Asphyx - Deathhammer!

Intervju - 27.06.2012 - Skrevet av: Asgeir
Jeg fikk nylig snusen på Asphyx sitt nydelige album “Deathhammer” og fikk anskaffet albumet ganske så snarlig. Her er ett intervju som ble gjort I etterkant av slippen av skiva. Intervjuet er med Bob Bagchus. Hi there! There is just turned around four months since you guys in Asphyx released the mighty «Deathhammer» album. How has the response from the audience been?

Hello. Yes, time goes fast. The response has been really excellent. People seem to like it even more than Death...The Brutal Way, which is, of course, a good thing. We even got great reactions towards our song "Der Landser" from people whose grandfathers died in W.W. II or returned home after doing battle and felt being left alone. That really does mean something.

I found «Deathhammer» to be a fully satisfying album myself, but what is the general words from the media this far?

Thanks. The media response is really overwhelming. Deathhammer became several times album of the month and it even ended up in the German album charts. But, of course, we also got some lesser great reviews as well, but fortunately they were done by those nosy newbies who think that Dying Fetus was the first death metal band, so we cannot care less about that.

What is your favorite track on the «Deathhammer», and why?

Hmm, that's rather difficult since that depends on my mood. But to me "Minefield" or "Deathhammer" and "Der Landser" do stand out personally. I love the ultra heavy doom and drive in "Minefield" a lot and that is the most heavy track we ever did(although we have a new track almost ready which is even heavier),"Deathhammer" for having that incredible aggressive vibe to it and the catchy chorus, "Der Landser" for the epic and dark atmosphere and the incredible solo at the end. That song is a story on its own.

The title Deathhammer acctually first reminded me of a Norwegian band with the same name -but what does the title mean for the band? That also goes for the name Asphyx. Is this related to the movie from the late '70s?

Yeah, haha, we know them. Good band, though! But this is pure coincidental. Deathhammer to us means the book of true death metal. It's not that we are the mentors or something that is wrongly interpreted by some people who don't even know us, but just our view on true death metal. Especially Martin and me come from the 80's and we grew up with bands like Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Master, Deathstrike, Repulsion, Possessed, Slaughter, Necrophagia, Messiah, Necrovore, Mayhem us that was true Death Metal at its finest. Today the today those technical blast fritselfratsel bands mean they play death metal with a 1000 riffs in a song and also a 1000 tempo changes with prog/jazz/fusion influences, etc. Fuck that! Most of them don't even know the origin of death metal. We are fed up with those freaks so we thought there should be a manual book for real death metal. That's something we sometimes say to each other in the rehearsal room. Instead of the Witchhammer it should be called Deathhammer. It's a band internal thing really.

The name Asphyx has nothing to do with the 70's movie. I got the name from Dark Angel's-Darkness Descends, there was the word Asphyxiation and I shortened it to Asphyx. I showed it to Tonny (guitar back then) and he loved the name. So I made a blueprint of the logo ,raw lines, and Tonny perfectionized it.

The new album opens for a lot of touring throughout the summer. Any special good festivals or single concerts that would be worth visiting? I can see for an instance that you got a nice spot on the Obscene Extreme Festival... ?

No touring for us. Asphyx plays only at festivals or club shows. Well, the Summerbreeze or Obscene Extreme can be interesting, as well as the 3 Extremefests. But any other show is just as good. I mean, in club shows we play for at least 1.5 hour or more.2 hours are no exception for us.

Since there is a lot of new readers and listeners I just have to ask some of the more basic history as well. I hope you feel that is ok.

