Thursday, January 20, 2011

Assassin - Interstellar Experience (1988)

One of the better known of the second tier German thrash outfits, Assassin had a real opportunity to make or break themselves with the successor to The Upcoming Terror, and, well...they didn't really do either of these things. Interstellar Experience is a bit of a strange title, and when I first heard of it I figured the band might have chosen a science fiction concept for the sophomore, which might have been cool, since The Upcoming Terror had its futurist war theme going for it. Sadly, just one glance at the goblin/scarecrow thing wielding the band members in its green claw as if they were mocking the cover of Destruction's Eternal Devastation flushed all of my anticipation down the pooper, and the album itself is really a mess of clashing highs and lows.

It's the same band, with the exception of new drummer Frank Nellen replacing 'Psycho Danger', and for the most part, a similar vibe being created as on their debut, only more intense, and at times, more silly... "Junk Food" might have an idiotic premise, for example, but it's about as close as you can get to vintage, thrashing Tankard as possible, with some decent, pummeling riffs. "Baka", "A Message to Survive", "Resolution 588", "Abstract War" and "AGD" are all bristling with hectic, tactical guitar driven thrash, capable of excessive speed and power (ala Vendetta or Destruction), but ultimately they're lacking the standout note patterns the band desperately needed at this point in time, and the vocal hooks are rarely more than Robert Gonnella splattering like a horde of rodents against an automobile. The cover of The Chantays "Pipeline" is completely disposable, and I found it rather telling that the ominous, synthesized suffix to the instrumental title track was my favorite point on the a mix of the Blade Runner theme with some archaic Yanni album or the Mass Effect score.

Despite its shortcomings, I wouldn't judge Interstellar Experience as being particularly bad. There are moments of sincere, belligerent aggression that tear through over half the tracks, and the musicianship is a step forward from the debut. The production here is also an improvement, giving the album a keener edge that its predecessor. But Assassin have never been a band whose songs really stood out to me, not even through The Upcoming Terror, which was at best only a pretty good take on the 'Big Three' style. Aside from there being a cool spacey segment, and the goofiness of "Junk Food", there's just not much to latch on to here. I sometimes wish that the band had written albums that furthered the futuristic hints they made through the cover art and particular titles, but Interstellar Experience mostly deals in bad lyrics about political events of the 80s, or day to day issues, and that's clearly more of a letdown than the music, which was neither incompetent nor raising the star of these Germans.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]
(the cease fire is demanded)

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