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Assassin – Holy Terror / The Saga of Nemesis

assassin – holy terror / the saga of nemesis


Düsseldorf Thrashers Assassin, who released their debut album “The Upcoming Terror” on 1987, surely received heavy rotations for ages now, yet remained criminally unrecognized like many other  acts from that foundation era. But what was before that? Assassin, started their thrashing journey on 1986 by releasing two demos with a total of 12 tracks appeared before the mentioned debut, which are called “Holy Terror” and “The Saga of Nemesis” to this day and these two have now been restored and remastered (by Patrick W. Engel in the Temple of Disharmony Studio, August 2020) and will be released both together as CD and LPs in limited numbers and various jaw-dropping formats. Although their debut, gave them the establishment but it’s long been argued that these early demos were of a higher value than those that made it onto the band’s debut record “The Upcoming Terror”. And, if anyone listen’s to this demo’s now, they won’t disagree much. Not only by the inherent wild, uncontrolled, simply relentless sound and atmosphere of the early demo’s, but also the almost feral manner and uncompressing songwriting approach of these demo’s, will establish that argument. Despite the demo’s now received a modern treatment, but any listener will feel and wonder, how sweaty stinking raw it was in the early days, that’s is still trembling and how dirty it sounds, that can put digital records to the depth of insignificance.

So, it can be imagined, when these demo tapes came into circulation at the beginning of 1986, it not only placed them on the map of extreme German metal, but promptly became an archetypal of Teutonic thrash attack, because the combo combined innate ferocity with an already striking level of musicality. The songs of “Holy Terror” – the appealing title track, the band’s anthem “Assassin” and the surprisingly intriguing instrumental “Speed ​​of Light” – were recorded in 1985 in Assassin’s rehearsal room with a single microphone! Considering that “The Saga of Nemesis” came out in April 1986, about three months after their debut demo, the group had made a huge leap forward – not least in terms of production, which is the four songs plus makes the intro into an abrasive piece of Thrash from a time when the German scene was progressing at a breakneck pace. Although recorded in a utmost minimalistic way, but astonishingly on both tapes, the material sounds astonishingly potent, as they captured the uncanny fire blazed in the rehearsal room and it is very surprising how the two different version of “Holy Terror” and “Speed ​​Of Light” were developed in the course of just a few months. Isn’t it enticing to listen to the varied atmosphere and ferocity of those sessions and repeating many times to find out which version is the finest !

But also, the band anthem “Assassin” and “Forbidden Reality” have those ruthless sprit and piercing wit to be possessed enough. And, comes to mind, even with today’s technology, these raw pieces of the finest Thrash Metal are incomparable and not re-creatable. Then if you consider, “Religion”, which sounds like a nasty and filthy nod to Hellhammer, and aren’t they hammered the ‘Religion’ with the chainsaw guitar tone and visceral slides and bending of bass guitar! The animalistic vocal call forth the spirit and you will wonder, how it reeks of classicism and rebellious spirit! So is there to talk about, “Bullet” and further about the revered band anthem ‘Assassin’, which will come forth to make you pierced and enlightened. If ‘Bullet’ bears the blueprint of Assassin style thrash metal, then ‘Assassin’ proclaims their manifesto. The Sabbath coated bass lines and the darkness of the tonality, will send you the zones and thrust onward to face the merciless assassin to face ahead. At the end of each rotation, it’s inevitable to return, replay and remember these classics time to time.

But from there the history and time, was not kind to Assassin. In three years, after delivering four demos and two esteemed full-length albums, Assassin were no more. The band split-up in 1989. This decision was due to an disastrous event where the band’s equipment (instruments and other stuff) was stolen. With no money to buy new gear, the members decided to split-up ! Absurdity at its worst. But, as Philosopher Albert Camus said about absurdity – ‘The absurd has meaning only in so far as it is not agreed to’. So, despite absurd-fated, the Düsseldorf thrashers never surrender to it, and later make reuniting attempts – as a reasonable next step in the band’s evolution. They reformed in 2005 and released some dire records until more recently made a defiant come back with 2016’s “Combat Cathedral” and last year’s “Bestia Immundis”, in which they united with the sodomite force Frank Blackfire (Sodom). These latest releases shows the early roots of a band who have never quite gained a foothold in the upper echelons of thrash. But, undoubtedly, these two early demos now demonstrate their roots and certainly behold pieces of German Thrash history, that always practiced and preached the straight-for-the-throat, barbaric thrash metal since it’s development.

Assassin might still be one the most underrated German Thrash bands, in comparison to the renowned big fours (Sodom, Destruction, Tankard and Kreator). However, Assassin and other unsung contemporaries – Necronomicon, Exumer, Violent Force, Holy Moses, Deathrow, and Darkness, altogether deepen the foundations from beyond to spearhead the birth and progression of Teutonic Thrash Metal. So, they shall deserve the admirations, recognition and glory no less than the big forces. In 2021, Assassin can look back on almost 40 years of history, and rejoice that together. And, these five Thrash Metal maniacs recorded the first demos “Holy Terror” and “The Saga Of Nemesis”, which are now, a proud 35 years strong, being re-released by esteemed High Roller Records and brought back the spirit of the scene back to life. Whether newly exposed one or a veteran follower, you can now looks again into that history and follow Assassin in a different spectrum. (Rocky Ghosh)


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