Onslaught - VI
AFM Records
Thrash Metal
9 songs (35' 26")
Release year: 2013
Onslaught, AFM Records
Reviewed by Andy

Onslaught has certainly changed since their days of being a post-punk, pre-black-metal Venom contemporary. The first album I heard from them was their '85 classic, Power From Hell, which certainly fit that bill, but what one encounters on their latest album, VI (this album is the sixth full-length they've released), is pure thrash, with almost none of the experimentation of those early days. Though their laser-like focus on thrash results in a rather predictable record, it is an album that is technically well-made and contains plenty of harshness and precision.

The first tune, Chaos Is King, provides a pretty good picture of what the album's going to look like: Lots of fast riffing, harsh but clean vocals, and short, anarchic bursts of lyrics give one a rather generic thrash tune. Fuel For My Fire is no less cliched, but the riffs are a little better-constructed; this, too, however, is not as interesting as it could be, as it feels like plenty of bands (Exodus, for instance) have written this very tune, but done it with more enthusiasm. Children of the Sand, on the other hand, is more memorable; not only for the Eastern motifs that start it off, but because it's a change from the high-speed thrash in the previous couple of tracks. Original vocalist Sy Keeler, back on the band roster for the past couple albums, has a nice gritty bark, but eschews his 80s-era falsetto screams, which I rather miss, and the guitar duo of Nige Rockitt and Andy Rosser-Davies play well to each other's strengths on songs like 66 Fucking 6, but it still doesn't keep the song from sounding generic.

Cruci-Fiction, though, is one of the best songs on the album, in which Onslaught outdoes itself in lots of smooth, clever transitions from one groove-laden element to another. If they could have been more inventive in their previous set the album would be better, but as it is, Dead Man Walking, a slower, more mid-tempo thrasher, and Enemy of My Enemy, which goes back to the same beat used by the first tracks and has a more memorable solo than the other tracks, aren't the worst things they could have done. The thing that bugs me about this album, though, is that it doesn't feel like much effort went into it other than the clearly good technical ability of the band. This is another thrash metal album with nothing to distinguish it in a sea of younger imitators; it's put out by a band that has a lot of experience and has been capable of better efforts in the past, so why does it have to correspond so tightly to every crossover thrash trope in the genre?

In the end, hardcore fans of Onslaught will like VI, but even many thrash fans might not give this one more than a couple of listens. It's well-made, but treads ground still being done to death by many younger thrash bands who listened religiously to early Onslaught (and several 80s thrash bands have put out fresh new albums in the recent past that were good, so Onslaught has no excuse). VI isn't a horrible album by any means, but it's simply not memorable enough to hold much interest.

Killing Songs :
Cruci-Fiction, Enemy of My Enemy
Andy quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Onslaught that we have reviewed:
Onslaught - Live Damnation reviewed by Thomas and quoted no quote
Onslaught - Killing Peace reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:42 pm
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