Onslaught @ Wembley Arena, London
20th July 2014
Review by HELeenya
Photos by Inty Malcolm
After a roasting hot day, Sunday 20th July saw some hardcore fans heading up into the heat of Angel to the O2 Islington for the London leg of the “THRASH INVASION TOUR” with the O2 playing host to One Machine supporting Nightlord, Artillery and Onslaught. In this small, intimate venue metal enthusiasts geared up for a full on evening of thrash. And were not disappointed.
One Machine are an internationally touring band, five hardcore hair swingers bought together as the creation of songwriter Steve Smyth. After a strong opening track showing an even mix of vocals and talented rhythm makers it’s clear these guys are on it.
They have a savvy front man and great hairography (yes, that’s a real thing folks). Mikkel Sandager gives you lyrical, high range vocals, Jamie Hunt on guitar was fast and furious with Tomas “O’Beast” Koefoed on bass guitar and completed by the power hungry Michele Sanna on drums. Considering they were a man down, Hunt did a blinding job to give us heavy riffs and racy chords.
Their track “One Machine” was tight. The arrangement fast, dirty and filled with a deep bass. There was a gradual slow down mid track which met the heartbeat and drew the crown in further when they amped it up. With their final track “Freedom and Pain” most folk had edged forwards and were eagerly rocking away, almost moved to mosh! You can catch them at The Underworld in October 2014.
Opening their set with racing drums, deep throaty vocals and an altogether heavier act, the venue was definitely a lot fuller for Nightlord. They have a loyal, keen fan base to egg them on. The lead, Jamie Thorne, on bass and vocals exudes everything old school thrash. His fellow band mates are Neil Wiseman on drums with Ferenc Collins and James McKenzie on guitars. All four are clearly stoked to be here and ready to give us all they’ve got.
Playing from their 1990 album “Approaching Thunder” it is evident that these guys are writing songs based more on politics than religion. Their track “Vote For Me” has a great chord arrangement with an alternative 4 bar rhythm that keeps you on your toes whilst lead guitar rocks you with a brilliant solo.
Following this, the guys amp it up with “Black, Red, Green” alongside some duel harmony guitars that are just beautiful with each riff getting harder. Drummer Wiseman worked his socks off on some tough rhythms that interwove with a slower 8 bar change in the guitar sections.
By this point I have been distracted by the neon pink lights and am wondering who hired a colour blind lighting tech? It detracts from Nightlord’s guttural, well written lyrics. But not for long. These guys thrash on with “Omens In Entrails” using slow, staccato vocals that offset the fast, gritty drums and layered guitars. They create an epic sound despite the lack of definition offered by the sound engineer.
Overall these guys have catchy, unified guitar phrasing and are well organised in their musical and on stage arrangements. There is also a refreshingly clear distinction between their more recent tracks and their 1990 material. Despite starting their pilgrimage in 1987, for me, Nightlord’s story has only just begun.
From the moment they stepped on stage Artillery were keen to share their Danish classics with thrash in abundance. With this their first gig in London, they settled down to business.
As established international players these five musicians ooze sleek professionalism. Lead by their front man Michael Bastholm Dahl (vocals) his use of reverb instantly brings into play the different techniques they utilise.
Backed up by drummer Josua Masden and the strong stage presence of sibling duo Micheal (lead guitar) and Morten Stützer (lead guitar) their folky opening was a treat as it dips into hard and filthy sounds. Peter Thorslund (bass) is a great addition to the guitar harmonies creating a silky sound for a crowd sufficiently warmed up and ready to shout with rage against the machine.
The title track of their new album “Legions” is a mix of hardcore riffs showing the coarse, harsh tones favoured by thrash combined with the higher note range in the vocal echo. Surprisingly it does work to have reverb but I was pleased when they moved on to “When Death Comes”. In this track their message is clear – have good times, have a good life and don’t fear death! It has a catchy beat and a throaty roar. I had to down my pen to thrash it out and surrender to their sound.
