1. Damnation / Onslaught (Power From Hell) (5:21)
Onslaught are a four-piece from Bristol, England and were part of the mighty NWOBHM movement. England isn't exactly known as a hot bed of thrash metal with Germany and America stealing most of the limelight. However, England had their share of thrashers and Onslaught are one of those bands. Their sound on this debut album is combination of the raw energy and dark occult lyrics of Venom mixed with the speed and energy of Motorhead, or perhaps early Slayer. What this album has going for it is that crude sound that while roughly recorded works in favor of the band. (Not unlike early Raven, Venom and Celtic Frost.) Unfortunately the songwriting lacks a whole lot of memorability and is somewhat non-distinctive, even for 1985. So while the music is raw and heavy the overall album is underwhelming. Onslaught would get better with age and their next album would be a vast improvement. Though it seems to be an unpopular opinion, I believe that Onslaught put out their best album in 1989 with Steve Grimmett (of Grim Reaper fame) behind the microphone.
It's interesting to note that both Onslaught and Possessed on their "Seven Churches" albums both had songs titled "Death Metal" and both were released in 1985. Possessed are generally credited with coming up with the term Death Metal but Onslaught might have equal claim to the term.
This particular CD copy is a 2005 re-release on Candlelight USA Records.
1. Let There Be Death (6:42)
"The Force" is the second album from English thrash metal band Onslaught. The first album was often compared to bands like Slayer and Venom. With "The Force"Onslaught strives to gain their own identity without completely abandoning the sound they built with the debut. If it be possible, "The Force" has all the raw energy, speed and aggression of the debut but is more refined in musicianship, production and songwriting. Fast tempos, chugging riffs, manic drumming and an overall punk-like delivery are coupled with the screeching vocals of new singer Sy Keeler and a slightly cleaner recording. The songs are longer with the shortest track clocking in at around 4:30, while the majority of the tracks being over six minutes long. Keeler mainly sings with a gruff lower ranger vocal style but also adds in some high falsetto screams.
As was the case with many heavy metal bands from the mid-80's, the lyrical themes are the typical "death, satan, death" type, which really isn't all that different from the debut. However, even the lyrics seem to be improving over the debut.
Released the same year as Slayer's "Reign in Blood", "The Force" didn't receive the same acclaim or noteriety. However, to hordes of thrash metal lovers, "The Force" is considered a minor classic. Reviews I have read over the years have made the claim that The Force is an "outright classic album!" and "a masterpiece". I agree that it's a very good thrash metal album from an underrated band, but I still prefer their next album when they tightened up the musicianship and polished up their sound even more.
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.