The story of Onslaught is that of a band formed by former punk rockers who burst onto the thrash metal scene impressively, hired the wrong manager who subsequently hired the wrong singer for which they blamed everyone else, went away only to conduct themselves in the absolute cliché manner of returning for no purpose at all.
The Bristol-based band was founded by Rockett and Grice in 1982 and issued half a dozen demos, which showed the band shifting from punk to hardcore and to thrash metal. Paul Hill was the early bassist. Power From Hell seemed to be inspired by Venom based on its cover artwork and featured Mo Mahoney on vocals. It had a good reception, but was surpassed by The Force, which was accepted almost as an instant classic. Sy Keeler was on vocals here. Stallard switched from bass to guitar and was fired a year later. He was next in Militia with Darren Keeler, Sy’s brother. The band toured with Exciter, Agent Steel, Angel Dust and others. This was followed by the absolute mistake of issuing a cover version-lead EP called Let There Be Rock. It was typical that a band went from ‘Power From Hell’ to 'Let There Be Rock,' which always is a harbinger of the influence of money, managers and labels. Inevitably, money goes away when the band listens to the money (think Exodus). Nonetheless, the band signed with major label London Records and issued In Search Of Sanity, which was preceded by another covers’ EP, Welcome To Dying. Power From Hell had a demon on its cover, The Force had a pentacle pointing downwards. Welcome To Dying had a neon sign akin to a motel’s. In Search Of Sanity was initially entitled Blood Upon The Ice. Grim Reaper man Grimmett, who had had a metal hit with See You In Hell, was on vocals now having usurped Keeler. The band asserted the label/producer Stephan Galfas had dictated the change. Keeler founded Mirror Mirror and later even opened for Onslaught. The group toured with the likes of Annihilator and Sabbat and came across as weaker than both. Fans found the new material as too similar to Metallica. Tony O'Hora (ex-Torino) fronted the band in its final year before dissolution. London had dropped the act having not found its Metallica/Megadeth/Slayer. The band toured but disbanded in 1991 until the inevitable reformation in 2004. In the meantime, two members funked it out in Frankenstein. Keeler was back singing. Exodus was part of X-Mass Festivals 2005 tour in Europe with Occult, Onslaught and others. Live Polish Assault 2007 was a DVD by Metal Mind Productions, which was issuing multiple full-length DVDs in this period. By this time Keeler and Rockett had become the mainstays and all other members were interchangeable. Onslaught, Eufobia and Suicidal Angels were on the Horns Up Tour 2008. Detente was confirmed to play with Onslaught in Oslo, Norway on May 21st 2010 in what was being promoted as Back To School Night. Onslaught was to play its original 1986 set while Détente was to play material from both Recognize No Authority and the then upcoming Decline albums. The band was no longer on Candlelight and switched to AFM. Three-fifth of the early line-up, and Grimmett and Jordan, were spending time in The Sanity Days. Grice and Grimmett initially billed it as Onslaught The Sanity Days. Singer Sy Keeler was staying home during the band’s Thrash Invasion Tour 2014 of the U.S.A. and Canada with Artillery and Striker in November and December. Former Anthrax man Neil Turbin was stepping in. Mudslinging ensued. The band claimed it fired Neil Turbin from its Thrash Invasion Tour 2014. The band claimed Turbin never fully learned the lyrics. Turbin was hired to sing as a fill-in for the band’s singer Sy Keeler who was focusing on his son’s health issues. Turbin, to the contrary, claimed both lack of preparation time and not being paid for the last several shows as reason for his voluntary departure. Guitarist Nige Rockett complemented the vocals. Onslaught recruited guitarist Iain ‘GT’ Davies of Endevaour as the replacement for Andy Rosser Davies in 2015. Lebanese folk-metal band Blaakyum was touring Europe in support of Onslaught. Live At The Slaughterhouse was also a DVD. The group announced it would play in Lebanon on June 10th 2017 at The Station in Beirut as part of its The Force 30th Anniversary world tour, which had kicked off in November, 2016. The UK-based thrash metal group Onslaught would tour under the Thrash ’Till The Death banner in Europe with Artillery in September 2017. Support came from Chronosphere and Exarsis. James Perry became the drummer in 2018. Wayne Dorman became the second guitarist. They were recruited for a show at Bloodstock Open Air festival on Friday, August 10th in the UK. The band lost Iain “GT” Davies and drummer Mic Hourihan five months earlier. The band was recording in late 2018. After losing singer Sy Keeler to his day job the gang recruited singer Dave Garnett. The man had performed with Onslaught in Sweden in February of 2019 when Sy had pulled out. Onslaught was to release a new album, entitled Generation Antichrist, through AFM Records in August.
ONSLAUGHT - KILLING PEACE - CANDLELIGHT
Generally speaking very few of the wave after wave of bands which reform and release music should do so. If a band went away in a bout of inactivity or letdown there is little reason to believe a reformed and older band would support anything better - creatively or financially. Let sleeping dogs lie. This advice, of course, is vehemently and overwhelmingly ignored by the hordes of returning acts which cover the gamut of the heavy metal spectrum from Black Sabbath and Accept to Cancer and Cerebral Fix. Naturally, these reformations are artistically barren and only serve to pour some cash into the pockets of the band members and their respective business pimps (a.k.a. management and promoters).
Having said that, the odd regrouping of former heroes and wanna-bes is valid and does indeed bear impressive fruit. The obvious examples are Celtic Frost and Exodus. And speaking of Exodus, it is utterly amazing how close Onslaught 2007 is to the Bay Area Thrashers. From the vocal tone and pitch to the drumming and rapid solos Killing Peace is apparently built on a massive dosage of newer Exodus. The other apparent influence vocally is the former Reverend and Metal Church man David Wayne. It is sad to say, but Bristol, England’s Onslaught has really little to say here musically. A couple of titles and lyrics like Shock’n’Awe, Destroyer Of Worlds and Twisted Jesus are topical, but the band’s music is derivative and uninspired. The mix unreasonably favours the vocals, while the rest of the band manages to thrash hard to little effect.
Killing Peace will probably end up rating higher in the minds of fans than the band’s management-driven union with former Grim Reaper singer Steve Grimmett, but when compared to the mid-'80s heady music of Power From Hell or The Force Killing Peace will be little more than fodder for completists. Fans of Metal Church, Exodus and Overkill with spare change might look into Killing Peace. Most others will probably want to look elsewhere before shelling out cash. - Ali “The Metallian”