| Onslaught - In Search of Sanity (Candlelight) 1989
1. Asylum [instrumental] (5:16)
2. In Search of Sanity (7:13)
3. Shellshock (6:46)
4. Lightning War (6:57)
5. Let There Be Rock (4:03)
6. Blood Upon the Ice (8:22)
7. Welcome to Dying (12:41)
8. Power Play (6:25)
9. Confused (1:59)
In Search of Sanity cassette cover
Onslaught's "In Search of Sanity" is the CD many hardcore fans of heavy metal love to hate. With it's release Onslaught added more melody, were a little more precise in their musicianship and songwriting, and entered the realm of thrash/speed metal. It was also the first (and only) album to feature NWOBHM vocalist Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper/Grimmstine). Apparently some fans felt the album was a 'sell-out' and was 'too commercial' compared to earlier albums "Power From Hell" and "The Force". For me, this was the album where I discovered Onslaught when I happened across a cassette copy in a record store back in 1990. It was afterwards that I searched out their older albums and found them to be raw and sloppy in comparison. Perhaps that is their charm. Bands like Venom are best when they have that raw, sloppy sound. As well, those older albums were darker in their imagery. However, from my perspective, "In Search of Sanity" is THE Onslaught album to own. It's chock full of meaty, chunky guitar riffs, fantastic vocals and hook-laden songs that are both heavy and melodic at the same time.
Their sound is not all that far off from bands like Annihilator, Powermad and even power metal bands like Metal Church and Meliah Rage. Steve Grimmett's vocals are amazing. Grimmett sings in an aggressive, sightly gritty, classic metal style adding in some appropriate high screams.
The album opens with a long intro that is, quite frankly, far too long. It's like an extended version of Stryper's "Abyss". Once the actual music kicks in, however, it's just one riff-fest after the other. "Lightning War" is one of my favorite songs with it's lightning fast riffs and galloping drums. "Welcome to Dying" is one of the lengthier songs on the album and is also a bit more melodic and progressive than much of the rest of the songs. The album also features a cover of AC/DC's "Let there Be Rock", which I suppose is another reason some fans felt the album was a sell-out. This cover was released as a single by their label. The cover is a technical thrash metal version of a song that is infused and built around a massive rock 'n' roll groove, so it comes off a little stiff. However, with the exception of this cover and "Welcome to Dying", the rest of the album is just pure thrash metal. "Shellshock”, "Blood Upon the Ice” and "In Search of Sanity" are all straight-forward, heavy, thrash metal songs.
"In Search of Sanity" was Onslaught's last album before they disbanded in 1991. They later reformed and released their fourth album "Killing Peace" in 2007.
The CD was for a long time out of print but was re-issued in 2006 and then again in 2008 by Candlelight Records. For whatever reason, the re-issue has the cover art so dark it's hard to tell what is going on. I suppose this was to give the original art a 'darker' feel, but frankly it just looks poorly reproduced. The CD cover above is a scan of the re-issue. I've also included a scan of the cassette copy above for a comparison. The re-release contains a bonus song, a cover of Angel Witch's "Confused".