The British Thrash Metal veterans grouped as ONSLAUGHT have returned to the market. After their devastating “Sounds Of Violence” in 2011 (see my review here) and the following extensive spreading of those sounds in various countries around the world, it was time for new material to be presented to the masses eagerly awaiting this vital medicine.
One might think inspiration would be high when it comes to the album title. Alas, this was not the case. For the sake of ease then, they titled this new release… “VI” (6 in Roman figures). Because, yes, it’s their sixth studio album. Hurray! They could (!) have had more, were it not for the long break in the 1990s. But that’s history and today is today, and the band is perhaps at its best since ever. “VI” is set for release on the 20th of September. There’s also a bonus track on the limited edition digipack and LP-edition: “Shellshock”. This track was re-recorded, featuring legendary Japanese thrashers UNITED, and can in its original version be found on the album “In Search Of Sanity” (1989).
A few words from mr. Nige Rockett (guitar) himself: “Even at this early, early stage,” says guitarist Rockett, “everyone who has heard “VI” has different stand out tracks…. “Chaos Is King” is a very worthy opening track for an ONSLAUGHT album, right up there with “Let There Be Death” and “Born For War”. Definitely the most aggressive song we have ever written, it’s a real relentless thrash out from start to finish that really pushed the boundaries of our playing to the max. It’s actually a prequel to the track “Code Black” on the last album lyrically. If you listen to the intro of “Code Black”, you will hear the end of “Chaos Is King” … There was a lot of forward planning involved in this.” “Children Of The Sand” is ONSLAUGHT’s biggest experiment to date without question. Lyrically it reflects the fragile situation in the Middle East, which is inherently caused by religion and the indoctrination it breeds. The music paints a very dark, eastern sounding backdrop for the lyrics and we’ve actually incorporated a ‘real string section’ and ‘female vocals’ to enhance the whole theme!” “Dead Man Walking” is another different kind of track for ONSLAUGHT. It has this kind of brutal and ferocious JUDAS PRIEST vibe to it. It’s probably the most simplistic song on the album, but you can feel the hate as soon as the first note kicks in..!”
This intro aside, let’s get to the songs. Beginning with the intro “A New World Order”, that sounds mysterious, with an Eastern touch. Something will burst loose, you can simply hear and feel it. “Chaos Is King” indeed bursts loose. Holy mother of God! On offer: furious, devastating and brutal riffing. Add thundering drums played by a chilli-stuffed drummer and you know the world is no longer safe. Sy throws in his typical aggressive vocals and a perfect marriage is the result. There’s melody in this song as well, though it’s limited to the solos. “Chaos Is King” is not a whirlwind, it’s a typhoon destroying all in its path.
“Fuel For My Fire” does begin with melodic guitars, creating a tension before the Thrash assault kicks in with… full force! And yet so catchy! It’s a dark and vile song overall, but it’s got group singing in the chorus. That’s new, no? Sy also sings a bit cleaner here, though still reaches for the higher notes. In the verses I had the impression Sy sounded like he did in the “Born For War” bridge (or pre-chorus). Well, well, well. 😉 Over halfway, it’s of course solo time. Even though solos are need in ONSLAUGHT songs, why are they never memorable? Is it because Nige and Andy focus more on rhythm and add solos just to spice things a bit more? In any case, you get very energetic music here, and a sing-along chorus, which is repeated in bursts as the end nears.
And so we head off to the conflict in the Middle East: “Children Of The Sand”. The female chanting perfectly reflects the atmosphere. Firm, midtempo, and straight-forward Thrash sets in. Sy sounds vicious and aggressive, as ever, but remains inline with the flow of the music. The chorus sounds, somehow (or my ears were fooling me), similar to “Code Black”, though here with the female chanting. The music is heavy, yet sounds more melodic than before. A dark bridge later on leads the way back to the regular path. While one can only give kudos to the band for trying new things, I found this song a bit less attractive (but it’s not bad at all, let that be clear). It’s indeed an experiment, one that requires a few listens to get into/used to.
