Review by Stefan: Back in 1982 there was a band called Satanica who decided to change name into Assassin, to me one of the greatest German Thrash Metal acts with regards to the 80s scene. I have had the opportunity to be part of some of their explosive live performances here in Belgium, moments I will never forget really ! Alongside other German greats like Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Deathrow, Darkness, Violent Force and others, they made it to give us unforgettable, headbanging and booze fueled nights with inaccessible hangovers a couple of hours later on. Assassin’s first 2 albums “The Upcoming Terror” (1986) and “Interstellar Experience” (1988) were awesome products, actually milestones in the history of 80s Thrash Metal. Unfortunately and still without an unknown reason me, they split up and fell of the radar for at least 13 years. They have tried to join forces again in the early period of their absence but without success. Finally good and reassuring news from the Assassin camp came somewhere in 2002, they were reunited and recorded both albums “The Club” (2005) and “Breaking The Silence” (2011). Stating my honesty allows me to mention that I’m a total stranger to these. To face the actual comeback of the band myself, I had to wait until that special day the new album was ready for publication. That moment has finally arrived, I’d like to introduce you to Assassin’s latest output “Combat Cathedral”.
First things first, the current personnel has undergone a change, a few veterans remained, some others have left the ranks. The original guys are: Michael ‘Micha’ Hoffmann (guitars) and Jürgen ‘Scholli’ Shollz (guitars), since 2009 some new members teamed up by the names of: Joachim Kremer (Bass) and Björn ‘Burn’ Sondermann (drums). Original Assassin frontman Robert Gonnella also left the ranks in 2014 and was replaced by newcomer Ingo Bajonczak.
I couldn’t put away my curiosity on the new album and dropped the silver disc into the loader of my CD player, kicked in the play button and gave a firm twist the volume knob on my amp, without give a shit about my, all the time, complaining neighbor. Who does he think he is?!
Assassin’s new album “Combat Cathedral” contains twelve songs and has a roaring good sound, the dark cover artwork reflecting skulls and bones speaks to my imagination. The booklet has been filled with nice pictures, lyrics and all necessary info about the band and more. If you allow me to let speak my inner self, the new songs be able to tear everything to pieces. This is all about high speed velocity Thrash Metal, both old and current type of thrashing maniacs will have a good acquisition with the entire album. The new vocalist sounds like a mixture of Franky DSVD of Belgian based Channel Zero, Phil Anselmo during the “Vulgar Display Of Power”/”Far Beyond Driven” era and Testament’s Chuck Billy (“Low”, “Demonic”, “Dark Roots Of Earth” albums . I really do not dare a comparison with original singer Robert Gonnella, his replacer Ingo Bajonczak’s vocal timbre has a cruder/harsher, more brutal character that fully fits with the contemporary style of Assassin. Speaking for myself, I still prefer the older works of the band but that doesn’t mean that the new album leaves a negative impression, on the contrary.
The fire is immediately put to the wick with a song called ‘Back From the Dead’. Without compassion all registers be pulled open and devastating thrash rhythms forcing a deadly strike on your eardrums right from the start. You do not get a lot of room to recover, try to gasp for some air between the songs before another speed train is n his way. Let’s get thrashing at full force and speed with tracks like: ‘Undying Mortality’, ‘Servant Of Fear’ (let the quiet beginning not mislead you). Aggression and brutality meet each other during “Whoremonger”, a real Thrash Metal blast! After hearing a few songs I have to admit that the drum sections could have been more creative, more variety was welcome in my opinion. Assassin keeps on pounding the steel furiously and so the remaining songs on their new output resulting in highly explosive material with a large devastation’s content, particularly for the cervical spine area !
“Combat Cathedral” seems not to be able to blow me away completely, still I have to mention that the entire album shows what genuine Thrash Metal is all about. Under the slogan: “Speed Kills”, I’d like to recommend the effort to all those hooked on unadulterated/unbridled Thrash Metal whether your predilection for the classic or contemporary way. Additional info at: http://www.assassin-online.de/
My rating: 85/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)