Martin Van Drunen’s (Asphyx, Hail of Bullets) Top 5 Death Metal Songs

#5 – Sempiternal Deathreign – “Devastating Empire towards Humanity”
The Spooky Gloom (1988)

Sempi were the heaviest band at that time in the Netherlands. I still consider it as one of the best albums that ever came out of my own country. I luckily had the opportunity to see them live when we were doing a small metalfest in our hometown, and Frank, who was doing the vocals, was 15-years-old then. Judge for yourself. How can a kid of that age have such an incredible voice like that? This song is dark, doomy and very, very heavy. They split-up shortly after releasing the album, and I wonder where they would have been if they had continued then. A monster of a track!

#4 – Autopsy – “Ridden with Disease”
Critical Madness demo II (1988)

Well, what can I say? After Chris Reifert formed Autopsy, the band immediately gained their well-deserved status when they released their two demos and pleased us all with some fantastic albums that all real fans of death metal have in their collection. Chris’ voice is one of the best ever, and they play this real filthy kind of style that only Autopsy can play. I still prefer this demo of them, and “Ridden With Disease” is a sing-a-long for me every time I see them live—how stupid that may sound for a song like that. [Laughs] I’m glad they’re back. And when hearing this track, it always reminds me of back in the early days when we were touring together, played France, and Chris grunted ‘Ridden with French Cheese’ behind the drum-kit while performing. It was hilarious, and it shows that death metal and good laughs do fit very well together. Nowadays, so many bands take everything way too serious, and they bore the shit out of me.

#3 – Death Strike – “Pay to Die”
Fuckin’ Death demo (1985)

Paul Speckmann is one the godfathers of death metal, and one’s gotta give the man credit for that. “Pay to Die” is the absolute example of what tempo a heavy pumping death metal track should have. Back in the days, we called it the ‘Master beat’, as Master had more or less that as its trademark (and of course, Death Strike was the pre-Master band). This demo was a must-have back in those days. In Asphyx, we never go faster than this kind of pace. It’s part of the definition of death metal. The drums fit perfectly with the simple, almost punk-like riffings that keep on coming back—and that makes it such a classic track. If you don’t get the point of this one, don’t be bothered to try and call yourself death metal because you will never be. This has always been one of my faves. Of all time not just in this particular genre. I will put it on until I die.

#2 – Revolting – “Rise of the Revolter”
The Terror Threshold (2010)

Almost made it number one, until I thought about Messiah—and sorry for Revolting—but that was just a slight bit heavier. When hearing this one for the first time, I just couldn’t sit still, and I had to bang my head off—and that always still happens when I put it on, even at my age. [Laughs] So simple as it’s basically a one riffer, but so very aggressive and pure. Rogga breathes death metal. He was born with it. This makes me wanna grab my old bass and get on stage with the man, rip the strings off whilst playing with such high volume that people’s ears start to bleed. Oh yeah, it’s an instrumental too. Put it on damn loud and let your instinct guide you.

#1 – Messiah – “Total Maniac”
Powerthrash demo (1985)

This demo was re-released together with The Infernal Thrashing Demo in 2004, and after hearing that version of “Total Maniac”, it completely blew my head off. It was so bloody heavy, I couldn’t believe it. Messiah weren’t really a death metal band, but they combined several styles and were certainly pioneers of the genre. Tschoessi’s voice always was an inspiration for me personally. He had all the ranges, from deep low grunts to the high hysterical ones. Hard to find those nowadays. Together with the massive guitars, this is such a powerful and crushing track. It’s a slow song, but Messiah show that speed doesn’t say anything. A bone-grinder of a classic.

** I intended to put Bolt Thrower’s “Cenotaph” as #3, but as I was with them for a while, I decided that it wouldn’t be that objective. Other bands that came close were: Slaughter, Majesty, Corpse, Putrefaction, Nocturnus, Nihilist, Massacre, Master Winter, etc… This was really not easy, but to me, the top #5 that I came up with is the best after I sorted it all out. Never, ever ask me to do this again. [Laughs]

** Asphyx’s new album, Deathhammer, is out now on Century Media Records. Order it HERE. ‘Cause if you don’t Martin will personally stop by your house, apartment, or other living structure and force you to listen and headbang for 24 hours straight. Sound cool? No, sounds like hell.