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Onslaught’s third full-length release In Search of Sanity is definitely a change in sound from their last two releases. Instead of a full speed Slayer esque thrash assault In Search of Sanity, represents the far more melodic and commercial approach that a lot of thrash bands were incorporating into their style in the late 80’s. The darker atmosphere and lyrical approach of Power from Hell and The Force has been dropped in favor of more death and insanity oriented topic. The songs are even longer than on The Force and are much slower and more melodic.
In Search of Sanity is a mix of power, thrash, and speed metal with a more melodic edge. The songs themselves are mainly mid-tempo besides Power Play which is the fastest song on the album and rely more on repeating riffs, leads, and choruses. Acoustic guitars are used mainly on the Metallica inspired Welcome To Dying which sounds like a less heavy, much longer and more melodic hybrid of One and Fade to Black. A speed metal version of AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock is present and while it is a solid cover it doesn’t add to the album.
The band’s performance is solid if a bit uninspired considering the highly repetitive nature of In Search of Sanity. Steve Grimmett provides vocals on this release and instead of the harsher less melodic vocals of earlier Onslaught, Grimmett sings in a melodic classic metal style with a higher range. Nige Rockett and Rob Trottman play their guitars skillfully, but play the same riffs too many times and focus more on the riffs than the leads and solos. James Hinder’s bass guitar gives a bass heavy feel to the album and follows the guitars the whole time. Steve Grice drumming is standard and really doesn’t stand out at all from the rest of the band member’s.
In Search of Sanity suffers from some major weaknesses which bring down the score a lot. First off the songs are on average two minutes too long and could use more riffs. The album length is as long as many of the late 80’s progressive thrash albums but In Search of Sanity is far from progressive. Steve Grimmett is a great and versatile vocalist but doesn’t give off any of the usual angry thrash vocals and doesn’t really fit on this album. Finally Asylum the album opener is a pointless horror based atmospheric song which is too long and doesn’t fit the music on this album at all.
In Search of Sanity overall is a solid thrash album but far from an excellent release. If In Search of Sanity had been shortened and made less repetitive it could have been a classic. Best songs are In Search of Sanity, Lightning War, Welcome To Dying, Power Play. I recommend this release to fans of melodic thrash metal not thrash metal purists.
-4 points songs are too long and repetitive
-4 points album length is way too long
-4 points vocals do not fit In Search of Sanity
-4 points pointless atmospheric album opener