Brutality reigned in Liverpool Monday night! The Scream For Violence tour had finally hit the Masque. In preparation I had my neck brace in standby for the morning after, recorded a full day's worth of TV on Sky + and fully stocked the fridge (and indeed the area around my couch) with munchies galore. This was all done due to the knowledge that severe and violent mosh-lash would render me unable to accomplish even the simplest of tasks on Tuesday morn. I have to say, I wasn't wrong to do so!
Fresh off the heels of an interview with Andy Rosser-Davies (Onslaught), which will be featured on MetalTalk.net as soon as the feeling returns to the rest of my body through the damaged passageway I call a neck, the palpable feeling of anticipation was quite intense. A generous spattering of old school thrash fans and new wave ones co-habited the audience awaiting a brutal, violent and, above all, banging experience! I must say, they where not disappointed in the slightest.
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After a slightly late start, due to unforeseen difficulties, the first act of the night, Bloodvera, exploded onto the stage, stamping their own presence on it. Some sound vocal work coupled with a proficient instrumental display really started to encourage a spreading energy within the crowd. It was a really solid supporting performance from the local lads and definitely deserving of a special mention in my opinion. Job done and it's a good un dudes!
Next was a great surprise to me. The lads from Fallen Fate! Jesus, what a shock to the system they where! A very impressive and experienced set to really energise the throng further. They definitely won over a lot of the crowd with a technically and vocally inspired performance. The north-easterners have been touring with Gama Bomb and Onslaught since the beginning and I can honestly see why.
A fantastic performance which achieved exactly what a support act should do; excite, energise and impress. They certainly achieved that I have to say! Their debut album, entitled 'The Virus Has Spread' is available to buy now. Not only has the virus spread but so should their recognition as a direct result of Fallen Fate's inclusion on the tour and their exciting ability to deliver some very impressive thrash. Well done lads! Well done indeed!
A surge of hair, chains and black headed straight towards the bar as soon as the set was finished from Fallen Fate. Drinks where downed, conversations where hurried and there was a sense of urgency as they where preparing the stage for the Irish lads from Gama Bomb. People jostled for positions around a wide, empty circle of space within the middle of the floor. Anyone who is reading this knows that this space is not designed to be stood in, merely acknowledged with trepidation!
Quite an appropriate name choice I thought as the way they exploded onto the stage left quite the impression on me. Despite the aforementioned difficulties leading to the late start, the guys had lost absolutely none of their edge and energy. Immediately beginning their set with an inspired choice in 'Zombie Blood Nightmare' the gig erupted into mosh-pit galore coupled with a fair number of people just happily enjoying the song with a good old Metal head bob or helicopter of hair. Brutal and violent lyrics seemed to hit chords with everyone young and old within the masses. Excellent opening it has to be said.
Continuing the momentum, never skipping a beat Gama Bomb, Slam Anthem erupted and, it has to be said, the urge to throw down and thrash out was intense. The impressive, brutal start to the set was just the shape of things to come and I felt pure excitement about the set I was about to hear. The hardest part was knowing I should be paying some attention to my review but the Metal head in me had a definite urge to sample one or two of the 'pits' before me. What a professional!
Proceeding on throughout tracks like 'Final Fight', 'New Eliminator' and, of course, 'Hammer Slammer' the, up to this point, reserved response from the crowd began to manifest into an entirely different kind of beast. Like a waking animal the crowd seemed to find more life and give the reaction that was so rightly deserved. 'Hammer Slammer' especially struck a part deep within a fair few members of the audience and the appreciation was both visually and auditor ally evident!
Throughout the entire set the materials produced were technically gifted, often inspired and vocally sublime pieces of thrash metal. The crowd seemed hard to energise, although the two supporting acts had drawn a fair bit out of them, but Gama Bomb accomplished this with ease. Faultless set coupled with a personality that shone throughout I have to say that the set gave me such pleasure I did often forget to take notes. Anything that can divide my attention like that has got to be nothing short of impressive.
