The Force reviews
Felix%201666 on January 23rd, 2016
The flame burns eternally
From my point of view, "Hell Awaits" is the best thrash album of all times. Every genre fan knows this opus magnum. Therefore, one thing is for sure. While writing the songs of "The Force", the guys of Onslaught were also definitely familiar with the second full-length of the Californian thrash kings. The configuration of the successor of their debut is more or less identical with that of Slayer's masterpiece. Seven fairly epic songs, slightly complicated but always easily accessible and 100% thrash metal. Not to mention the introduction of the opener which was heavily influenced by the viciously growing beginning of Slayer's album from the year 1985. But - how could it be otherwise - there also exist differences between "Hell Awaits" and "The Force".
Onslaught's second assault is full of straight songs that do not possess complex breaks like, for example, Slayer's "Praise of Death". Without being primitive or repetitive, the raging pieces avoid bizarre or eccentric excursions. Instead, they are based on a rather small number of riffs. But these riffs have a lot to offer. "Flame of the Antichrist" and "Let there be Death", the highlights of a very strong album, live on their excellent guitar work. The latter creates a pure thrash inferno while reaching an extremely high level of intensity during the bridge and the solo after the second chorus. The song about Satan's fire combines the velocity of thrash with a blackened aura. Irrespective of this, the occasionally occurring high-pitched screams of Sy Keeler add the certain iota of insanity and the guitars generate an irresistible typhoon after the last chorus of this epic declaration of war.
The pretty simple structure of the songs creates a high degree of catchiness, just test the perfectly flowing chorus of "Flame of the Antichrist". But songs like the truculent "Fight with the Beast" do not fall by the wayside. Its leads and its riffing stick in the listener's mind and develop a long lasting effect. Small details like the organ at the beginning of "Demoniac" increase the durability of the album as well. Incidentally, this track also scores with a simple melody line that ennobles the chorus. Onslaught possess the admirable ability to realize the maximum effect with a minimal effort. Due to this talent, all songs bring the vast majority of comparable tracks of other bands on their knees. A song like "Metal Forces" does not shine with unique features and its rather leisurely pace fails to overpower the listener in a matter of seconds. Nevertheless, the track unfolds its effect in view of the clearly structured riffing.
Superfluous to mention that the album does not deliver the soundtrack for the next meeting of the Optimists Anonymous. "The Force" is based on fatalism, destruction and darkness. No song of this monolithic record will warm the hearts of fun-loving people. Among other things, the razor-sharp sound prevents any kind of positive feelings. Especially slightly weaker tracks such as "Thrash 'til the Death" profit from the crystal clear mix. (By the way, the emphasis in the preceding sentence is on "slightly".) Everything is well balanced with the result that there is nothing to grumble. 30 years after the release, we can justifiably claim that the mix is stainless and timeless at the same time and the same applies to the seven tracks. No doubt, "The Force" represents the best work of Onslaught that they released during the first part of their eventful career.
TripeOverload on August 5th, 2015
Teetering. A teetering album, which starts on a frenzied pace and keeps it all the way like that, crashing into a lot of little pits in its gallop. I openly admit that the average rating for this album seemed really overblown to me, asking to be slapped. Onslaught's sophomore offering is obviously trying to beat Slayer in terms of speed and aggression, but it often comes off as too directionless, monochromatic, and not focused enough on songwriting and atmosphere. This shit holds a certain promise, which only makes listening to the bulk of it more tedious. For starters, the guitar tone is wiry enough to rival Exciter's Heavy Metal Maniac and creates quite a dense sound, so it's a big plus for me. The drummer is no slouch, but ends up just like another egg beating machine - bam/bam/fuck around. It's nowhere as attention-grabbing as what many other bands, from Slaughter to Vulcano, could deliver in terms of drumming.
