Released: 2016, AFM Records
Now over a decade into the band’s millennium reunion, Onslaught returns with their first live album since 2009’s LIVE DAMNATION. That is if you do not include the 2014 remastered reissue of IN SEARCH OF SANITY, which contains a bonus live side from 1989, featuring Steve Grimmett on vocals. Coming nearly 3 years since the band’s last studio release, LIVE AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE is the tried and tested label stop-gap to appease the fans until the next studio album. The real questions for fans other than the completists, is what new songs are being included that do not exist on some other live compilation, and is the performance so much better that the album is worthy of acquiring?
Two gigs from Bristol and London are featured on the new live album. LIVE AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE includes 13 brutally effective tracks compiled from the band’s entire back catalog. The breakdown per album is: POWER FROM Hell (2); THE FORCE (3); IN SEARCH OF SANITY (1); KILLING PEACE (2); SOUNDS OF VIOLENCE (2) and VI (3). All told, there are six songs on here that have not been released live anywhere else. Not bad value, but it is the go-for-the jugular performance that stands out, particularly in the venomous delivery of Keeler, who turns many of these songs into near death metal. Witness the crushing delivery of Keeler on “Rest In Pieces” to get an idea.
It’s no secret that Onslaught owes much of its sound to Slayer, and if anything that is even more apparent live, especially on the still worthy “Children Of The Sand.”. The band is inspired and focused, shredding through the material with pinpoint accuracy. It’s always hard to tell the level of doctoring on these live offerings, but it sounds remarkably balanced. Drummer Michael Hourihan nearly steals the show, propelling these caustic tunes forward with a stunning performance and featuring prominently in the overall mix.
The old material blends quite consistently with the new, showing that Onslaught has remained fairly unaltered in their approach through the years. This consistency comes with some minor drawbacks, namely that the constant pummeling and harshness can quickly fatigue casual listeners, as the lack of variety in tempo and approach wear down the listener as the album nears its conclusion. But hey, if you are an Onslaught fan this is what you want. Ultimately, LIVE AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE is a worthy addition for core fans, and shows the band is still at the top of their game. More casual listeners can probably stick with the studio albums, as LIVE AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE offers little change to the studio material save for an occasional increase in tempo and more aggression in Keeler’s vocals.
Note: This review is for the audio portion of the package only. A DVD was not included with the promotional press kit