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The bastard child of Britain’s second wave of metal and punk rock, thrash was faster and more intense than anything going at the time. While thrash was spreading like a wildfire in America during the early ‘80s, across the pond in England, Onslaught was at the forefront of this movement towards heavy low-end technical riffs mixed with high-end sweep-picked runs and aggressive lyrics. Flash forward to September 20, 2013, and Onslaught is still bringing new elements to thrash on VI.

Using a mix of ambient strings, bass and a gong, the 34-second intro “A New World Order” gives the listener a false sense of what is to come. Soon the melodic swelling gives way to pure distortion. As “Chaos is King” begins, Onslaught drops a panning battle of guitar on the left and drums/guitar on the right. Mic Mourihan’s blastbeat drum work and Jeff Williams’s driving, distorted bass lay a solid foundation for alternating guitar work from Andy Rosser-Davies and founding member Nige Rockett. Once you add Sy Keeler’s raspy yet discernible vocals on top, Onslaught’s new house lives up to its name in every way. From their Venom-esque track “Fuel for My Fire” to the eerie toy piano lead-in to “66’Fucking’6,” Onslaught is a band that knows how to manipulate the architecture of their music to prevent the listener from being burnt out by overly repetitive riffs, incessant double bass runs, and unintelligible lyrics.

While thrash lyrics are generally concerned with personal issues and the shortcomings of politics/society, Onslaught shows its black metal leanings with its heretical lyrics in “Cruci-Fiction.” There are several bands that mix genres, but in order to do it right, a band has to have mastered the rules that define their house. By learning the rules, a musician is free to break free of those confines and incorporate styles/philosophies that tend to be prevalent in other styles. After 20-plus years, Onslaught have done so.

VI comes out on September 20th via AFM Records. Stream a song below.

— David Trussell

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