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Complacency and Violence at the Negotiation Table - 62%

bayern, October 16th, 2018

I was listening to the Onslaught back catalogue (the first three albums) the other day, and couldn’t help but admire the band for sounding interesting and compelling on each of those entries by at the same time without repeating themselves. A fairly interesting footnote they were from the UK, also worldwide, thrash metal scene their cult status very well deserved.

I was by no means the first person in the world to lay his hands on the comeback opus “Killing Peace” when it came out in 2007, but I didn’t waste too much time in tracking it down, either, as I was curious to hear how this vigorous old school revival movement would be reflected in the Brits’ camp. I wasn’t left thoroughly enchanted by it, but I by no means found it a disappointment as the guys had managed to produce a pretty cool blend of furious retro thrash assaults and more controlled (read groovy, proto-groovy) modernisms. In other words, England wasn’t a total stranger to the classic metal resurrection campaign, after all, and apart from downright flops (remember Cancer’s godawful “Spirit in Fames”) it could also contribute with superior, more listenable outings.

It was also good to hear the good old Sy Keeler, the vocalist from “The Force”, brought back in the team, shouting his lungs out in the familiar manner, adding a more brutal deathy baritone to his forceful vociferous tirades here and there. The band looked well-equipped to do a bigger damage on the field and lead their native scene to better times in the new millennium…

And they should probably be able to do exactly that; only if they can bring some of the more creative flair from their early days cause on the album reviewed here there’s very little of it on display if at all. Not that these “sounds”, definitely not of violence, are a throwaway or something; it’s just that they’re done so much by-the-book that some people may find it hard to concentrate on the material since it all sounds fairly samey with little variety on offer. The band expectedly throw a prime headbanger ("Born For War") initially to hook the listener, and the latter would perhaps be still entertained to an extent on the energetic corrosive title-track, but once “Code Black” enters with its one-dimensional groovy rhythms, lasting for quite a bit as well, it establishes a template covered by at least half of the songs here, the monotony dissipated lightly by a few more energetic strokes on "Rest in Pieces", and more prominently by the aggressive "Suicideology", an uncompromising thrash/proto-deathster, the most brutal piece of music composed by the band so far, the cover of Motorhead's "Bomber" not a very striking epitaph, performed quite faithfully, with Phil Campbell from the famed Brits guesting alongside Sodom’s Tom Angelripper.

The formula from the preceding opus hasn’t been altered drastically, but a second similarly-styled recording couldn’t possibly generate the same positive results provided that the band also had much better examples to follow from their early days, and sticking to this clinically-produced, albeit artificially-sounding modern/classic hybrid was hardly going to keep the guys’ old fans jubilant. Besides, Onslaught were the last formation from the old timers who had any real reasons to feel nostalgic towards the 90’s; “updates” from this period simply had no place on their repertoire, especially not on regular bases; they never flirted with the colour black, the mentioned cut from here notwithstanding; neither did they have to get rid of any “force of habits” whatsoever... so why this complacent treading in the groovy/quasi-groovy pond at hardly the most appropriate time for that?

Thankfully, this not very striking tendency was partly put an end with the much better “VI”, the nonsensical title the only more tangible blemish, a more aggressive blitzkrieg affair “winking” more often at the classic canons for a rowdy ride that could be viewed their finest hour since the reformation. Well, you can’t expect anything less from a bunch named Onslaught, can you? How long can you hold them in forced submission before all the power from hell breaks loose…