There’s about ten bajillion bands in every major market that sound like New York’s ASRA, and none of them has a record half as potent as The Way of All Flesh. Getting your debut album mastered by the dude behind Pig Destroyer sure doesn’t hurt the cause. Neither does an ability to digest early Earache grind, the brutalest of death metal and stop-on-a-dime power violence wackiness, then pop out 22 minutes of straight cock-punchery.
ASRA (which stands for Alleged Satanic Ritual Abuse, natch) has a high screechy guy and a lower-pitched guy who sounds like a stalling engine, and you can almost make out the faint outlines of normal speech patterns every now and then. I’d prefer to believe that the vocals are just involuntary responses to the hellacious blasting underneath, anyway. Intelligibility matters not when you’ve got a killer death-grind band behind you to do the communicating. Drummer Andrew Hernandez sounds like he uses lead pipes for drumsticks. Guitarist Montgomery Hukill (that has to be his nom de grind) probably plays with brass knuckles.
Few signposts on The Way of All Flesh aid the hapless fan in distinguishing one song from the other, but that’s mostly because most every single riff is devastating in its own way. Picking a favorite is really a matter of aligning yerself with one subgenre or another among ASRA’s many areas of expertise. If you’re a grind enthusiast, “Burning Proletariat” might get your super-delegates; “Untitled” caters to ye olde sludge fanatics; and closing track “Enclosed Enemy” is the death-metal equivalent of a massage-parlor happy ending. Like Brutal Truth before them, ASRA slide across the extreme music spectrum with confidence and impressive control. Bonus: You can listen to The Way of All Flesh straight through three times in a row and it’ll only take an hour out of your day.