Onslaught – Sounds Of Violence Review

Despite their longevity, I first truly crossed paths with British thrash outfit Onslaught with their reunion disc, 2007’s Killing Peace. I’d heard of the band, as punkers and then as thrashers and most notably as a post-Grim Reaper outlet for Steve Grimmett, but I’d never delved too deeply into their early work. But Killing Peace struck a chord—it was nothing new creatively, but it was energetic, its stout modernity and furious post-millennium thrash ethic akin to Dukes-era Exodus or Overkill’s early-2000s work: all chunky speed, chugging mids and catchy choruses. I reviewed the stopgap live effort Live Damnation a few years back, finding it neither awesome nor awful, and in that review, I called for a true follow-up to Killing Peace.

And now, here it is.

And, well…

Sounds Of Violence isn’t bad, but it’s mostly boring, a bland effort from a band that can definitely do better, as Peace quite capably showed. These Sounds blur together in one morass of modern thrash, interchangeable thick tones and chugging grooves beneath half-screamed melodic verses and shout-along choruses. Sy Keeling’s vocals range from a near-death growl to a Blitz-like high, far more often the former than the latter, but nothing he’s singing is particularly brilliant, in terms of either melody or lyric. The guitar tandem of founder Nige Rockett and newcomer Andy Rosser-Davies doesn’t spit forth any riffs particularly fat or flat, none that stand out above and beyond any others in either direction. Most of the tunes start on their strongest notes and then devolve into calculated breakdowns, mosh-designed and pounding.

There is some merit within those best bits of Violence (the chorus of “Rest In Pieces,” the typically anti-Christian rhetoric in “Godhead”), but as I listen, I feel like these Sounds all run on and on too long. In checking the track listing, I find that many of these tracks are in the four-minute range, which proves problematic—I mean, if a four-minute song seems like a seven-minute song, then something is wrong. By the time the closing cover of Motorhead’s “Bomber” arrives, my attention has waned beyond the breaking point. That cover is easily the best track on hand, faithfully rendered and featuring Phil Campbell and Sodom’s Tom Angelripper, but “Bomber” arrives too late, too late to save Violence. There’s simply little here in all this thrashing madness that sticks with me when the disc stops spinning.

If one believes (or even assumes for a moment) that the cover of an album truly sums up its contents, then the drab, clichéd fascist-eagle-and-pentagram-on-black-and-grey-background that adorns this record is apropos. It’s acceptable without being exceptional, suitable and straight-ahead, as uncreative and within-the-box as you can get with a metal album cover, and this album is just that. Sounds Of Violence is thrash-by-numbers, colored within the lines and done with skill and taste, but it neither expands upon nor even equals Killing Peace’s fury and quality, and some three years after that record, which was solid but second-tier even then, it falls short.

Sadly, Sounds Of Violence aims to please, to bring you to your knees, but it’s a bomb, and that’s a bummer.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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