Time for some serious pounding. “Slaughterize”, the title says it all. A building intro, powerful and explosive. And then the place gets nuked. Artillery is unleashed, flee for your lives! At a high tempo the music comes rushing out of the speakers. The chorus is simple, though (“Killing is my aim in life” on repeat), but it’s the music that is key. Also notice the rhythmic piece afterwards. Before the wild solos are due, a dark, haunting, and alarming bridge needs to be crossed. Quality assured, from start to finish. What comes next? “66’Fucking’6”. A typical number in Metal, but wait… is that a song about Metal, or rather, about moshing, the style of music and stuff? It’s a joke, right? How many more of these do we need? As much as I like Metal (in its various forms), it gets lame after a while. However, the music is good. It begins with a music box (à la “twinkle, twinkle, little star…”) and then heaviness kicks in! Firm and straight-forward. Also very accessible, as it’s one of the many Metal hymns out there. I like how the guys listened to TESTAMENT for the chorus. Not only does the music sound a bit like that of their American colleagues, Sy also sounds a bit like Chuck Billy when he/Chuck sings.
Back to ONSLAUGHT business then with “Cruci-Fiction”. Here Nige and Andy provided the song with double melodic guitar waves. Is there danger ahead? Indeed there is! Woha! Demons from the abyss! The Power/Thrash Metal pushes onwards, by means of a catchy rhythm and early-on solos. The verses are firm and direct. Things slow down in the bridge, almost breakdown-slow, but the gas pedal is found to accelerate in the (pounding) chorus. Another qualitative song in the bank. “Dead Man Walking” takes a direct, instrumental start. Uptempo Power/Thrash is again on offer. Power, because it’s not as Thrashy as before, but still sharp and ferocious to be tagged Thrash as well. Sort of like PARADOX also plays this kind of cross-over Metal. Catchiness is key with ONSLAUGHT’s rhythms, and this song also has that typical ONSLAUGHT guitar scream. For the vocals, see “Antitheist” (on the “Sounds Of Violence” album). At least, they gave me that impression. The music pounds onwards in the chorus, while a dark bridge links up with the obligatory solo moment. Overall, though, the focus lies on rhythm and Sy’s vocal cords.
Last but certainly not least, there is “Enemy Of My Enemy”. “VI” ends with the fast and the furious! Get set for an extreme ride of galloping riffs and uptempo drums, in typical ONSLAUGHT-style. It is massive, it is awesome! And how I love Michael’s drumming here! The man’s got stamina, that’s a fact. Pardon the reference, but “Born For War” and “Suicideology” came to mind, even though “Enemy Of My Enemy” is no copy of any those songs. Fast and furious link up with a slower, but pounding, and melodic (mainly via Sy’s vocals) chorus. A straight-forward bridge leads to the wild solo section. After that, it’s back to chorus business and working your way towards the end… by fading out and slowing down the drums. Masterful!
“Sounds Of Violence” showed an ONSLAUGHT that outdid itself on all levels, compared to previous efforts. With “VI” the band took it up another level, experimented a bit more, but made sure all qualities and characteristics of the band on the previous record were preserved. For the brutal and powerful sound, the band did not jump on the bandwagon. They did not go to Andy Sneap. They did not go to Jacob Hansen. They did not go to Jens Bogren. They asked Tomas “Plec” Johansson (see Metal-Archives.com) from The Panic Room (website). As a result, and also because the songs are right out killer!, the sound is less polished than before. And that is another positive aspect regarding “VI”. In short: “VI” is heavily recommended material!
- A New World Order
- Chaos Is King
- Fuel For My Fire
- Children Of The Sand
- Dead Man Walking
- Enemy Of My Enemy
Sy Keeler – vocals
Nige Rockett – guitar
Andy Rosser-Davies – guitar
Jeff Williams – bass
Michael Hourihan – drums