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Onslaught's previous release The Force had me in quite an awe, it was a relentless thrash assault I could easily see myself enjoying along with Artillery, Exumer, and Grinder just to name a few bands (that sound similar), but what the hell happened here? I guess I can't say I was totally surprised by this, since it's got quite a nasty vibe going for it already. Though my interest got the best of me and this was just another one of those albums I wanted to hear for myself. It's not pretty, not one bit.
Yeah, we've all seen it happen before especially with some of the bigger names out there. Thrash bands take a turn for the worst, get a little "groovy" slowing everything down and try to be more approachable. This is probably what Onslaught were trying to accomplish with this release but ... damn is this just a mess. Even if their softer/slower style wasn't enough of a change, they brought in Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper fame to take over vocals. Along with this a new bassist and guitarist were added replacing former members, which probably just added more to the big equation.
Don't get me wrong, I gave Grim Reaper's "Best Of" compilation quite a nice review a long time ago and it's still something I really enjoy - I really enjoy Steve Grimmett. He's an incredible vocalist and really classy at times with that great 'NWOBHM' styled voice that he carries. I love my thrash and I love my shrieking vocalists. But it's the way Onslaught used him here, I'm not sure if it was Grimmett himself that made the band change so drastically or not but these vocals here don't fit at all! At times it sounds like they just recorded some completely random vocals over some completely random music, it's just that bad. The worst part about all of this is that it definitely could have worked out. Just look at Toxik, Realm, Flotsam and Jetsam, etc, there were plenty of thrash bands out there with clean vocalists that were great (although thrash fans are always torn on this aspect, I'm sure we can all agree at least the way the vocals were executed they fit in with the band perfectly, which is not the case here). As the former reviewers have stated, Grimmett does truly do a great job singing here, it's just that he doesn't sound in tune with the music at all or with Onslaught's image. He tries to soar away with nearly every single note and after awhile it begins to sound too disjointed and makes this really flavorless.
Now I've honestly seen bands take even more drastic turns for the worst and really this album is still pretty heavy at times; just nothing you'd compare to Onslaught's previous releases. They start things off terribly with a five minute long intro that does nothing and from there, it quickly becomes obvious of how out of place the music is with itself on In Search of Sanity, even the guitar tone on this track sounds incredibly odd. The riffs are hardly memorable and there's quite a bit of short quick picking with the guitars which doesn't sound that great at all, so you sometimes don't even end up with powerful riffs of any sort. When the riffs come in they usually don't sound complete or don't continue on for very long, so it's quite a let down on some of the tracks. Overall the music is pretty generic and once you've heard a few tracks you've really heard them all. Lightning War and Power Play seem like the best picks here, being the most aggressive tracks you'll delve into but even the best here aren't without quirks. To pretend this album didn't come from Onslaught might allow one to appreciate it more, but even so it sounds too out of place to fully enjoy and remember. Can't really recommend this one, maybe if you like Annihilator. The Force makes this look like a joke though.