Two tracks later, Artillery bought the place alive with “The Challenge”. The guys upped the tempo again with some hectic drums giving the guitars a new lease of life, it is clear that the addition of Dahl will not detract from the classics. Something went a little bit amiss with the clarity of the separate string sounds in “Khomaniac”. Maybe it was the green and purple lighting throwing them off? However the guys soldiered on and ratcheted up mid track to give us a slightly muddy sounding duet but with the vocals giving some quality range.
By “Terror Squad” the sound was united again, the noise from the fans a hearty roar.
Last Words: Artillery have certainly got rhythm, they’ve got good rhymes and gave the whole crowd a thrashing good time.
Artillery Set List:
“Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)”
“When Death Comes”
To the discernible thrash metal ear Onslaught have the whole package: epic riffs, guitar duets that makes your skin tingle and a beast of a discography. Like Slayer, they have hit on a formula which beautifully combines the legendary skills of their killer drummer Mike Hourihan with the bands creator Nige Rockett on guitar, the sizzling Leigh Chambers taking lead and Jeff Williams on bass to play some hardcore metal with blisteringly catchy riffs.
Their latest album VI is far more intense, the addition of Hourihan in 2011 has definitely added something hot into this already spicy mix. Each track sucks you deeper into a pit of rolling drums and thrashing bass that are intricately linked with the vocals of Sy Keeler. The crowd give an epic shout of approval as they take the stage.
Hounded by their frontman, Keeler, Onslaught took the mosh pit from a half hearted jostle after Artillery to a full throttle heaving mass clad in black thrashing it out. His opening line was “This is the sound of our lives”, and he’s not wrong. Whether in the pit or on the side everyone is moving – their fists pumping air, heads banging and feet furiously thumping to their beat.
No one could be static to their sound, even if they tried. But despite the presence of Keeler, each member of the band dominate the stage, the guitarists taking turns to play to Hourihan making you aware of the inclusivity of this lot. The focus between the members is intense.
Like Nightlord their material is not solely about religion but has strong political undertones making one want to spit in the face of establishment. It poses the question – if Onslaught can’t raise hell on Earth, what will?
“Chaos is King” gives us a heady riff with such complex drumming that Hourihan’s sticks are a blur. The scent of the mosh pit fills the small venue and engages the senses with the smell of sweat pungent from bodies hot for revolt.
For a lucky few there was some crowd surfing during “Rest in Pieces” which gave a glorious flash of tartan kilt and a chuckle for those unfortunate to have caught the wrong end of that package. As their set continues there is no retreat. Great songwriting that mingles personal tribulations with the desire to roar and ends up reminding you that thrash lives in the soul.
It is clear that the expertise of the sound desk kept their best work for this last, crucial act of the evening. Sy’s captivating voice brings a falsetto edge to some of the tracks, nicely mirrored in some of the samples used. In particular “VI” the title track from their latest album in which the opening bars are met with a roar of recognition from their fan base. It’s very clear that their return after such a long break was eagerly awaited by these lot.
Moving back in their discography to 1989 “In Search of Sanity” gives me a chance to sit back and take stock of the crowd. This choice of track is again met with a roar of approval and giving back, Onslaught up the tempo with an epic guitar solo that continues into a tight, fast duet. And it just gets better. “Fight with The Beast” has a half break in it’s rhythm which adds a dangerous edge, it’s messy but it’s oh so good.
Leigh and the bassist join forced in a classic unison head bang which highlights the bands team work and integrity to be unified and in tune with one another. As the gig draws to a close the fans are clearly gagging for some more deep throat thrash. And they are not disappointed. The guys clamber back on stage, bathed in red with a strong stance and cranked up the amps for the finale. Their sound is like candy to all those hairy moshers pouncing around their pen.
By name and by nature Onslaught have been a furious attack on the senses for all at The O2, Islington tonight.
Onslaught Set List:
“The Sound Of Violence”
“Chaos Is King”
“Let There Be Death”
“Children Of The Sand”
“Rest In Pieces”
“Destroyer Of Worlds”
“66 Fu*king 6”
“In Search Of Sanity”
“Fight With The Beast”
“Onslaught (Power From Hell)”