The riffs seem to be written with some clear goals in mind. Those goals include heavy metal, squeezing menacing sequences of notes that are anything but that, and mostly all-out sucking. A good exception can be the Hellhammer on steroids main riff of Fight With The Beast, as well as its chorus riff. Demoniac's driving dark riffage and manic leads (which are more entertaining that the repetitive shred'n'howl crap found on most of this album) are also rather good, too bad that Bam-Bam does his thing placidly and the production didn't aid his skins a lot either. On Flame of The Antichrist, they managed to pull out an effectively dark introduction, but nowhere else on the album is this effect replicated. Actually, except Fight With The Beast and Demoniac, there is no song on this album that I could be able to listen to from beginning to end. Listening to this album in its entirety for two or three times required quite a bit of willpower from the dude here. The fact that it fails to sound truly unhinged (like Seven Churches, In The Sign of Evil or Bloody Vengeance did) makes this album a pale parody of what it could have been. The lack of real dynamics and any dramatic twists that would otherwise add a pinch of salt and pepper to songs this lengthy is also striking - this band fits in Mercyful Fate's pocket. The ambition of playing anthems that last 6 minutes plus is reduced to plain stamina on this album, a thing that can be respected but won't grant any A grade by itself. And by the way, take some lessons from Bulldozer and put more variety in those leads, will you?
And grafted over all this would-be mayhem is the vocalist. He does everything as required by the book of metal: rigid cadence, rasped vocals plus ending falsetto yell in each verse, but no real vigor, no special something to make him really stand out. Tom Araya, Jeff Becerra, Vulcano's Angel, Angelripper, Schmier... so many names that own this man's delivery.
One of the most forgettable albums that I have ever stumbled upon, if not the most, this platter of boredom wouldn't tempt me to replay it in the next twenty years. Listening to Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories is much more rewarding than this since one is able to reveal new nuances and reinterpret the sounds each time, but The Force isn't even an example of efficient minimalism. It lacks catchiness and there is no payoff in it. Just download Fight With The Beast and Demoniac and consider that you have the full album to enjoy. The rest of it is just time spent for nothing.
Metal_Jaw on March 20th, 2013
An Ass-Kicking, Rifftatstic Thrash Attack!
British thrash outfit Onslaught had already made something of a name for themselves in the early 80's with a series of hardcore demos and their first studio album, "Power From Hell", a dirty, Venom-esque black metal record. In my opinion that album was good, but didn't stick as well as it could've. One year later, they're back with changed up and expanded line-up. For a few weeks at Matrix Studios in London they worked on their sound, and the result was "The Force". This is a hell of a solid album, a barrage of dark, satanic attitude and enough riffs thrown around to fill most band's entire discographies.
The first major change in Onslaught's lineup here is the vocals. Paul Mahoney is replaced by new guy Sy Keeler, a far better choice. Keeler has a nasty, commanding growl to his voice, not to mention a series of intense screams he lets loose throughout the album. Mahoney himself takes up bass duties on here, and he's primarily buried in the mix, though at times he struts those stings and actually struts them quite damn damn well. Jase Stallard, bassist on the last album, takes on rhythm guitar duties while Nige Rockett keeps his leads. Both of them are highly developed and strong in their efforts, but it's Rockett who really steals the show with his unstoppable shredding and killer sense of riffage. Steve Grice rounds things out on the drums; his efforts are average thrash double bass, but at least he's really energetic and rarely lets up in his work.
We start "The Force" proper: AWESOME, thanks to "Let There Be Death". The intro riff goes on a little long, but man is that buildup to the rest of the so SO very sweet. The rest of the track is deadly riff assault after deadly riff assault and crushing time changes. The rest of the album follows suite with the same jaw-dropping results, from the massive, evil atmosphere of the wicked "Flame of the Antichrist" to the memorable under-verse riff and pounding middle section of "Contract In Blood". Other notable tracks include the lighter, more traditional metal-oriented "Metal Forces" and the charging "Thrash 'Til The Death", notable for being the only track on the album less than six minutes in length.