Gama Bomb where a radioactive wave infecting the crowd and leaving their imprint. An Irish explosion on the Masque stage and everyone was hit by the fallout! Excellent set filled with, not only impressive musical ability, but an infectious humour and a superb penchant for banter with the audience.
Nasty, brutal, violent, loud or aggressive are all words that can be applied to these guys. Use whatever terminology you wish to describe thrash metal legends Onslaught's style but you cannot deny that they without a doubt deserve their divine status in this arena. Onslaught have been delighting their fans for years, I should know I am one, and continuously developing whilst staying true to their very core. This is to produce some of the most brutal, nastiest and violent thrash Metal that the community has experienced. What a mission statement eh?
It has to be noted that all throughout the gig not only where Onslaught preparing for their very own set but members of them where often seen dotted around the audience enjoying the previous sets, meeting fans and having a good old chat. That, to me, indicates a true passion for the life they are enjoying and a dedication and mutual respect for their legions of fans. This alone impressed me no end and was an absolute joy to see.
So now the bar was set quite high so I was very eager to see how the performance would measure up, being both impressed and a fan. I expected very big things... and was not disappointed in the absolute slightest!
Opening with 'Killing Peace' right from the outset Onslaught absolutely shredded that stage to pieces. Crowds gathered and pits began as the tune belted out from the speakers. From this beginning I could tell they were really on top form and any fears I might have had about the set, or the exacting standards I had for them, became background noise and faded, over shadowed by truly sublime guitar riffs. A supremely inspired beginning to their first presence back in Liverpool in twenty years.
Loud was the theme of the night methinks. Loud and violent, exactly how anyone should love their thrash Metal. The set progressed hitting a generous mix of old school Onslaught and much of their newer material. Onslaught, throughout this gig, always seemed to acknowledge their past (and indeed their core) but never belaboured it. They chose a set list which showed a clear and definitive direction which they are heading towards. As a fan it was fantastic to see 'The Sound Of Violence' played alongside 'Shellshock'. Truly fantastic tunes which cross generation gaps in their fans and lends the listener an insight into a clear direction which Onslaught are heading towards.
It has to also be noted that new drummer, Michael Hourihan, gave an extremely impressive performance and Onslaught have not suffered at all from this change to their line-up in my opinion. He is a truly gifted individual who has shown fantastic technical ability and seems to have integrated superbly into the band.
Instrumentally and vocally beyond reproach, Onslaught went on to delight fans with such tracks as 'Demoniac', 'Angels Of Death' and, of course, 'Metal Forces'. Pits aplenty where in evidence at frequent points throughout their set. The general crowd buzz was one of complete enjoyment and people I spoke to often lost themselves in the bands lyrics. It actually gave me the feeling of an amassed throng worshipping at an altar of guttural, animalistic and powerful thrash. Love your metal nasty, aggressive, brutal and raw? Then this performance would tick all those bases and then some.
The majority of the tracks performed that night gave me a sense of power. They left me feeling that there was nothing I couldn't accomplish, even writing this review or getting off the couch yesterday, whilst I had this music within me. Have you ever had a tune that not only convinced you that you could take on the world, but also spit in God's eye whilst you do it? That was exactly how I felt listening to the majority of the set and I do apologise if that offends some people but its all about the honesty.
Die hard fans and new fans alike moshed side-by-side to the bitter end and immersed themselves in sheer aggression as the Onslaught guys performed track after track leading to the eventual conclusion of the set. Finishing in pure powerhouse and violent style with 'Power From Hell' they ended a set inundated with instrument ability beyond reproach, fantastic performance vocally and, above all, an amazing gig. One that I am happy and proud to have reviewed.
Reaffirming their status as thrash metal legends, Onslaught proved that acknowledging your past doesn't mean omitting the future of your music. Mosh, spit, bite, fight, pound, celebrate Onslaught whichever way you so wish but these guys are truly deserving of their firm investment of thrash Metal divinity. Just don't leave it for twenty more years please guys!