Onslaught - _Killing Peace_
(Candlelight Records, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
It's all too easy to harp on a band for returning to action after a fifteen-year bout of woolgathering with not one new trick in their book, not a single (even cursory) attempt to update their sound or capture at least a fraction of that contemporary zeitgeist. Easy, that is, until one starts to count on however many fingers it may require the number of bands that have successfully made the transition without falling flat on their face. In most such cases the majority of band members haven't even been in the same room together over the interim, let alone turned loose mutually supportive riffs and drum fills in artistic unison. Point is, you're pretty much lucky if they're still able to reach into their grabbag of old tricks and pull out a non-fucking-travesty.Onslaught -- reformed with classic line-up more or less intact, with Sy Keeler's Mirror Mirror bandmate Alan Jordan subbing for Rob Trotman -- are mining the old thrash rut for all it's worth, relying on energy and song craft, stubbornly refusing to get sidetracked into whatever genre neologisms have been coined in their absence. Well, bands in general don't take much of a shining to comparisons with other artists, but the analogies to recent Overkill material are simply too overwhelming to let slide. Not only do Sy's vocals come off as a slightly less raspy Bobby Ellsworth (see the 2:03 mark of "Destroyer of Worlds" for a particularly egregious example), but Steve Grice's double bass rolls could have been lifted wholesale off _Bloodletting_ or _From the Underground and Below_.Helping matters not one iota is the unfortunate choice to stack _Killing Peace_ with the least adventurous songs up front (lead track "Burn" prominently features the lyrical snippet "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" for about the 6,845th time in metal history). Truly the album never really rises above the level of workmanlike respectability, but there's little question the stretched-out, frenetic riffage of "Twisted Jesus" and the roiling melodic dirge "A Prayer for the Dead" are more compelling tunes than the aforementioned "Burn" (an inexcusable re-introduction if there ever was one) and the so-Overkill-it-hurts title track. Sure, one can be accused of lazy journalism for reducing a band to one solitary influence, but quite frankly the transposition between Onslaught and Overkill is so immediate and comprehensive that it would be a disservice to the inquiring fan to suggest otherwise. It's great that these indisputably iconic thrashers have regrouped without selling out or cashing in, but next time a little more breadth would certainly be welcome.P.S.: In addition to a great, well-balanced bio, the band's official site has the original three albums available on CD for mail order. These should be considered mandatory pre-requisites in any metal collection.
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