AFM Records [Release date 07.08.20]
When, on the 29th of April this year, the British Thrash metallers Onslaught announced that singer Sy Keeler had decided to once more part ways with the band, I felt pretty sad indeed.
The band had been working on a new album for the last two years and the Motorhead-influenced anthem “A Perfect Day To Die”, which was first made available in digital format in early 2019, offered promises of a great album to come.
Those of you who live and breathe all things Oscar Wilde should excuse me then for paraphrasing the great author’s words here in order to express my thoughts at the time by stating that “to lose Sy Keeler once may be regarded as misfortune; to lose him twice looked like carelessness”!
Instead of the said departure chocking the creative wheels of this great band, however, it seems to have reignited the members’ passion for music. A worthy successor was quickly found in David Garnett (founder of Bull-Riff Stampede) and with a monster of a drummer sitting behind the band’s kit (see James Perry) for the last two years, the outfit which first came to life in beautiful Bristol thirty eight years ago, created eight new compositions (nine if you include the 2020 version of “A Perfect Day To Die” whose 2020 version is also made available) which I believe collectively constitute the best material presented by Onslaught since their reformation back in 2004!
There are so may good things to be said about “Generation Antichrist”, the band’s seventh studio album, that naming them alone is a herculean task in itself. James Perry has jelled really well with bassist Jeff Williams and their partnership has injected the new material with a massive dose of adrenaline, enough to keep the unsuspecting new listener pumped up for days.
Listening to David Garnett’s voice closely, you cannot help but notice the strong similarities in both style and sound to that of Sy Keeler’s, making him indeed the ideal replacement and as far as the guitar partnership of Nige Rockett and Wayne Dorman is concerned? These lads have managed to come up with a variety of powerful riffs & blistering lead melodies whose style and tempo are capable of keeping fans of both traditional & modern Thrash Metal equally satisfied.
Opening with a collection of radio & TV samples and featuring a classy Sodom-style mid-tempo riff “Rise To Power” paves the way for its more powerful & dynamic sibling “Strike Fast Strike Hard” – a four and a half minute belter which combines up-tempo Exodus-style riffs with flamboyant leads of Slayeric orientation.
More influences from Gary Holt’s legendary outfit can be found in the catchy tunes of the mid-tempo piece “Bow Down To The Clowns” while the same-titled composition “Generation Antichrist” adds a touch of darkness in the proceedings by combining “Seasons In The Abyss” (Slayer) era melodies with vocal lines normally found in the work of Destruction’s front man Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer.
While there are many top compositions to be found in this album, the one that stands out for me is the “All Seeing Eye” whose “Reign In Blood” sounding main vocal melody combines expertly with massive Exodus-style riffs courtesy of Mr. Nige Rockett.
In “Addicted To The Smell Of Death” we have another modern-era Destruction sounding composition while the follow-up “Empires Fall”, the second highlight of the album, provides the listener with a musical canvas where the likes of Sodom, Slayer & Destruction battle for supremacy.
Short but pretty to the point, “Religiousuicide” really puts the ‘pedal to the metal’ while the closing composition “A Perfect Day To Die” oozes with enough Rock n’Roll attitude & energy to constitute a fitting tribute to the band’s earliest influence – the mighty Motorhead.
With the likes of Testament, Annihilator, Sepultura & Warbringer having released some top notch material already this year and with a new Megadeth album on the way, most of you would be excused in assuming that the top positions on may people’s ‘Thrash album of the year’ lists have already been filled. Onslaught’s “Generation Antichrist” has come to shake things up and, most importantly, to remind you how powerful, fresh and exciting a Thrash Metal album ought to be. Well done lads – we’ve been mightily impressed indeed! ****1/2
Review by Ioannis (John) Stefanis
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