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Grand Supreme Blood Court - Bow Down Before the Blood Court (Century Media Records)

By: Mike Sloan

[8/10] Whenever a pioneer of sorts within metal goes into exile for whatever reason, itís always with trepidation when one listens to his or her comeback album. Sometimes it works well (Atheist, Joey Belladonna in Anthrax, Lord Worm in Cryptopsy, Alex Skolnick in Testament) and sometimes itís a disaster (Nuclear Assault, Suicidal Tendencies, Dissection, David Vincent in Morbid Angel).

For Eric Daniels, itís a raging success.

Granted, Danielsí first collection of new material after a nine-year absence isnít in the form of the mighty Asphyx, but after jamming to new band Grand Supreme Blood Court and debut album Bow Down Before the Blood Court, it might as well be. With that said, anybody who fancies himself an Asphyx devotee like yours truly will be pleased after destroying his ear drums to this beast.

Bow Down Before the Blood Court is nothing original, nothing unique whatsoever, but that means very little in these eyes. Danielsí signature style was all over the classic Asphyx albums and like fellow axemen Trey Azagthoth and Kerry King/Jeff Hanneman, Daniels has a sound and style all his own. Yes, the newest gem from Asphyx Deathhammer just reeks of the classic Asphyx sound, but Daniels is the key guy who essentially created said sound in the first place.

BDBTBC is a slower, crawling, evil little bastard of old school death metal: great riff structures, voracious vocals, simple-yet-memorable arrangements, no reliance on gimmicks or being overly technical. Itís essentially vintage Asphyx in a new package with a new name and that is exactly what this should be.

Grand Supreme Blood Court boast in their press releases that they have geared more towards a Necrovore/Funeral Bitch/Slaughter sound and delivery (which is accurate), but itís hard to argue that the band and BDBTBC is not an Asphyx album under a nickname. After all, Martin Van Drunen is the vocalist, Alwin Zuur slings the axe and Bob Bagchus tears up the skins on the album; all three are the current driving force behind Asphyx.

In the end, it doesnít matter because Grand Supreme Blood Court hit the ball out of the park with their debut. The production is superb in that the guitars have that classic crunch to them and Van Drunenís vocals are impeccable as always. Whether itís album highlight ďBehead the DefenceĒ or other killer tracks like ďCircus of Mass Torment,Ē album opener ďAll Rise!Ē or the awesome title track, these Dutch veterans have culminated in a surprise release that absolutely shreds.

People might argue that Daniels should just have re-joined Asphyx, a band he basically helped create, rather than toying with a new band comprised of Van Drunen and Bagchus, two guys who were also there from the beginning (well, at least with their glorious The Rack debut). We say to that: who cares? If Daniels stays out of Asphyx and continues to create albums as great as BDBTBC all the while the rest of Asphyx continue to create albums as elite as Deathhammer, whatís the difference? The world basically got two killer Asphyx albums in one year. Letís hope this trend continues because everybody wins in the end, save for maybe our ear drumsÖ

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