Sometimes I wonder if perhaps The Bard, in all his wisdom, wasn’t pondering the nature of the chimerical beast that is death-thrash, when he posited the eternal existential quandary “to be, or not to be.” As a sub-genre, it’s practically unique in its representation of one sound’s evolution into another – the proverbial unwanted offspring left on the steps of the Abbey, Thalidomide and confused; a result of that one time you replaced blood with beer (thrash) and woke up next to a total swamp-donkey (death metal). Singapore probably isn’t the first country that springs to mind when considering the apex of ferocious heavy metal, but Assault‘s debut album, The Fallen Reich, is doing its very best to convince you of its worthy candidacy, by carving a thick slab of Gothenburg marbled death metal and thrashing the living hell out of it.

Now, I’m not usually inclined to include details of an album’s artwork, but if ever I’ve seen a cover illustration so aptly summarize its contents, it’s this one. Smoldering tanks emerging from the sockets and jaws of a decaying skull, flanked by combat knives… I could honestly just leave the review there. Fortunately, there is more than just the packaging to force the point. “Enslavement to Torture” introduces itself with some Forbidden styled crunch until Clarence Chong’s grizzled vocals invade the pitch – his mid-register delivery straddles the unholy union of genre’s comfortably, with enough intelligible venom to lay low a Cleopatra or Juliette ten times over. The final verses are reinforced by a guest spot from one Freddy Lim of Taiwanese titans Chthonic – the presence of his backing vocals on the track, and inclusion on the album in general, goes a long way in cementing the band’s potential.

Immediately noticeable are the assailing solos of lead guitarist Hanesh, who’s clearly packing more quality chops than your average (mad) butcher. His powerful input pervades each song, and combined with a riff style directly lifted from the Swedish melodic scene, elevates the material above that of the surprlus re-thrash acts, still plugging away at the same stale Exodus imitations. That’s not to say that there isn’t some classic influence in the rhythm section; “Genocidal Conspiracy” contains a bridge straight from the Kill ‘Em All cutting room floor, which makes for an interesting contrast with “Spawn of Rage,” whose shivering trem-picking and sporadic blastbeats, courtesy of drummer Noh who is certainly no slouch behind the kit, opts for a quintessential black metal design.

While, in the grand scheme of things, there isn’t anything particularly new being offered here, the compositions are water-tight and the delivery noticeably superior. The Fallen Reich is, however, only six tracks in length, and although the brevity does succeed in both highlighting the quality of the songs and delineating each track’s individual character, I’m a greedy bastard, and when I find that an album ends so fleetingly, I can’t help but yearn for what’s missing. And not in the “leave them wanting more” sense, either – I’m talking about the “woah – that’s not a full pint, top it up!” kind of bemused incredulity that goes hand in hand with being decidedly short-changed. The “what could have been” of it all is particularly frustrating, with diversity only hinted at in “Ghettos,” a slower, choppy number full of hammer-meets-nail palm mutes and another guest vocal by Fufu of Nothengal.

The brash production lends a rugged tone to the guitars, furnishing the inherent thrash of the title track and the At the Gates homage of “Final Solution” with a real legitimacy. However, aside from his one starring moment at the beginning of “Ghettos,” as with so many extreme releases today, it’s Syaz’s bass that is utterly enveloped by the mix. A habit, I’m becoming increasingly unimpressed with.

As if the name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, Assault have knowingly plucked The Fallen Reich‘s catalytic sound from the genre’s eternal state of flux, to deliver a professional sounding record of righteous riffs and vitriolic vocals. At no point does it reinvent the wheel, but  it does succeed in resolutely slashing it. With a little more to go on, this a band worthy of notice, and have already earned themselves a spot on my radar o’ metal. After all, we thrash, therefore we are – that’s all you really need to know. Now, good luck searching for that band name on the internet…

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity India
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 10th, 2017

Share →
  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Singaporeans continuing to prove that while their sonic produce might be harder and faster than hell itself, they have no grasp on how to look metal.

    Aggressive riffery might not be able to escape their fiery grasp but facial hair sure does.

    • Thatguy

      The Band Photometer struggled with this one. In the end not very interesting though.

      • Name’s Dalton

        I bought it. The album, not the photo.

        • [not a Dr]

          No photo in the album booklet?

  • Jason

    I don’t think the lyrics are the strongest, but I dig the sound.

  • basenjibrian

    Is it bad to make fun of a death metal singer named “Clarence”? “Clarence Chong” is an awesome death metal name!

    • defjam

      Chuck (Schuldiner) is not exactly a Death Metal singer’s name either

  • Drew Music

    I think I’m too taken by the more extreme end of black metal to lend my ears and attention to anything else these days. This is certainly far from bad, but I’m not exactly enthralled or even really compelled. #TrveWorldProblems
    While I’m here: what are everyone/anyone’s thoughts on Ulsect? I had been hoping for a tad more Dodecahedron influence in their balance of them and Textures, but so far I’m definitely digging it. I was lucky and snagged one of the last white vinyls, I hadn’t even been aware of the band til a week ago but just about all of their shit’s sold out for their debut album (which dropped a few minutes ago) so it seems I’m the one late to the party here. Either way, I have high hopes for their future, just curious as to what everyone else makes of it.

    • Name’s Dalton

      I think it balances the two fairly well. I listened to it again today. It’s powerful stuff.

      • Drew Music

        While I’d hoped for something slightly more chaotic, I definitely am digging it. No AotY, but strong work all the same.

  • lennymccall

    I was instantly hit with an air of Witchery on first listen. Gonna have to get this and really see if that proves true. Cause I dig the heck out of what I’ve heard so far (and Witchery obviously).

    • You wot m8?

      Witchery is the shit.

  • Brent Johnson

    Are these the guys I talk to when I have to troubleshoot? I always wonder when bands initially release so few songs if they have trouble writing music especially when what they release is quality? Here’s hoping.