. A vicious Death … The Brutal Way split the balance of new and old songs, and Asphyx did what they do … with style.

This is the new normal for music. I hate it and it’s clear that Asphyx do too. But at a time of darkness and with that light at the end of the tunnel moving further away rather than closer, putting full effort into a live stream is the only thing we can expect. With decent lighting, some flash pots and pyro, as well as a superb sound and good camera angles, this at least gave the band an outlet and for those of us still craving the live arena, a little bit of pleasure. I’m not giving it a rating – we don’t have a benchmark for this type of gig, but let’s just say that if I did it would be high.

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