Assassin // Breaking the Silence
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Tanks for the memories [HEAD ASPLODE! – AMG]
Label: SPV Records
Websites: assassin-online.de | myspace.com/assassinthrashmetal
Release Dates: EU: 2011.02.28 | US: 03.22.2011
It’s old folks week at the Angry Metal Guy offices. That’s because I, Steel Druhm, am officially old and I’ve been tossed assignments for Tankard, Jag Panzer and now, Assassin, the long running, though unproductive German thrash troupe. Along with the aforementioned Tankard, Assassin was part of the German wave of thrash that hit in the mid 80s. Also like Tankard, these guys were in the back of the pack, far behind luminaries like Sodom, Kreator and Destruction. Their 86′ debut The Upcoming Terror was solid, reminded me of a poor man’s version of Artillery (who were amazing on their first two albums by the way) and some even considered it a cult classic. Their 88′ follow up Interstellar Experience was actually less than stellar and passed without much fanfare. After that there was a long period of inactivity due to equipment theft and they didn’t resurface until 2005’s The Club which was uninspiring to say the least (flaming coyote poo to say the most). Now they’re back with album four, Breaking the Silence and a nifty looking cover featuring the return of those bad ass tanks from their debut. So, did these gents fare better than those booze-hounds in Tankard whose album I only just defiled via review? Has the worm turned for these stoic thrashers or was their reformation as unfortunate an idea as wasabi flavored gummy bears? All these questions and more shall be answered so read on intrepid metal fans.
Probably feeling the need to shake of any lingering effects from their last album, the title track comes out guns blazing and is a slamming old school 80’s thrash antique. Riff heavy, double barrelled thrash with an almost out of control frenzied feel which is indeed great to hear. To me, thrash should feel as if its about to spin out into chaos at any moment and this has that feel. From the title track on through the rest of Breaking the Silence, they never let the foot off the gas and its breakneck, ramming speed til the cows come home (to thrash). Vocalist Rob Gonnella stradles the line between typically hoarse thrash rasp and old school crossover punk shouting (think D.R.I.). Guitarists Micha and Scholli acquit themselves well with their traditional thrash riffing and frenetic soloing. Standouts include “Destroy the State,” “Kill or Be Killed” and “Strike Back.” All have that classic Germanic thrash vibe, aggression aplenty and at times even sound a little like At War (remember them? No?? Fuck, I’m old). All the songs are solid save for “novelty” closer “I Like Cola” which should have been left in whatever godforsaken urine soaked basement it was conceived in.
The production was helmed by old pro Harris Johns who handled their second album and also worked with Kreator, Sodom and Voivod. Needless to say, he understands the genre and it shows in the sound and tone which is close to the 80’s but incorporates modern touches without overdoing it. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, you ruin thrash by overproducing it. Raw is the only way to go and Mr. Johns apparently agrees. Necessary rawness aside, the drums are a tad too clicky sometimes.
Time and age are tricky mistresses. If this was the follow up to their debut and released in 87′, we might have remembered Assassin as true rivals to the big three of Germanic thrash. Sadly, by coming out in 2011, all it can be is a curious time capsule to a bygone era, producing some happy flashbacks in those of us who lived through it. At the end of the day, Assassin remains a second tier thrash act and while this is enjoyable and way better than Tankard’s new platter, it’s not quite a must hear. File this under nostalgia and I’ll see you at the next old folks day, if I’m not dead by then.