In their early days, a night out in the musical company of Onslaught was an exciting wonder to behold. Easily the best of the first wave of UK thrash acts, the unfettered Slayer-worship of their The Force album may have been chucklesome to the cynics, but to us young punters it was pure (British) nectar from the thrash gods. Add to that their punk credentials – their early, crust-informed Power From Hell is an all time classic of it’s kind- and you had just about the perfect answer to the German and American bands then ruling the thrash roost.
But then, as often happens, especially it seems to bands from the UK, something went wrong; the band started employing Anthrax-style gimmicks, and, worse still, switched musical allegiance from Slayer to Metallica. Somehow a good thing had turned to ash and slipped through the band’s fingers, casting the band into what we call in the industry ‘their wilderness years’.
They reformed of course, armed with that much-heavier Exodus-meets-Testament modern thrash sound so many bands employ these days, and, much to their credit, seem to be going from strength to strength as much as a UK thrash outfit of a certain age can. And so we hear them now, in all their live glory, on a sort of ‘Best of Onslaught’ live album Live at the Slaughterhouse.
I was at the London show the band recorded for this set and, if memory serves me, Onslaught absolutely, erm, slayed that night. The first thing to note is just how strong vocalist Sy Keeler’s voice is in 2016. He was a bit ‘reedy’ back in the day, a bit thin, but his full bodied roar is a highlight here as the band rip through the newer tracks the young people want to hear (66 Fucking 6 being a particular highlight, featuring some Grade A thrash riffage from Nige Rockett) as well as pleasing old heads like myself with utterly brutal takes on Let There be Death, Fight With the Beast and, of course, the UK’s eighties underground metal anthem, Metal Forces. The band rounds things off with a tip of the hat to their punk roots with crustworthy versions of Onslaught (Power from Hell) and Thermonuclear Devastation, making this a real must-have for long term fans of the band.
Live at the Slaughterhouse is out now on AFM Records