Released: 2011, AFM
This year, 2011 has started very strong for my musical tastes. Several bands that I enjoy (Jag Panzer, Assassin, Evergrey) have released some of their strongest material in years. Now we can add Onslaught to that list.
It seems that Keeler has really cemented his role in the band as ‘the voice’ of Onslaught. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Mahoney’s voice on the debut. I also love Grimmett and the album IN SEARCH OF SANITY but that album is the dark horse of the bands catalogue. SOUNDS OF VIOLENCE marks the first time the band has had the same lead vocalist two albums in a row. Keeler is the man and I hope he stays there. Why is this important? Well, Keelers vocal performance really sets the last couple of albums apart from the first phase of their career in the 80’s. He sounds vicious! Check out that scream/note he holds near the end of the song ‘Born for War’. They add a just a little echo/ambient effect that really brings out his voice. He really sings very low, gruff and heavy on this record for the most part. There are a few little vocal effects as heard on the title track, which add a slightly modern style. Experimenting with vocal effects could be a potentially bad thing for a band that is so firmly entrenched in the history of UK thrash, but the producer, Jacob Hansen, adds just a hint of dynamic recording flair to make the album sound contemporary…not ‘modern’ but contemporary.
The vocals are not the only highlight on this killer 45-minute slab of thrashy goodness. It’s not all just pure speed, the bands slows it down a bit and lets the heaviness shine through. Many of the songs have a really enjoyable mid-tempo guitar chug, really easy to head-bang too! Think perhaps of newer Testament or even Annihilator where all the bands can pull the brakes and let the songs stretch out a bit without sacrificing anything.
Overall SOUNDS OF VIOLENCE is likely the darkest, meanest sounding and heaviest album in their career. Some might argue that the last album was heavier, it’s pretty close in terms of thrash-tastic brutality. Every album sounds a little different but this is a nice continuation of the last record, and a fine step to truly establishing a consistent signature style. These veterans have truly delivered a contemporary, mature thrash album.