VENOM – Assault! (Dissonance)VENOM – Assault! (Dissonance)

First released when the band were in their ascendancy, the ‘Assault’ series soon took on quasi-legendary status amongst fans as must-have items, not because they offered anything particularly new (although the live tracks were nice to have on record) but because they had novelty value and, as imports, they were so damned collectable. And expensive. The releases were supposed to be ‘souvenirs’ of overseas tours, and only the first two (‘Canadian…’ and ‘American Assault’, from January and November 1985 respectively) and the final ‘Japanese Assault’ from 1987 were ever officially sanctioned by the band; that said, both the German and Scandinavian releases carried a Neat Records centre label and an ‘issued under licence’ comment, so were ‘official’ in that respect and probably put a few more quid in Neat’s coffers.

The ‘series’ ran to six EPs in all, and this box set wraps ’em all up either on CD or, if you wish to splash the cash, on vinyl. The first two releases followed a pattern of three studio cuts on one side and three live tracks from the 1 June 1984 Hammersmith Odeon show on the other. ‘French Assault’, also from the tail end of 1985, tweaked the formula a little by crossing three studio songs with just one from Hammersmith and ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Bloodlust’ from the August 1985 BBC Friday Rock Show session. The Scandinavian release from 1986 featured three cuts from the Friday Rock Show (‘Nightmare’ and ‘Bloodlust’ again, alongside ‘Too Loud’ [sic]) with ‘Warhead’ and ‘Die Hard’ from Hammersmith and the studio cut of ‘Powerdrive’. Finally from Europe, the ‘German Assault’ from 1987 took three BBC cuts, two studio tracks, ‘Buried Alive’ from Hammersmith and the infamous Metro Radio interview with DJ Alan Robson. The only real variation on the theme came with the ‘Japanese Assault’, which at forty minutes ran in as a real album and wrapped up the ‘In League With Satan’ and ‘Bloodlust’ singles with other assorted A- and B-sides; the obligatory live cut was ‘Witching Hour’ from the ‘Hell At Hammersmith’ 12”. ‘Japanese Assault’ also marked the end – the first time around – of the classic line-up, the rear sleeve bearing the message “Good luck to Mantas, best wishes to the new Venom!”

Is ‘Assault!’ worth buying? Yes: it’s good to have the full series in the racks (the ‘Italian Assault’ remains as mythical as the yeti) and it’s a tidy little collection, though if Venom don’t float your boat it’s unlikely to covert you. Would it be picky of me though to suggest that a booklet would have been a nice way to finish the package off?

© John Tucker December 2017