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ASPHYX - The Rack cover
3.75 | 14 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1991

Filed under Death Metal


1. The Quest of Absurdity (1:20)
2. Vermin (4:02)
3. Diabolical Existence (3:55)
4. Evocation (5:32)
5. Wasteland of Terror (2:16)
6. The Sickening Dwell (4:15)
7. Ode to a Nameless Grave (2:55)
8. Pages in Blood (4:08)
9. Asphyx / The Rack (9:05)

Total Time: 37:32


- Martin Van Drunen / vocals, bass
- Eric Daniels / guitar
- Bob Bagchus / drums

About this release

Full-length, Century Media, April 13th, 1991

Reissued in 2006 by Century Media with bonus tracks taken from a 1991 live
performance in Holland:
10. The Quest of Absurdity [0:30]
11. Vermin [3:45]
12. Evocation [4:56]
13. Diabolical Existence [3:21]
14. Ode to a Nameless Grave [2:26]
15. The Sickening Dwell [3:49]
16. Wasteland of Terror [2:31]
17. Pages in Blood [4:05]
18. The Rack [8:17]
19. Rite of Shades [3:51]
20. Crush the Cenotaph [4:13]

Thanks to UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"The Rack" is the debut full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Asphyx. The album was released through Century Media Records in April 1991. After leaving Pestilence, bassist/vocalist Martin Van Drunen teamed up with guitarist Eric Daniels and drummer Bob Bagchus to form Asphyx. Apparently Martin Van Drunen didn´t agree with the rest of the guys in Pestilence about the more sophisticated death metal sound that they wanted to pursue as his interest was in filthy old school death metal.

...Asphyx more than fits that description and in fact "The Rack" is probably one of the most filthy and brutal old school death metal albums out there. Martin Van Drunen has a rather distinct vocal style. A kind of desperate sounding growl/howl and he pushes his voice to the full on this album and sometimes even beyond what I find pleasant to listen to. So beware that the vocals on "The Rack" might be an aquired taste. Asphyx play a filthy doomy death metal style with an organic and authentic almost sloppy touch. There are some crushingly brutal doomy riffs on the album, but the band play both mid- and faster paced parts too. A track like "The Sickening Dwell" has always stood out to me, but the album is generally consistent in quality. But that also means that the album doesn´t feature many highlight nor many lows.

The sound production is noisy, distorted and at times almost unbearable to my ears. Filthy, filthy stuff.

"The Rack" is a classic old school death metal album from the golden year of death metal 1991. It´s not a personal favorite of mine, mainly because of the extreme vocal delivery and the equally extreme production values (I´m simply not butch enough to enjoy this album all the way through), but it´s an original and distinct sounding death metal release and deserves recognition for that. a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.
The Angry Scotsman
My younger brother showed me this band, calling them a doom/death metal band. I was intrigued. Love death metal, but doom I have to be in the mood for. Well, I must say...the combo on this album is superb! I hate to be a genre stickler, but I really do consider this a doom/death metal album. The blend of both is just awesome.

On this album you will hear it all from droning chords and brutally slow drumming to manic tremolo picking and off the wall riffing. Sometimes it shifts from one to the other like a light switch, sometimes it builds. The progression is often done quite well, not too long, but not too quick either. Slow, crushing and heavy for the right amount of time, then to a more midpaced riffy section, then into blistering death metal. Sometimes it is abrupt, sometimes there is a build.

That is part of this albums greatness. It keeps you guessing. You never exactly when, or what, is coming. The album is also brilliantly composed. The doom never goes on for so long it gets boring, the truly death metal sections are never too long either, and their is some great mid paced parts for the complete package.

The music is also quite good. The doom can be anything from long drones, to slow riffs. Honestly, it doesn't matter what part of the song. The riffs will be awesome. The vocals are reminiscent of old death. If you don't know I'd describe it as a "wet" sounding growl. Not a deep death growl but a more natural, throaty, screamy type growl. It can be a bit tough, but I like it. Also, very fitting for the music. Sounds less like cookie monster and more like a suffering human being.

Great album. Perfect blend of doom and death metal and the songs are structured well. Great riffing and guitar work, including solos.

Four Stars

Members reviews

If only asphyxiation were as enjoyable as this album, then more people might be found dead in ‘The Quest of Absurdity’. This quest is how the album begins; reaching, searching, out into space, abstractions of thought, almost ethereal in delivery. A false façade of what is to come! What a thrashing we are about receive!

Let us hearken back the early nineties. Death Metal was still raw and in its prime. If one were to poke and prod at the nooks and crannies of the underground, unique entities would topple forth into unsuspecting ears. It was in this era that Asphyx stepped up to the plate to grace our pretty little ears with their tempestuous debut that would mark the beginning and end of my interest in the band. It is not unusual for someone with my tastes to take this stance, to cherry pick then spit contemptuously on the rest. As mentioned above ‘The Rack’ kicks off the procession with an instrumental interlude, formless and drifting. You are now ensconced in your armchair, gripping the wings lightly, knowing quiet well this is the calm before the storm. How do you know this? You were recommended this as brethren to Autopsy. They were not wrong in their parity between sounds, tho’ mark my word; this is no reflection in the spiegelsaal.

Racks, in the decrepit realm of Death Metal remind me of torture, and this might just work perfectly as a metaphor to describe Asphyx’s sound: “A form lies face down on the rack, male or female, we do not know, lets not make preferences, they are beautiful nevertheless in their own macabre way. Tensing, thrashes rein down on this ‘Vermin’, harsh and raw, riddled with old death. They mused upon their ‘diabolical existence’, the nightly orgies of thrash, death and doom. Sometimes it was a combination of thrash and death, then death and doom, then thrash, death and doom all at once, it mattered little now in this ‘Wasteland of Terror’. Encapsulated in this terror an ‘Ode to a Nameless Grave’ rang loudly in their ears. Grave nameless no longer, the prophecy was writ, ‘Pages in Blood’, on their welt strewn back. Oh, if those woes were not enough, the highlight, the epic, is yet to come. They always save the best till last. We are only 27 odd minutes in but still fresh in the minds eye is a limp bloodied mess. I squint, wondering to myself ‘was it ever human’? I wonder what they are thinking, nothing probably. What is there to think in such a state? When it is nigh on impossible to conjure up those rasping breaths out of withered lungs. They say ‘The Rack’ is a place where ‘The Sickening Dwell’, truth be told. The epic, very well, I warn it is ‘Asphyx(iation)’ at its worst (best?). Lids flicker with distress, they know what’s coming: suffocation. A blackness veiling their face, the material coarse, irregularities formed in its surface by others trying to gnash away the end with their teeth. They revolt, but the end is always the same, silence, it matters not.”

…The Rack…

Lovely cover, if I might say so. The LP is a sight for sore eyes.

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