Review Summary: Fast paced drumming, a huge variety of riffs from tremolo picked insanity to chugging heaviness, and a vocal performance that truly gives the genre a good name
It is a widely known fact that thrash peaked in the mid 1980's, with so many bands making a large impact both on the thrash scene and the metal scene in general. Albums such as Reign In Blood, Master Of Puppets, Peace Sells, Pleasure To Kill and Agent Orange were released to a huge amount of critical acclaim and metal had never enjoyed better years. However, one particularly amazing thrash band managed to fly directly beneath the radar. The band I refer to is Onslaught, a band that never made a real impact but released one outright classic album and a string of good to great releases that showed a huge level of variety. Their classic album is entitled The Force and was released in 1986, the year of many of those albums mentioned before. When you think of the Force, it is often hard to not think of the mythical power in the Star Wars universe, and this album is somewhat like that as it comes out of nowhere and completely takes you off your feet.
This was a masterpiece of an album that was filled by seven songs, with an average song length of six minutes. Starting things off, Let There Be Death has a really progressive feel to it at the start where it opens with a chugging riff and then the drumming picks up a little before moving into full on thrash mode. The bass is completely audible throughout, which is always a good sign as it is all too often buried beneath the guitar assaults thrash metal is known for, and it really adds something here. Whereas the bass usually merely follows the guitar in thrash in a blind attempt to keep up, but here James Hinder really goes crazy on his bass, letting out many good bass riffs. However, the meat of this album as with all albums in the genre is the riff work and here are some of the finest riffs out there. The guitars do not stick to one tempo, but instead are all over the place with both lightning fast riffs and the slower, chord based variety that never fail to pummel their way into your brain. The tremolo picked insanity that kicks in in the final third of Let There Be Death is one such example of this whilst Sy Keeler shrieks his lungs out over the top.
Whilst on the subject of the vocal work, Keeler really does put his soul into this album. He mainly sings in a gruff lower voice but occasionally changes and lets out a fantastic falsetto. Of all the underrated and unknown thrash metal vocalists that do not get enough love, Sy Keeler is among the best as his performance on eight minute epic Flame Of The Antichrist displays perfectly. This song opens with a two minute atmospheric section with echoing voices and a riff set that is gradually building up so that the listener knows that eventually it will go into full on balls-to-the-wall madness but when it does you are completely unprepared for just how good it is. The vocal performance does that same as the other songs but with a lot more emphasis on showing off Keeler's higher range and it really works well. The soloing on this song is top notch as is another highlight of the album, which shows off really well how talented Nige Rockett is when it comes to shredding his fingers off. Every song on this release has some amazing shred solos that destroy all in their path and are a credit to the thrash metal genre.
It is hard to find a group of people into metal who will not enjoy this release as it has everything from a hugely varied vocal performance to the crazy soloing and flying riffs that are expected of the genre. The drumming is absolutely top notch with some beautiful fills thrown in here and there and a lot of fast paced beats that make you believe the drummer is a machine and not a human. This is one thrash metal album to end all thrash metal albums and stands out as a collection of seven songs that any wannabe thrasher who thinks they are hard because they have heard Reign In Blood should own. If you know someone like that, or some scene kid who will claim Asking Alexandria to be the hardest band out there, then this is their ideal Christmas present-it will be better for your ears, and it will save them from a life of disgrace and being ridiculed at high school. This is an amazing thrash release and one of the best in its genre.