In Search Of Thrash Perfection
By 1989, Onslaught had established themselves as the biggest thrash band in the UK. Power From Hell was a rough, punk-influenced beast that, much like Venom’s debut, shocked the scene with its raw power. Two years & a line-up shuffle later, The Force was released to critical & public acclaim. The punk influences were scaled back for a more traditional thrash sound, longer songs & more structured riffing. Vocals for The Force were handled by then unknown, Sy Keeler. His guttural, snarling style added a whole new dimension to the band.
By 1986, Onslaught were set for worldwide thrash domination. Unfortunately, it was 3 years before the release of the next album. In these years, Onslaught’s new label had lost faith in Keeler’s vocal ability & decided to replace him. In a rare flash of brilliance, one which has not yet been repeated by a music label, they brought in a genuine metal god. Steve Grimmett had already made his name on the three legendary Grim Reaper albums. The label felt their new cleaner sound required a refined vocal style & that Grimmett was the man for the job.
Of course, any question over the choice of vocalist went out the window with a first listen to the finished article.
They kick things off like any sexual experience with five minutes of foreplay, in the form of an instrumental. This is followed by the sheer orgasmic joy of the title track. Heavy, Exodus-style riffing gives way to Grimmett’s awesome voice. The sound & subject matter are both reminiscent of Anthrax’s Madhouse.
If you want a thrash anthem, you are in luck because there are more here than in Metallica’s entire back catalogue. Shellshock, Lightning War, Power Play & Blood Upon The Ice are all fast heavy classics with brilliant guitar work from Nige Rockett & Rob Trottman and the best bass sound Onslaught have ever had.
There’s also a cover of AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock which sounds far better with Grimmett’s falsetto scream but the highlight of the album is the 12 minute thrash ballad Welcome To Dying. I am of the belief that there is no greater musical creation than the thrash ballad & this is one of the best ever. Grimmett’s vocals, Nige Rockett’s guitar work, everything about it is perfect.
This album receives so much hate, abuse, disrespect from almost all sides by uneducated, illiterate fuckbags who’s idea of good thrash consists of Rob Dukes era Exodus, Trivium & Linkin Fucking Park. The fact is this: Onslaught plus Grimmett equals an unmissable classic & one of the best albums of 1989.