Assemblage 23 is the brainchild of Seattle-based Tom Shear, who spent a decade on various electronic projects before finding success as a respected EBM act. For live performances he is accompanied by Paul Seegers on keyboards and Kevin Choby on electronic drums. Shear had previously written music, but his sensibilities began to change in 1988 when he became inspired by the industrial sounds spun by the opening DJ at a Depeche Mode concert. He soon shifted from instrumental synth pop (under the name Man on a Stage) to a combination of punk, synth pop, and industrial influences. Adopting the name Assemblage 23, Shear self-released Wires in 1992, with little interest from record labels. In the mid-'90s, he produced tracks for a side project called Nerve Filter, exploring dark, instrumental techno (previous endeavors included playing bass for the Advocates, as well as the short-lived synth pop project Procession).
Finally, Arts Industria released the first Assemblage 23 track, "Graverobber," on a compilation in 1995. Canadian label Gashed signed Assemblage 23 in 1998, and the following year released the project's first full-length, Contempt. In 2001, follow-up album Failure, a mature recording of electro and industrial dance, was issued and found popularity in dance clubs. After difficulties with Gashed, Assemblage 23 signed with Metropolis in 2001, re-releasing Contempt and Failure. Assemblage 23's first collection of new music for the label, Defiance, dropped in 2002, with Storm arriving the following year. Released in 2007, Meta featured the hit single "Binary," which cracked the Top 25 on the Billboard U.S. singles chart; that same year saw the release of a set of tracks culled from between 1988 and 1998 titled Early, Rare, and Unreleased. The single "Spark" preceded 2009's Compass and Early, Rare, and Unreleased, Vol. 2. Bruise arrived in 2012, followed in 2017 by Endure, the group's eighth studio long-player. ~ Kenyon Hopkin