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British legends Onslaught are back to the front with the latest release called Sounds of Violence, and let me tell you, from the onset this album shreds to the nth level! The old-school masters, once more, show us little guys how it’s done.
Coming off a very impressive live album, 2009’s Live Damnation, the band revisits its roots of pure thrash relentlessness, delving deep into the well that is the past and attaching a modern sensibility to very strong tracks. “Born for War” might very well be a track you could have in your helmet while battling the enemy in a head-on collision over a dirt hill somewhere. It comes in, does multitudinous damage, and then simply escapes without so much as a ‘thank you’. Without sounding at all dated, Onslaught provides a volatile soundtrack to all things conflict, building up a rush of both blood and emotion as tracks like “The Sound of Violence” literally destroy the surrounding ebb and flow. The drop-tuned element might wear thin for some bands who figure that the “C” spot is the source of true heaviness, a mistaken pattern of thinking on all ends, but Onslaught utilizes it and it makes Sounds of Violence all the more battering, as if it really needed added help. I definitely hear more of a finer edge to the groove-inspired tones of the songs, but it doesn’t seem to employ monotony anywhere, which keeps the music interesting.
Vocalist Sy Keeler is aged, but to a level of scarred perfection as his gruff delivery reminds me just what made 1986’s The Force such a masterpiece for the time. Keeping right in line with other legendary bands like Forbidden and Accept who have also put out terrific albums this past year, Onslaught proves again that the fathers of the scene are still viable and able to commit wanton acts of unspeakable violence through music. The band manages to create the often liquefied musical backdrop to a high level, only lending added credibility to the name that has been an underground staple for the last 25-years. It’s amazing to see some of these bands not only still playing the same music, but doing it the old-fashioned way and not giving in to trends. The fact they are still making music that is powerful and worth your time is an emphatic plus.
“Code Black” reminds me of a more modern Sodom sound that crushes and disassembles accordingly, all the while defying the stigma of repetition and generic recycling. The slow, tempestuous movement of the mid-section only proves that heavy is not to be confused with speed. What is also mildly evident is the band’s original punk roots, especially in “Rest in Pieces”, which skillfully marries both the schizophrenia of punk and the combative nature of thrash metal.
Other standouts include “Antiheist” and the killer cover of Motorhead’s “Bomber”, which is a fitting tribute for sure. I hope after all of these years I may get to see Onslaught on American shores because these songs would absolutely bring the walls down, without question.
The British masters lock on to the present once again and keep the torches high. This one is certainly worth picking up.
(Originally written for MetalPsalter.com)