Overall, if you had to pick just one album out of Onslaught's discography, let it be this one. Not only is it easily their best, it's probably one of the best English thrash albums of the 1980's. There's a whopping amount of killer riffs and slicing solos, and the bandmates are all at the top of their thrashing game. Get this album now! Steal for it, kill for it, LET THERE BE DEATH!!!
Empyreal on April 28th, 2011
A testament to power, might and Hell.
This is it. This is the thrash album I’ve been looking for all these years. In 1986, Onslaught released The Force, and what can I even say about an album I rate so highly? It ripped the heads off everyone who heard it. And it’s still doing the same thing now.
With thrash, the important thing is riffs – how many of them you have, how good they are and how long you can keep up the high speed tempos and aggression and not end up boring the listener. Onslaught rules at this because they chug out 7 long, long epics of thrashing intensity that NEVER get boring. I mean it; every one of these songs just keeps going and going, with the band extremely generous about their riffs – they just keep chucking them at you like they’re a dime a dozen, and they’re ALL FUCKING AWESOME. EVERY ONE OF THEM. They interweave them with tons of excellent traditional metal styled leads as well, and the hooks are so good they’ll stick in your head for weeks. Guitarists Jason Stellard and Nige Rockett have a real feel for metal riffing, and it’s really commendable exactly how well they keep up the momentum here with all kinds of different tempo changes, different riffs and thrash breaks they can cram into even just one song.
Vocalist Sy Keeler is a real find, as he has a gritty, tuneful half-growl that sounds good enough on its own, but he also goes into this awesome, demonic high pitched scream for a lot of these vocal lines that makes him sound all the more raw and unhinged. He’s a beast of a vocalist and I wish more thrash singers sounded like him. Every vocal line, every chorus and every hook sounds like it was forged with a red hot anvil that was also possessed by the fucking Devil. In fact, you could say the same thing about everything on here. The rhythm section is awesome, too; they pound away like a bunch of hellions fresh up from the netherworld. Especially Steve Grice on the drums – such animal fury, such primal, unleashed insanity! Just check out any given song on here and the performances will be through the roof with energy and power.
The songwriting itself is just a monument to all that is good about heavy metal in its purest form. These tunes are epic, triumphant and mighty slabs of thrashing, slaying steel that aim to take your head clean off. And each tune is also meticulously constructed, too. Check out the tolling bell intro of “Flame of the Antichrist,” which explodes into a cacophony of frenzied riffing and low, possessed-sounding vocals that you won’t be able to deny is completely fucking great. Or the complex, pulsating riff patterns of “Fight with the Beast,” the crazed opening barrage of “Let There Be Death,” which is not so much a song title as a willful command by the band, or the more traditional pounders “Metal Forces” and “Contract in Blood”…there are no bad songs. Every single damn one is a standout. This is perfection in thrash.
When I listen to this album, I can’t help but feel totally overwhelmed by this otherworldly, satanic force of nature that is only really describable as pure, undiluted HEAVY METAL. This is it, people; like I said. This is the thrash album I have always wanted to hear, right in the flesh. Catchier than early Kreator and Sodom, better songwriting than early Slayer and more visceral and aggressive than Metallica or Megadeth, this just hits all the right sweet spots for what makes this genre awesome. I’m not going to get all highbrow and claim this is the best thrash album ever – for all I know, I could eventually discover one superior, tomorrow or next year. But this is what I think is perfect in thrash; a representation of the genre that has no flaws at all. And plus, can you really deny this much crushing, maniacal METAL? I don’t fucking think so. Go get this if by some twist of fate you don’t already have it. Mandatory for anyone who likes the genre at all.
Xeogred on June 6th, 2008
An Onslaught of riffs!! Hehe...
Alright, that's a cheesy title but whatever. I think that's literally a perfect way to describe this album, The Force is practically nothing but a constant wall of chaotic riffs. This is definitely one of my favorite thrash albums, I've had it since November 07' and since then whenever I'm in the mood for some thrash, this is typically one of those albums that comes to mind instantly.
