THRASH ‘TIL DEATH is a 50 week long set of features exploring the legends who crossed over between thrash and death metal between 1983-1993. The focus is primarily on under-served, unknown, and exemplar bands/releases. The selection is comprehensive but the numbering is not indicative of any type of rank or value: The order of band appearance is arbitrarily chosen. E-mail me if you want to suggest any relevant bands!
Formed between ex-members of Aurich, Lower Saxony area metal band TGT in 1987 the five year lifespan of German death/thrash metal band Assorted Heap came and went without ever fully taking off. A hit demo and shows with bands like Protector and Tankard would provide enough hype to warrant a couple of full-lengths along the way but as we’ve seen repeatedly with this feature the declining interest in classic thrash metal style by 1993 saw most all of the ‘second tier’ death/thrashers quickly falling off the grid. There is no major story here as to why they called it quits beyond some typical trouble with their label 1MF Records, who would leave behind small runs of similarly ‘hidden gem’ bands like Torchure, Blood and Sacrosanct when they folded. Their discography is thin and any side-projects from band members came later on so this’ll likely be the shortest entry to Thrash ‘Til Death yet with only three releases to consider. One rehearsal + live tape from 1990 are missing but it doesn’t appear to be an official release so you won’t find it here. On that same note Assorted Head likewise contributed a song to a Pling Records compilation ‘Massacre Time Volume 1’ but the song in question was taken directly from from the first demo. I’ve done my best to research as much as I can but please feel free to message me or leave a comment if I’ve left out anything vital or gotten something horribly wrong!
|Title [Type/Year]||Killing Peace [Demo/1988]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube [Playlist]|
This demo was recorded at Schlachthof Aurich (the studio name) across two days (28th and 29th) in March of 1988. Four hundred (400) copies were produced and it sold incredibly well, prompting signage with 1MF Records. The style is very typical loose composition from late 80’s thrash that’d been highly influenced by early Kreator and Slayer but couldn’t yet keep the pacing up to a high standard. There are elements of German speed metal, hardcore punk, and North American thrash with no particularly endearing traits. Their saving grace was that you could tell Assorted Heap were above-average songwriters. Though much of ‘Killing Peace’ is sunken by its fumbling rhythmic sense and sloppy lead guitar work some of the later tracks are far more memorable as they develop. The beauty of following this band from start to finish comes with the fact that no members ever left so you get to see them spring into action and become brutal death/thrashers very soon… Just definitely not on this demo tape.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Experience of Horror [Full-length/1990]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube|
There is a fair amount of light debate on whether or not Assorted Heap‘s 1990 debut constitutes old school death metal, death/thrash metal, or just ‘brutal’ thrash metal typical of the late 80’s. The myriad references to Dark Angel‘s second and third records alongside a heavy dose of ‘Extreme Aggression’ from Kreator made for a seemingly typical brutal thrash metal record but there are many surprises along the way with plenty of Sepultura influences popping up quickly and often. If you loved those late 80’s/early 90’s Turbo albums then this’ll be a stellar find from the coffers of German thrash metal. Why is ‘The Experience of Horror’ still worthy of mention today? Riffs. This is a guitar riff album, a maniacal salad of deadly death and thrash metal riffs that range from Bay Area influenced chunkers (“Sold Out Souls”) to French heavy classics (No Return, Loudblast debuts) and a heavy dose of early Pestilence all around.
A tour would follow the album and they’d get to play Denmark, the Netherlands, and France with three bands at the top of their game in 1991 between Atrocity (Germany), Paradise Lost, and Pestilence. The way forward would almost certainly be death metal from that point as that tour would seem to have broadened their palette for heavy music and given some high standards to live up to. ‘The Experience of Horror’ isn’t a mind shattering piece of thrash (or death metal) art but it is one of the coolest ‘riff’ albums from German thrash that is still easy to return to. From my own experience with this album the CD is not very expensive but bootlegs are definitely out there. The Vic Records reissue version is the one to get.
|Title [Type/Year]||Mindwaves [Full-length/1992]|
|Rating [4.25/5.0]||LISTEN on YouTube|
Here is the bands full transition into a death metal band but they’ve not lost any of their thrash metal attack. Consider it along the lines of Atrocity‘s first couple of albums but with hints of ‘South of Heaven’ throughout. Not only has their riff composition refined to an intellectual level but the dramatic atmosphere of ‘Mindwaves’ is just freakish as it plays (see: “What I Confess”) and it appears they’d taken something from each band they’d toured with that year previous and incorporated it into their musical personality. There are wailing harmonized guitar solos, gothic metal beats, and truly aggressive death metal moments (see: Mercyless‘ first album). I heavily preferred the first album to ‘Mindwaves’ for years until I’d been a bit more patient and gave Assorted Heap a chance as an oddball German death metal album. Yeah, its a fucked-up and occasionally cheesy listen but I’ll be damned if it isn’t satisfyingly intricate and generally varied.
After the release of this album Assorted Heap would tour with Edge of Sanity, who had recently released the equally strange ‘Unorthodox’. The band would forever blame their dissolution upon an unspecified issue with their record label and I’m going to assume it had to do with promised touring and the soon to come financial collapse of the label who largely dealt with niche and smaller German bands that were only really notable far in hindsight. ‘Mindwaves’ is so overdue for some appreciation despite the reissues it has gotten in smaller runs here and there, it was a death metal record far ahead of its time from a band that did not yet realize they were doing something well above average for the time. So if anything these two full-lengths will be an inspirational listen for folks who don’t yet know anything about this band. If you just want throat-shredding death/thrash riffing then absolutely jump into ‘The Experience of Horror’ but if you want a semi-progressive death-thrasher with some Loudblast-esque melodic riffs warming things over, definitely check out ‘Mindwaves’.
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