Of course. Asphyx was formed in 1987 by me, and Tonny. We started out trying to do covers of Death-Infernal Death, Mayhem, Necrolust, Venom-Nightmare and Celtic Frost-Nocturnal Fear.
At the end of 1988 begin 1989 we recorded the reh/demo "Enter the Domain".2 months after that we got a new vocalist/bass player in the name of Theo Loomans (RIP) and a 2nd guitarist Eric Daniels.
Right after that we recorded the "Crush the Cenotaph" demo. At the end of 1989 we recorded a 7" called "Mutilating Process" released on Gore Records by Slatko Dolic (RIP). Right after that Tonny left the band due to the famous musical differences. Like Venom once stated about Mantas "he was musical, we were different". The 3 of us, Theo, Eric and Bob recorded the "Embrace the Death" album in 1990 which was supposed to be released on CMFT Records in the UK who just also released Tiamat's-Sumerian Cry. But while we just finished the recordings we found out that the label-owner took off with all the money and couldn't be found anywhere. We still had to mix that album properly, but we told the studio-owner that we wanted the album to be put on cassette(Maxell XL II 90) with intro's and outro's and some effects and that we would listen to it at home and return later for the final mix. He agreed, gave us what we wanted but we, of course, never returned....we send that recording out to record companies in June 1990 and in July 1990 the 3 of us signed with Century Media Records. A few months after we signed we asked Martin van Drunen, who just had left Pestilence, to join Asphyx which he did since I knew Martin already for a long time and he loved our simple straight forward based doom/death metal. In January 1991 we recorded The Rack, did a tour with Entombed and after that we recorded the mini-album Crush the Cenotaph. In January and February 1992 we did a 2 month tour with Benediction and Bolt Thrower and after that one we recorded the 2nd official album Last One On Earth. Then we split up and in 1995 CM released Embrace the Death after all after I asked them to release it since people were asking for it. In 2000 we split up again after the release of On The Wings Of Inferno. In September 2006(Saturday at ca.15:00) the boss of the Party San Open Air phoned me and asked if I wanted to reform Asphyx once again for a special reunion show at the Party San. After a few calls we agreed and I phoned Martin and he was really excited about it. Eric turned down the opportunity so I decided not to continue as well. After 2 weeks Martin phoned me again and told me he had found the perfect replacement for Eric, namely Paul Baayens. At first I did not like that idea, but after a few weeks I phoned Martin and told him "why not? we can give it a try". Paul had told Martin in a bar that he wanted to be guitarist in Asphyx as well, so the guy was pretty sure. And he did a hell of a job! After the Party San we did some more shows and things went from there on again, more shows followed and suddenly Paul came up with excellent riffs! We did not want to do new album but his riffs were so damn good we started to write songs 2009 we recorded Death...the Brutal Way which was received excellent throughout the world of death metal. Before that, we did a 7"in 2008-Death...the Brutal Way-with a Celtic Frost cover. We did the release show of Death...the Brutal Way in the Turock in Essen/Germany which was sold out and the gig was filmed. That show was so awesome that we did a dvd of it, got some other footage and released it as a live cd/dvd album "Live Death Doom".2 more 7' s followed, one with Hooded Menace and one with Dutch thrashers Thanatos and now the new album Deathhammer is out.

Asphyx was formed in '87 and only in a few years the scene was starting move around doing some concerts. By this time I know you were touring with bands like Bolt Thrower and Entombed -and only to see THAT combination live would have been awesome. The things I like to know are - how many places and venues a tour actually took back then...?

That was great indeed. Both tours were excellent, great crowds, great atmosphere between the bands. Only big shadow on the Bolt Thrower/Benediction/Asphyx tour was the unfortunate death of roadie Spike during a car crash while going to Spain. That was dreadful and very sad. Well, with the tour with Entombed we had 11 places/venues and with the BT one we had like 20 or so.

Any good stories from the early tours -that was more or less groundbreaking at the time?

Well, not ground breaking, they packages were though, but more the "usual" stuff, I remember we and the guys from Entombed going into the city of Vienna after the shows and took therefore a taxi. We got very drunk at a place called U4 but we forgot where the touring car was and which street etc. The taxidriver didn't know the venue so we had to drive and drive through the city, we saw the venue and touring car by accident, but it did costs a lot of $ to get there at last.

What do you think have inspired the gore and deadly sounds all these years??

The movies from the past and being death metal ourselves. We are just being us.

I guess the profit was limited and everything was very slim -but looking back today I guess you got some good stories to tell your grandkids. How would the world have been without this aggressive, but still supreme masterpieces...?

Yes I have indeed. I tell my own kids some stories now, but they don't seem to be very interested, haha! Ah well...after all, like you said, the world wouldn't be the same without our beloved brutal music. I simply cannot imagine a world without death metal…being in a band or not, that doesn't matter, death metal will always be special.

There is one question (almost ashamed to ask) I always do -what is your favorite beer of all time in the Netherlands and worldwide?

In the Netherlands…hmmm…depends on how it "drops", really. I like Heineken quite a lot, but also the beer from our own area, Grolsch is awesome! "Beer" like Dommelsch should be forbidden right away! That's horsepiss 100%! From the foreign beer I like Warsteiner, Veltins, Carlsberg are my faves, or, especially Desperado!!! That is my number one!

Any last remarks to the reader -or some nice joints to visit while visiting Overrljssel this summer?

Ahh, you are familiar with Overijssel? That's funny. If you'll be visiting Overijssel, then Singraven in Denekamp is worth checking out and otherwise café Rocks in Enschede is great! To all of your readers, thanx for reading this interview and support! And hello to Anna from Oslo who arranged the Sodom/Asphyx show a couple of years back in Oslo.