Album Review: Assassin – The Upcoming Terror / Interstellar Experience


Album Review: Assassin - The Upcoming Terror / Interstellar Experience
Reviewed by Gareth Pugh

Most people will have heard of Germany’s finest Thrash exports: Kreator, Sodom, Destruction and Tankard, but there’s more to German thrash than the Teutonic big four, as they’re collectively known, and bands such as Protector, Death Row, Holy Moses and of course Assassin, also rose from the primordial pit, but without gaining the same amount of notoriety as their illustrious peers.

Assassin officially arrived on the scene with the release of their debut album ‘The Upcoming Terror’ in 1987, a brutal and inventive, if somewhat primitive album, the songs were made up from the band’s two demos, namely the ‘Holy Terror 1985’ demo, and the 1986 ‘The Saga of Nemesis’ demo. The songs had been tightened up though extensive live shows, and producer Kalle Trapp captured the energy of these live performances, with a rudimentary but perfunctory production. As for the songs, opener ‘Forbidden Reality’ is an absolute belter, the guitars build from an eerie intro before the song takes off with the full band, riffs fly left and right as the drums pound and the bass punches through, the pace varies from chugging gallop to full speed chops, the vocals are like a deranged combination of Destruction’s Schmier and Tankard’s Gerre.

The band sound at their best when going 100mph, as on the unhinged “Nemesis” and the appropriately titled “Speed of Light” as the shear energy keeps the songs momentum going. The cracks only start to show a little when the band slows down, as on “The Last Man”, and the self-titled track “Assassin” itself, where ambition outweighs the songwriting, it’s long and a bit of a mess and the slow parts are quite dull, it’s only when it speeds up that the full enjoyment returns, but in general this is a fine debut.

Album Review: Assassin – The Upcoming Terror / Interstellar Experience

Second album ‘Interstellar Experience’ is more varied than its predecessor, but thankfully the quality is about the same as the debut. The guitar sound is a bit chunkier, but the drums and bass are a bit more buried in the mix, and the vocals a bit too prominent, but on the whole, it’s a decent production. Song wise opener ‘Abstract War’ has some excellent substantial palm muted riffing, combined with faster bouts of mayhem, while the likes of "Resolution 588", "A Message to Survive" and "AGD" are all packed with frantic, yet calculated, guitar propelled thrash, and only the silly, joke like "Junk Food" and the cover of The Chantays "Pipeline” drop the quality slightly.

Overall, both albums are solid, enjoyable second tier German thrash, both are worth checking out for fans of ‘Pleasure to Kill’ or ‘Infernal Overkill’, although don’t expect that level of quality, or if you have a particular fascination with obscure 80’s Teutonic thrash, and from that point of view it’s great to have these long out of print albums back available.

Album Review: Assassin – The Upcoming Terror / Interstellar Experience

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