Released: 2013, AFM Records
The UK’s Onslaught began life as a band 30 years ago. Coinciding with that milestone is the release of band’s 6th full-length album appropriately titled VI. VI is the third album from the band since jumping back on the thrash road to hell in 2007. Indeed, it is a road littered with the corpses of forgotten country mates like Atomkraft, Re-Animator, Sacrilege, Slammer and others. Along with fellow UK thrashers Sabbat, Xentrix, and Satan, Onslaught are breathing in the rarified air of having a shot at a second career, thanks to the world wide thrash revival that is still going strong.
The current lineup is a mix of many different variations of Onslaught’s lineup through the years. Sy Keeler remains the vocalist, good enough now for the band, but canned in the latter 80s after the had sent Keeler away for singing lessons which did not deliver the results they wanted. Keeler delivers the goods here, his harsh and aggressive vocals matching the music step for step. VI is among Onslaught’s heaviest and most aggressive outings yet, an angry and pummeling blast of modern thrash. Modern is the key here, as Onslaught has essentially copied the production and style present on numerous thrash revival albums, like Exodus and Death Angel’s most recent two albums. There is also evidence of more experimentation, as the excellent “Children Of The Sand” reveals itself to be one of the two best tracks on the album with a middle eastern styled intro. The other memorable track is the bulldozer anthem “66’ Fuckin’ 6”, not a real imaginative tune but one that hits like a cement block. Closing things is the Slayer inflected, “Enemy Of My Enemy”, a worthy finish to a frenetic album that clocks in with a Slayer-like brevity of 9 songs in roughly 38 minutes.
This is a heavy album, fierce and lethal but also one that really sheds almost all remaining vestiges of classic Onslaught. The inevitable result is an album that fits nicely on the contemporary shelf of modern thrash, but sacrifices identity and any attempts to offer something different than what is being peddled by at least a dozen other active thrash bands. The more I listen to and evaluate Onslaught, the more I am inclined to draw comparisons to Helstar, both bands becoming impossibly heavy and barely recognizable. Either could truly be classified as a new band, which depending on your perspective could be good or bad. Kudos to the guys for somehow growing faster and heavier as they age. Not every song is a masterpiece, but there are enough good tunes in here to stir up any pit. Recommended for fans of Exumer, Helstar, modern Death Angel and Artillery.