Onslaught Unleashes "The Force" In Their Home Town Of Bristol
British thrash metal is often described as an overlooked are of the genre, with much of the focus being shifted to the American and German scenes. However, the United Kingdom had several heavy hitters such as Sabbat, Xentrix and Acid Reign, though many fans will tell you that the premier British thrash band is, was and perhaps always shall be, Onslaught. After reuniting in 2005, the group has gone from strength to strength, released three stellar albums with another one on the way, however this year they have been celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of what many believe to be their defining album, "The Force," by playing the record in full, including in their home city of Bristol.
As is often the case at The Fleece, the opening band, in this case Ipswich thrash metal veterans Anihilated, took to the stage almost immediately after the doors opened. The group has a sound very reminiscent of Slayer and a true old school thrash vibe that went over very well with the relatively small audience who had turned up early. Though not the most memorable of bands, Anihilated delivered exactly what they promised and gave the crowd a solid and frenzied set of break neck speed metal from start to finish.
Up next was Coventry based progressive metal act, Beholder. Openly citing themselves as the "token non-thrash band on the bill," the quartet possess a great musical intelligence which will surely impress metal fans looking for something a little smarter, for lack of a better word, just as they impressed a number of those in the growing crowd. Again, they were not to everyone's taste and perhaps haven't reached their full potential as a band just yet, but Beholder are well worth keeping an eye on and checking out if you get the chance.
Finally, it was the turn of home town heroes Onslaught to grace the stage. Ushered in by the sound of air raid sirens, the West Country warriors charged into "Let There Be Death," the opening track from "The Force." As mentioned, the band have been performing the album from beginning to end on recent tours so a good chunk of the setlist was known in advance. The record features several Onslaught staples which all went over well live such as "Metal Forces" and "Demoniac," while on a personal note, it was great to finally hear "Contract In Blood" in full.
While not a fan of the concept, some might say gimmick, of albums being played in their entirety, "The Force" is one of the few albums that works brilliant as a live performance, given its time of around 45 minutes, leaving plenty of time for the band to play other beloved songs. Songs from the albums since their return were brought out, with the two "Killing Peace" songs, namely the title track and "Destroyer of Worlds," going over particularly well, as did "66Fucking6" as well of course as songs from their debut album, "Power From Hell," including their eponymous song, "Onslaught (Power From Hell)" and show closer, "Angels of Death," with a great cover of the Motorhead classic "Bomber" sandwiched in between. Onslaught proved on this night why they're seen as Britain's ambassadors for thrash metal, as well as perhaps one of the best thrash bands ever, giving their countrymen and perhaps more importantly, their home town something to really be proud of.
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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