Review by Ben for Asphyx - The Rack (1991)
I started listening to The Rack, expecting to be blown away by another great early 90s album. I have to say I've been left a bit underwhelmed. But before I get into that, I need to state that I find it hard to understand why this is being voted as death doom metal (for its primary genre) by so many fans. Yes, The Rack occasionally slows down and touches on atmospheric, slightly doomy sections. But for most of its running time, it's straight forward death metal all the way. It certainly doesn't resemble death doom metal bands like My Dying Bride or Saturnus in any way, shape of form. But I'll stop being pedantic about silly labels and move on.
There are a bunch of good riffs throughout The Rack, particularly on the 9-minute title track. I do find much enjoyment to be had within Vermin, Diabolical Existence and Evocation. When the band add small touches of melody, things start getting interesting. But there are also quite a few tracks that leave me feeling a bit empty. It doesn't help that I find Martin van Drunen's vocals to be fairly grating at times. I didn't completely enjoy his work on Pestilence either although it’s hard to put my finger on why. Then again, there are heaps of fans out there that think he's great, so I guess it's each to their own.
The Rack is a mildly entertaining album that has a few tracks of note. But when I compare it to other albums of this ilk from the early 90s, it doesn’t quite match up. In my opinion, this is not an essential album. A good album…but not essential.