A proper Onslaught live album is due at this point, thanks to a frugal reunion and classics in the olden days. The balance of two periods seems to be the theme upon which "Live at the Slaughterhouse" is based, as it captures a pillaging of the UK over the course of two shows during support for "VI" in 2014, with thirteen tracks covering every Onslaught album in varying degrees. Perhaps a typical live release in spirit and execution, but is that a bad thing? The performance itself is surprisingly brutal and tight for a bunch of old timers fixing up a batch of violence that lasts for over seventy minutes; you'll find yourself walking funny for a bit if you think Onslaught lacks the ability to pulverize buttholes in a live setting.
I think we're at the point where another "Unleashed in the East" or "Live After Death" is unlikely. After all, the technology and availability to record and pump out live albums is everywhere, and thus the experience of hearing something like "Live at the Slaughterhouse" is really dependent on just a few factors that it needs to become a winner. Judging all live releases on such a broad scope is asking for disaster, but generally things will be fine if the production is decent, the band performs adequately, and the setlist isn't completely retarded. When it comes to "Live at the Slaughterhouse," feel free to check, check, and check these items off the list.
It's easy to tell the group has a plethora of fire brewing up in its belly if the performances are anything telling. Sy Keeler sounds ravenous growling and hurling his deep voice over the madness, occasionally dipping back into the reunion-absent high falsettos, which he nails surprisingly well. Onslaught otherwise guns through these songs without missing a note, and that's to be expected. They rip through classics from "The Force" with utmost precision while remaining poised during more mid-paced, newer tracks like "Children of the Sand" and "Rest in Pieces." "Live at the Slaughterhouse" shows how well the whole musical embodiment of Onslaught works in a concise and meaningful fashion, despite covering a chasm of time and interest most would struggle to cross. The production, as I said, is fine. It's 2016; there's no way a live album from a respected band on a respected label is going to sound like dirty pants.
The setlist reflects the consistency of the thirteen-song riot with few complaints, though I have a few. We have a set split almost right down the asscrack: seven of these tunes hail from the Onslaught reunion works, six emerge from the previous life. The older stuff wins my vote for the best in show, particularly the Discharge-esque stomping of "Thermonuclear Devastation" and the three essentials from "The Force" that absolutely slay. The only surprise here is the inclusion of the title track from "In Search of Sanity," which is outstanding. I wish they would've tapped further into the forlorn depths of Onslaught's black sheep, or perhaps produced another track that rarely sees itself in live rotation. The lack of "Shellshock," for instance, is baffling, and I would gladly trade, say, "Rest in Pieces"-not a bad track, I might add-for "Contract in Blood" or "Shock 'N Awe."
But hey, I'm just being antsy. After all, you should always take what you can get, and "Live at the Slaughterhouse" sounds pretty damn excellent. Certainly it runs short in the category of surprises, but Onslaught has the goods to make the whole performance captivating from the opening commencement of war to the final nuclear meltdown.