Onslaught - Sounds of Violence Review
by Matt Hensch
This may not be the most popular opinion around, but I think "Killing Peace" was one of the strongest comebacks ever made by a long-defunct thrash group. Onslaught hadn't lost their thrashing identity, yet showed no shame when including groove influences that avoided the usual train wreck of stupidity, and not to mention the UK faction had reached a peak of creativity and energy that gleamed through the ravenous malevolence of "Killing Peace" wonderfully, so I think it's safe to say they pulled off quite the stunt. I'm a big fan of their raw, demonic assaults like "The Force" and the infamous thrash/power metal "In Search of Sanity" album with the dude from Grim Reaper on vocals as well; Onslaught just strike a chord with me, and with great thrash records coming from bands like Helstar, it's no wonder "Sounds of Violence" makes me so giddy.
That isn't to say "Sounds of Violence" is just face-peeling riffs and rawness like Onslaught's seminal releases back in the gritty 1980s when ripping and tearing was the law. Onslaught instead defies their shape-shifting discography and establishes the groove-driven ideology of "Killing Peace" using spotless production, mid-paced breakdowns, speedy riffs, and pseudo-death metal touches ala Testament. Sy Keeler's throat spits his signature rasps that are so angry even a UFC fighter would take cover as expected, yet I noticed the double-tracked growls he sparingly used on "Killing Peace" are a lot more prominent throughout "Sounds of Violence," and I'd be lying if I said I didn't find myself imitating his acidic vocals as I continued to experience the album's material. Some of you reading this might think it all sounds pretty uninteresting, but I'm here to laugh at you and explain why Onslaught is still at the top of the totem pole.
Nige Rockett and Andy Rosser-Davies issue a horde of ruthless riffs driving the record through scorching thrash cuts and slowed grooves which bite like incisors with every note. Their riffs and melodies throughout tunes like "The Sound of Violence" and "Godhead" make most of the record seem like some of the best material this band has ever done, mainly because there's a degree of catchiness among the unforgiving brutality, and having both together is a perfect match. The leads are also packed with metallic fire that burns through the crushing atmosphere like gasoline on the sun, and Sy Keeler sounds natural in this setting as well. Onslaught make no effort to go above and beyond with outlandish tunes; most of their stuff is pretty accessible, yet they do an incredible job making everything catchy, violent, and certainly worthy of release after almost thirty years in the game.
It seems the aged offerings of thrashing old-timers just aren't on the same level of consistency as the monumental devastation surging through "Sounds of Violence," which is undeniably one of Onslaught's finest releases: Slayer churns out average tripe, Venom releases the same album under a different name, and Exodus falls from attempting to fly on songs that are too redundant and long; consider Onslaught the anomaly. The British titans have had nothing but smooth sailing since their incredible reunion and continue to grind a special mix of modern zest onto the signature harmonies and attitude that made the UK part of Thrashattackistan when Onslaught became the rightful leader of thrash bands everywhere. "Sounds of Violence" is likewise an excellent continuation of the band's legacy and will not disappoint thrashers of any breed.
Onslaught - Sounds of Violence
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