A ways back we checked out Dark Asphyxia, an extreme metal band from Hertfordshire. Time has passed, but we haven’t forgotten the power of ‘gallows’, a thunderous blast of toxic death metal that promised great things from the band. Happily, Dark Asphyxia have made good on that early promise with ‘Executioner’, a six track EP (which includes the mighty ‘gallows’) that showcases just how damned good the underground can be.
Opening with ‘shot at dawn’, Dark Asphyxia waste no time in unleashing their obnoxious sound, and yet, just when it appears this is going to be a ferocious death metal ride, remorse-free and bloody as hell, the band introduce an element of melody that speaks volumes of the ambition that lies in their hearts. With Lewis Smith’s nimble runs on the fret board and Jack Allen’s vocals emerging from the very mouth of hell, Dark Asphyxia have crafted a malevolent and surprisingly well-produced effort that could easily go toe-to-toe with bigger bands on the scene. ‘Electric throne’ is no less impressive. Opening with a subdued riff, the song explodes into a carefully balanced mix of harrowing, blackened riffs and doom-laden growls that recall the earliest days of Paradise Lost shot through with a grasp of heavy metal groove that gives the track somewhat greater momentum than the icy blasts of that band’s formative years. A relatively short instrumental follows in the form of ‘last rites. It’s another example of the band’s ambition that they would place an instrumental segue track at the heart of a short, six track EP, but it helps to build anticipation for the mighty ‘gallows’, an epic track that introduces a subtle Iron Maiden influence before turning nasty as the band bring the death metal with dizzying ferocity. An EP highlight, ‘gallows’ is a bruising and belligerent death metal monster and clearly highlights the talent that Dark Asphyxia bring to bear. The title track, in contrast, ignores such subtleties in favour of beating the listener into a bloody pulp. Ferocious and raw, it pulls no punches. The EP ends with ‘condemned’, a doom-laden beast that lumbers towards its conclusion trading speed for sheer weight, the result being a track that rounds things out with a sense of foreboding that is far more memorable and effective than any speed contest would be.
This truly is a remarkable EP and the only shock here is that Dark Asphyxia have not already been snapped up by a label. The production is raw and yet perfectly clear, the musicianship of consistently high quality. Dark Asphyxia have done a good job, also, of starting to carve out their own identity and there is no doubt that future efforts will see the band emerge further as individuals. Drawing from doom, black and death metal, ‘Executioner’ is a varied and brutal EP that promises big things for the band and there is no question the passion that lies at the heart of Dark Asphyxia. A stunning debut, ‘Executioner’ is one hell of a ride.