(SPV / Steamhammer)
“Back From The Dead” is an appropriate title for the first song off of the new Assassin album. It’s been just about five years since the band released anything of note. Breaking The Silence was an unfocused onslaught, and I think there were some huge lessons to learn as the band suffered the fall out of that album. Unfortunately there are still some problems that haven’t been worked out yet on this new release.
Assassin have the misfortune of living in their own shadow, and it is a big terrifying shadow in the halls of old school thrash legends. The Upcoming Terror is often regarded as a masterpiece and a gem among old school German thrash metal albums, but it is thirty years old now, so it’s time for the remains of this cult legendary outfit to show they’re still in tank 410. For those not in on the reference, check the album cover of their debut. Crushing over everything in their way is what Assassin tries to do on Combat Cathedral, and they hold nothing back when glorifying the old days as they push through. Unfortunately Assassin running on the fuel that they are Assassin isn’t going to raise my eyebrows when bands like Nervosa are out there tearing their way through everything in sight, so these old timers have to really show that they still have something to prove. So do they? They are keeping up, yes, but I don’t think they’re slaughtering fields of elder gods here.
The heaviness on this album can be fucking clutch from time to time, but it can also be really overbearing in a sense that it takes away from the quality of their music. It’s just a wall of distortion and sound that is so fucking thick that it unfortunately robs from the fact that the guitarists Scholi and Micha are really skilled guitar players. Also what is up with these drums? I mean the drummer is great, but who decided to make Burn sound like he is dribbling a basketball over a trash can lid for an hour?
Assassin are killer. Their music is groovy as fuck. Interstellar Experience and The Upcoming Terror are fantastic albums that shall never be robbed of their glory, and Interstellar Experience especially showed that this band is just out of this world. This band was giving Kreator a run for their money in 1988. What happened? I want to hear a new Assassin album that sounds like someone cares about this band, but the production and songwriting on Combat Cathedral sucks the life out of my hopes and expectations. There are times when it is really good, like on the intro to “Serpent of Fear,” it’s just perfect – but then it goes off of a cliff less than two minutes into the song. On another note, classic vocalist Robert Gonella is gone, and Ingo Bajonczak isn’t really shining too brightly here. Okay he’s not shining at all. It’s not his fault either. He’s just stuck in this really dry cardboard cutout of that really cool speed metal band Assassin. You know it’s a nice cardboard cut out, but it’s not really necessary, and you don’t have to take it with you anywhere. 410 is still running, but she’s not running at the “Speed Of Light” anymore. (Nicholas Pendergast)