Original tape transfer, audio restoration and mastering by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in August 2020.
Hardcore thrashers insisting that Assassin´s two early demos were superior to the re-recordings of the very same songs that ended up on the band´s debut album The Upcoming Terror might have a point. When the first tape Holy Terror started to circulate at the beginning of 1986, it not only put Düsseldorf on the map of German extreme metal but was also an instant classic of Teutonic steel because the quintet married instinctive ferocity with an already impressive degree of musicality.
“Dinko and me wrote all of the songs during that era,” says guitarist Jürgen “Scholli” Scholz about the origins of these six tracks plus intro. “We were inspired by doing all the new hot and fast stuff that had been coming out for some years, but with our own twist. Although we liked Venom or Metallica – who made their best album with Ride the Lightning at around the same time – as well as Exciter, Motörhead and Tank, we aimed at finding an individual way, which was still possible back then.”
Still rough around the edges for all their palpable ambition, the tunes – the catchy title track, band anthem ‘Assassin’ and the surprisingly colourful instrumental ‘ Speed of Light’ amongst them – were recorded “in 1985 in our rehearsal space with just one microphone. We had been dabbling with a four-track recorder from our drummer´s cousin, but the result sounded way too soft, so we stuck to that very basic setup.”
Listening to this stuff now, it´s astounding just how well it has aged in comparison to the dilettantish initial steps of some of Assassin´s peers, most of which became significantly more popular. By re-issuing it in 2021 for the first time ever in due original form and not just as a bonus throwaway for some new album edition, Scholli and friends pay homage to an irretrievable era and spirit.
“I´ll never forget our first gig with Darkness in Essen, the hotbed of German metal in 1985,” he concludes. “The room still exists – now with a fancy mantelpiece whereas on that evening, the fumes exuded came from the sweating crowd!”
The audio was carefully restored and remastered by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony Studio in August 2020 from the original tape source; High Roller’s ultimate vinyl re-release is limited to 500 copies (200 white/black splatter, 150 black or transparent blood-red) and comes with inside-out printed sleeve plus inlay. Together with the second demo, it is also compiled on one CD as Holy Terror/ The Saga of Nemesis in a slipcase.
(High Roller Records)