Celestial Messenger Target  - Mission Executed / Master Project Genesis (Stormspell Records) 1987/1988/2009

Mission Executed
1. Mission to the Andes (3:29)
2. Hordes of Insanity (5:15)
3. They Walk in Front (5:02)
4. Warriors of the Holy One (4:51)
5. Nuclear Waste (3:41)
6. The Gathering (5:03)
7. Under Dominion (of Death) (4:09)
8. Death Blow (3:31)
Demo 1986
9. Storm of Evil (6:17)
10. Born for the Future (3:47)
11. Beyond the Realms of Silence (3:29)
12. Street Fighter (4:05)
13. Dripping Wet (1:19)

Master Project Genesis
1. The Coming of Chaos (3:57)
2. Ultimate Unity (5:00)
3. Digital Regency (4:04)
4. Absolution by Termination (6:01)
5. Dehumanization (3:49)
6. March of the Machines (3:08)
7. Secret of the Dome (5:10)
8. Master Project Genesis (6:07)

Target are a speed metal/thrash band from Belgium. Of the many reissues released in 2009, Target’s ranked as one of those I was looking forward to the most. Their two albums have thus far escaped me, as they were both released on the obscure German label Aaarrg back in the 80’s and are quite rare. However, I had heard some crappy MP3s of their music in years past and knew it was right up my alley. As such, “Mission Executed” and “Master Project Genesis” have both been on my want list for many years. Thankfully Stormspell have re-released these two albums together in one great package, along with some bonus demo material. The 2-CD set includes a 16 page full color insert with photos, lyrics and an informative interview with the band. The insert also sports both original covers, so that either one can be displayed in the CD jewel case. As well, both albums have been properly mastered, sounding far better than the crappy MP3s I had. I can only assume the mastering is superior to the original releases as well.

“Mission Executed” sounds like a young band, fresh out of the garage, cranking out raw, attitude infused, thrash metal, and that’s exactly what it is. While that may sound like a bad thing, it is not. Those early years of thrash metal in the 80’s gave us some of the best albums, and most of them were by young bands just out of the garage, just like Target. The anthemic quality of the songs, mixed with the aggressive chugging riffs and raw recording reminds me a bit of “Kill ‘Em All”, although there is no mistaking the two bands. Target are no Metallica clone. It’s just that same vibe I had when I first heard “Kill ‘Em All” is also present here. It doesn’t take but a couple listens before you start shouting along to the hooky choruses. “HORDES of insanity, maximum thrashing capacity!” “MISSION! Mission to the Andes!”. “There can, be only, one! There shall, be only, one!” Vocalist Guy Degrave has a unique, quirky voice that helps give this release a distinct sound. Rather than having the rough, gravely voice that many European thrash bands at the time were known for, Guy’s vocals had more in common with American bands like Forbidden and Anthrax. I have no doubt that Target were doing their homework in 1896-87 and were heavily influenced by the American thrash scene. Target also mix in a lot of the NWOBHM influence that was still in full swing in 1986. “Mission Executed” is a prime thrash metal album, full of youthful energy and I am glad to finally have it on CD. The bonus demo tracks are a nice addition, though I would have been perfectly happy to have just had the original eight tracks as well. The demo tracks are even more raw than the album tracks.  

With “Master Project Genesis”, Target gained a new vocalist in Steve Gray, and also changed their sound quite a bit. While “Mission Executed” had a raw, anthemic, thrash metal sound, “Master Project Genesis” is far more progressive and technical. The band’s sophomore CD moves away from the American thrash metal sound and has more in common with Coroner, Voivod or label mates Mekong Delta. The looseness and raw energy that I liked so much in the band’s debut has been replaced by odd time signatures, jazzy interludes, much more complex riffing and song structures. With this album that band had become a full fledged technical metal band. “Master Project Genesis” is cold, sterile and even mechanical at times.  Even the lyrical direction of the band changed. While “Mission Executed” had a lot of standard fare for thrash metal at the time, this album deals with science fiction concepts. Steve Gray’s vocals are not nearly as clean or as quirky as original vocalist Guy Degrave. Rather he manages to have a mean, aggressive snarl, while still singing and maintaining a sense of melody. Considering the year this album was released, and the few bands playing this style of metal at the time, I am surprised that Target didn’t have a much bigger following, or at least a hardcore cult following like fellow tech-metallers Watchtower. Apparently Target were just ahead of their time and as such, deserving of a place in history of one of the foundational tech thrash bands.

I’m going to go against the grain a bit with Target. While many thrash fans seem to favor the more technical sound of the band’s sophomore release, I actually prefer the raw straight forward speed metal of their debut. Either way, both albums are a great listen and should please any thrash metal fan. Kudos to Stormspell Records for this gem.

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