Onslaught – “Generation Antichrist” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
With long time vocalist Sy Keeler once again parting ways with the band, there’ve been a few questioning whether sole co-founder guitarist Nige Rockett would finally decide to knock it on the head after being in the business since 1982. However, for those who’ve followed these ‘Bristol black speed torpedoes’ since that time, it was an obvious answer (along with a confident chuckle) as he wasted no time in recruiting Dave Garnett, who’d previously filled in for Sy Keeler at the House of Metal Festival in Feb 20, along with new members James Perry (drums) and Wayne Dorman (guitar), all of whom feature on “Generation Antichrist”, the band’s 7th studio album. Moreover, Onslaught are a band that have gone through many changes since their roots of being punk to embracing thrash metal in the 80s, playing with Motörhead, Exciter, Kreator, Nuclear Assault, Agent Steel, Crumbsuckers, Sabbat and at one time, having renowned vocalists Neil Turbin (Anthrax) and Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper, Chateaux, Lionsheart, Medusa) in their ranks. Furthermore, their bounce back in 2005, after a hiatus of nearly a decade and a half, was nothing short of remarkable, with crowd demand even stronger than before, and despite more line-up changes including the departure of co-founder drummer Steve Grice in 2011, Onslaught have continued their savagery unbowed and unabated since! As such, if there has been anything that hasn’t changed, then it’s in their uncompromising thrash stance to give their fans old and new just exactly what they crave, although to continuing levels of sophistication from technical finesse in the musicianship as well as refinements to the composing, while always keeping it real for the live appeal. “Generation Antichrist” does precisely that in all its 9 tracks, being raw and brutal as you might expect, yet with an intended natural sound in preference to using technology. ‘Strike Fast Strike Hard’ does exactly that from James Perry’s blistering double bass drumming to the fast dancing thrash riffola atop which Garnett’s hoarse throat grating vocals and roars add their aggression, although the real hook is in the punk rapid fire lyrics of ‘…we are hunters…we are dogs of war…never surrender…’ and the shouted chorus backed by an uber catchy groove – yes! Through a bass and drum barrage, ‘Empire’s Fall’, chunders in another massive catchy groove topped by Slayer-esque melodies at mid tempo speed, allowing the huge buzzsaw guitar sound to do the damage while the rhyming lyrics are a gem in being memorable while equally easy for any crowd to master – a definite winner. Smashing in on ‘Religiousuicide’, the Slayer influences are evident, but Onslaught definitely show they’ve learned a thing or two over the years with more catchy rhyming rapid fire lines spat out by Garnett to the twisted riffola of Rockett and Wayne Doorman being the clinchers for this excellent song – oh, and I love the drum sound that will be a treat to hear live! Ending with a re-recording of their 2019 single ‘A Perfect Day To Die’, that originally had Sy Keeler on vocals, Jeff Williams’ strummed bass and the superb mix of thrash and rock n roll, complete with some excellent breaks from Rockett and Doorman, culminate this superb album in fine tribute to their lifelong hero, Lemmy. Far from being a band with a questionable future, “Generation Antichrist” shows Onslaught at their finest moment ever.