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Sounds Of Violence

AFM (2011)
Rating: 9/10

You were never expecting an album with a title like that to be quiet, were you? Onslaught have been around for so many years, and having caught them a couple of times live it’s safe to say that it’s criminal they’ve never risen to thrash star status. Hopefully, Sounds Of Violence will change that.

From the crashing crescendo of ‘Into The Abyss’, we’re thrown into a fifty-minute gunning barrage of bone-splitting, ear-crunching, neck-wrecking thrash played with breathtaking aggression. Make no mistake, Onslaught are pissed off and they’re not taking any prisoners, as the title track snares with jilted arpeggio before tearing the listener apart with the scream of “This is the sound of violence!” The lyrical content is black and menacing, many of the themes circulating war, death and all the other stuff that make a great thrash record. ‘Godhead’ is deceptively intelligent as anti-Christian propaganda, although perhaps the subtlety is ruined as the chorus roars “Children of God, you’re fucking evil!”

As delightful as being bludgeoned by a wall of sound is, Onslaught are more restrained than many of the big thrash bands in the new millennium and the age of Mesa Boogies and Marshall TSLs. The guitar sound, as I’ve already said is demonicallly aggressive, but unlike 80s thrash stars like Exodus, Testament and their ilk, the distortion still allows for that blistering over-the-top Motörhead (more on them in a second) guitar twang to sing through frenetic ‘Suicideology’. The winding middle eight passages bolstered by relentless double kicks grip you by the throat right up until the very last second, and finally relent in the comparative silence of the piano outro.

Also, there’s a cover of ‘Bomber’ and it’s rather good. Played in the same dirty swagger that Lemmy and co. have sported since the late 70s, Onslaught’s charity single for Help For Heroes crashes along at full speed. And while it’s a cracking effort and certainly does great justice to the original, Onslaught’s homage reminds you that before thrash, a man with warts was already doing it louder and heavier than they ever would. Sounds Of Violence, however, does a bloody fantastic job as the first entry in Angriest Group of the Year, and has torn 2011 a new one before it’s even really started. If you don’t like it, you probably like cucumber sandwiches, you bread-sauce quaffing gimboid.

Alex Mullings

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