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Onslaught - "Sounds Of Violence" (CD)

Onslaught - "Sounds Of Violence" CD cover image

"Sounds Of Violence" track listing:

1. Into The Abyss (Intro) (1:01)
2. Born For War (5:55)
3. The Sound Of Violence (4:05)
4. Code Black (6:22)
5. Rest In Pieces (4:43)
6. Godhead (4:50)
7. Hatebox (4:52)
8. Antitheist (6:32)
9. Suicideology (5:13)
10. End Of The Storm (Outro) (1:31)
11. Bomber (Bonus) (2:51)

Reviewed by on February 1, 2011

"Featuring three veterans of the band from the 1980s, Onslaught doesn’t get to the 'World Painted Blood' bar, but they certainly outdo many of their re-formed contemporaries."

The thrash revival has been going on long enough now that it isn’t cool anymore. Because of that revival, old thrash bands have been reforming by the dozen to ride the wave and make a little cash, and Onslaught is part of that group for sure. While Onslaught’s specifics differ from others, the band that was known in the mid-1980s as “The British Slayer” has released a second album since reforming in 2005, after a 14-year hiatus (“Killing Peace” was released in 2007). Featuring three veterans of the band from the 1980s, Onslaught doesn’t get to the “World Painted Blood” bar, but they certainly outdo many of their re-formed contemporaries.

Firing off with a true “oh f*ck” moment after the “Into The Abyss” intro (those opening chords have more power than Chernobyl ever did), “Born for War” is a modern version of old-school Venom style thrash. But the band sounds winded by the end, like they aren’t pissed enough anymore to thrash this fast for this long. The title track is a chunk of speedy riffs with some subtle groove emanating from the time signature shifts, while “Rest In Pieces” is also a speed machine interspersed with bits of rest breaks for the band, but it still runs out of breath.

The slow-to-mid tempo groove of “Code Black” is the first changeup on “Sounds of Violence” and Onslaught clearly is more comfortable at the slower pace. “Antitheist,” “Godhead,” and “Hatebox” also are somewhat-to-mostly eased off the pedal, delivering the heaviest and most headbangable moments. Guitarists Nige Rockett and Andy Rosser-Davies take their time in layering riff after riff, which nicely offsets their always speedy solos instead of swallowing them.

Now that isn’t to say this is an all quality affair – bands tend to take 14-year hiatuses for a reason – but Onslaught delivers more good than bad. Onslaught has a tough time finding a place for longtime drummer Steve Grice and bassist Jeff Williams (outside of brief bass interludes here and there), and there are only eight new proper songs (!) accompanied by an intro, and outro, and a bonus cover of Motorhead’s “Bomber,” which is a well-spent three minutes with special guest appearances from Motörhead’s Phil Campbell and Sodom singer Tom Angelripper. Over-writing has been a big problem for lots of reformed thrash bands (We’ve got a decade of new material!), and while Onslaught may have gone too light, it is better than the alternative.

So final tally time. We’ve got another old thrash band trying to make it again in the late stages of the thrash revival. The members can’t hold the speedy bits anymore, but musicianship is still there and they’ve added some good slower grooves. “Sounds of Violence” is consistently good but not great. We can debate whether Onslaught fired off all the band’s good reformation ideas on 2007’s “Killing Peace,” but “Sounds of Violence” is not over-drawn and is never banal or boring, which for a band like this is big. This is the album Death Angel wishes it wrote.

Highs: The groove on “Code Black” gets heads banging and horns up.

Lows: Band founder Steve Grice isn't bad, but unfortunately has nothing to add with his drumming.

Bottom line: Reformed thrash vets give consistently good, but not great, effort.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)