Whenever the subject of UK thrash metal arises, Bristolian act Onslaught are always one of the first names mentioned. From their 1985 debut to their split in 1991 and eventual reformation in 2005, the band have been one of the leading lights of the genre. Often heralded as the “English Slayer”, like their now defunct US counterparts, Onslaught draw from a history of both punk and classic metal to make their point.
A recent change in personnel has seen former vocalist Sy Keeler leave the band, replaced by Bull-Riff Stampede frontman David Garnett. Replacing such a popular and well respected vocalist can be a difficult task, but if new album Generation Antichrist(AFM Records) is anything to go by, he will be quickly welcomed with open satanic wings by the band’s loyal following.
Intro ‘Rise to Power’ incorporates old radio broadcasts and RichardWagner‘s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, before a menacing, crawling riff takes over, building in intensity until Garnett makes his first gravel-throated appearance. ‘Strike Fast Strike Hard’ lives up to its name by going straight for the throat with minimal fucking about. Opening with a riff clearly inspired by ‘Blackened’ by Metallica, Garnett attacks the material like a combination of Chuck Billy of Testament, and former Exodus vocalist Rob Dukes.
Another track which sounds like it was written in the Bay Area, ‘Bow Down to the Clowns’ is a typically aggressive, mid-paced thrashathon featuring gang vocals, killer riffs, and some serious drumming from sticksman James Perry. Proclaiming “Jesus Christ is a lie”, possibly the worst evangelist in the world opens the savage title track, the song battering you into a bruised and bloody pulp for five gloriously violent Slayer-esque minutes.
Wearing their influences comfortably on their sleeves, ‘All Seeing Eye’ is a serious slab of groove-infused thrash which draws from ‘Angel of Death’, the belligerent snarl of ‘Addicted To The Smell Of Death’ has Exodus written all over it, and the explosive ‘Empires Fall’ has clear echoes of ‘Raining Blood’. Elsewhere, first single, ‘Religiousuicide’, almost dares you not to think about ‘Hell Awaits’, and frantic closer ‘A Perfect Day to Die’ is a seismic fusion of thrash and Motörhead.
Guitarist and founding member Nige Rockett appears frighteningly ageless as the riffs keep coming in wave after wave. David Garnett’s vocals are pleasingly assured for a debut, the singer occasionally even moving into Randy Blythe of Lamb of God territory for extra emphasis. Showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, Generation Antichrist is undoubtedly one of the thrash highlights of the year. Buy I here: https://shop.afm-records.de/onslaught/
8 / 10