OneMetal music REVIEW: Onslaught – Sounds Of Violence

Onslaught – Sounds Of Violence

Somewhere, somehow, I missed Onslaught‘s reformation back in 2005, so the news of this impending release was one hell of a shock to me. A few questions to people that were obviously paying more attention than myself revealed that their last album, 2007’s Killing Peace, was somewhat of a stormer. Listening to it subsequently saw me in full agreement, and left me feeling pretty excited for Sounds Of Violence.
For those who don’t know, Onslaught were one of the first thrash bands and a product of dear old Blighty. Formed in 1983 and releasing their first album Power From Hell in 1985, they had a pretty raw sound with as much in common with Venom as the likes of Metallica in the early days. The following two albums, The Force in 1986 and 1989’s In Search Of Sanity (featuring the mighty Steve Grimmett on vocals by this point) refined and polished their sound to the point where many discerning metalheads saw them as real contenders. Sadly, Grimmett’s departure in 1990 and London Records’ refusal to renew their contract saw them split, and we were left wondering “what if?” for the best part of twenty years.
Sounds Of Violence begins, unsurprisingly for a thrash album of ANY era, with a brooding instrumental piece which segues into the first track proper, ‘Born For War’. The surprise comes with the sheer amount of energy and aggression on display here – Sy Keeler’s vocals are as brutal and forceful as they ever were, the guitars courtesy of Nige Rockett and Andy Rosser-Davies stab and weave with real malice, and Steve Grice simply pummels his drumkit into submission throughout.
Back in the early days, Onslaught were likened to a British version of Slayer, and the comparison still holds fairly true – Grice has a Lombardo-esque stomp and swing to his playing, perfectly offsetting some of Rockett and Rosser-Davies’ speedy riffs and really emphasising the massive grooves in the mid-paced and slower parts. One place the comparison falls down, and pretty much always did, is when it comes to the lead-playing. Sure, there are some twin-lead sections that have a tinge of Hanneman/King to them but the solos on this album, unlike on World Painted Blood, actually sound like they’re by men who have been playing the instrument for some thirty years(!). Another is Sy Keeler’s vocals – as I mentioned before, he’s pretty brutal here, verging on death metal at some points (see the huge chorus to ‘Code Black’). He always was though, if you listen to his two prior albums with the band – the real difference since the reunion has been in his cleaner vocals, which are hugely tuneful without ever being weak or overly showy and a real asset to the band, giving them extra flexibility where other, more recent thrashers fear to tread.
Like some of their contemporaries, Onslaught don’t seem to be treating this as a nostalgia trip – they’ve clearly been paying attention to the current competition. In much the same way as Testament did with the phenomenal The Formation of Damnation, Onslaught have managed to create a truly classic thrash album twenty years after the genre was meant to have been killed off. Attention to modern production standards and surgical precision in their playing and writing, coupled with a tangible desire to show that they still deserve to be contenders have resulted in a collection of songs that not only stand up to their already-impressive legacy, but in fact build on it.

AFM Records website:AFM Records
Onslaught Official Web:Onslaught
Onslaught Twitter:Follow Onslaught here

Bottom Line

22 years after their landmark classic In Search Of Sanity, Onslaught have released undoubtedly their finest work to date in Sounds Of Violence - lean, sharp and vicious with a massive modern sound.

4.5/5 - Great, highly recommended

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2 Responses to “Onslaught – Sounds Of Violence”
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  • Carl says:

    Yup this album rips a new one

    February 21, 2011 at 13:56

  • Rob McAuslan
    Rob McAuslan says:

    Is that you, Mr Le B? You listened to the whole thing now, then?

    February 21, 2011 at 14:02 OneMetal Team Member