Waaaay back in the day Venom’s various international jaunts were marked with the release of a limited edition EP to mark the occasion. There were 6 of these in total, and every venom fan made it their job to get the whole set back in the Vinyl days.. even if it meant shelling out vast sums of money on Japanese imports.
Between 1985 and 1987 these releases collected studio material, mostly lifted from the albums, along with previously unreleased live tracks of what, with the benefit of hindsight, can be called wildly varying quality. The Canadian, American and the Japanese Assaults were official releases, while the Greman, Scandinavian and French editions were label cash ins. Reading the press blurb with this release it’s amazing that one of these, Canadian Assault, actually went Gold, 50,000 copies.. really??!!??
Almost everything from the classic Venom lineup (yeah, yeah, it was, so shush) has been remastered, repackaged and reissued to death to the point where if you’re a fan you almost definitely have everything twice.
At least twice.
Given how long the Assaults have been out of print, and the fact that (as far as I know) they’ve never had a CD release this is definitely one for fans of the physical object. Over the 6 CDs you get a selection of classics, often in great quantities. If you want 4 versions of Nightmare, 3 versions of Welcome To Hell, 3 versions of Bloodlust.. oh you get the idea.
Interestingly there’s only one version of Black Metal though. The best known tracks are (mostly) present and correct, with some of the studio takes being of historical interest to the sort of person who wants every live version of Die Hard ever released and loses sleep over the fact that up until now they’ve been missing the one from Canadian Assault.
The interview with Alan Robson is worth a listen, politically correct they weren’t. With subjects ranging from Metallica to Boy George, it’s wide ranging and ends in chaos.
I can’t see this reissue troubling the charts, there are definitely some gems on here that capture the essence of what Venom once were. There’s also a lot of, erm, not-gems too, especially the live recordings that only serve to remind you that everything you heard about Venom as a live band from back in the day is probably true.
Although it wasn’t an “Assault” as such, it’s a pity the Hell At Hammersmith EP isn’t on here, for the sake of Venom nerd completeness.
And the awesome live version of Witching Hour.