I think my favorite part about this album is perhaps it's sound, or maybe it's just safe to say it's just pretty damn original. I can never really think of a lot of other bands that sound quite like this, Artillery comes to mind fairly often and maybe Ulysses Siren (also some similarities with the vocals between these bands) but other than that not a whole lot comes to mind, maybe a few dabs of Exumer can be uncovered too. Oh and wow, does Sy Keeler kick a lot of ass here on vocals. He dominates the former and more generic Paul Mahoney off their debut (whom took up the bass work here) and tramples over Steve Grimmett since Keeler actually sounds in place here, though it's a little disappointing his talent has dwindled a bit and he just didn't sound as great on their comeback album Killing Peace, alas we're talking about The Force here. He's got this weird ghoul/orc-ish snarl to his singing and there's quite a bit of evil screaming here. High pitched stuff but it honestly doesn't sound out of place. He's a huge highlight here.
Anyways, Onslaught's sound and style here is definitely pretty atypical to what a lot of thrash was doing at the time, could be the rare occurrence of them being a thrash band from the UK, but who knows. Their debut was certainly very Venom-ish but with The Force here they got everything right and pretty much crafted their own formula. I'd never compare this to a lot of Bay-Area thrash bands and it'd be a little out of place thrown in with the more brutal stuff, they kind of sit in the middle of the road between these two sides of thrash. It's constantly fast and downright heavy while staying within the thrash realm, if that makes any sense. The production isn't quite as good as some of the higher end stuff from 86' but I think if they tinkered with it just a tiny bit a lot of the magic and atmosphere would be totally lost. Everything is really rough, sometimes sounding a little close together but you can still hear everyone just fine, Keeler's vocals are always out in the clear, it just all sounds really thick and that gives it an excellent dark vibe.
Honestly I think this could be one of those albums that requires a few spins to really sink in, I think that was the case for me personally at first. I loved it but it was hard to remember specific tracks for awhile. Regardless it's seriously one of those albums that you can easily find yourself getting lost in. Basically, let's say you just want to listen to a single track real quick and move unto something else, well don't be surprised if it's 30 minutes later or so and you find yourself saying "Whoa, I was listening to this for that long?". The songs are pretty long and there might be some repetitive moments here and there, but the album in its full entirety is incredibly consistent and always interesting, everytime I go back to it (again, very often!). Let There Be Death is a definite highlight right off the bat and ends up being one of those tracks you'll probably remember first. Right away you're treated to its gritty, thick, and heavy production with a near two minute intro that explodes into a chain reaction of riffs, thus the anticipation is easily fulfilled by the drawn out buildup and doesn't fail to deliver. Metal Forces actually slows things down a tiny bit but still stands out a lot, with Keeler usually marching in the front here. He's got some crazy screams on this one and you'll remember that catchy (obvious) chorus, "Metal Forces!" Fight With The Beast speeds things up again and showcases the bands excellent balance, the music and vocals flow along perfectly on this one. I think Flame Of The Antichrist manages to do the same thing incredibly well.
There's no jacking around with The Force, at the start you'll find yourself falling into a hellish pit of constant mere endless headbanging thrash and there's pretty much no exit in sight. Just check out that title for the last track, Thrash Till' The Death, they aren't kidding and that's exactly what you'll get here. Invincible consistency. If you want some tougher thrash that differs a bit from the norm, this is highly recommended. Thrash classic in my book.
Sargon_The_Terrible on March 9th, 2008
Satanic Thrash From Hell
I never really got why people bitched about Onslaught's third album In Search Of Sanity until I heard the total thrashing insanity of this one, their second and best by far. And it makes me wonder: what in the fuck did PolyGram think they were getting when they signed this band? Quiet Riot? Seriously, what coke-fizzled record exec heard this and thought it could ever be made even remotely radio-friendly without completely retooling it?
Well, that's what they had to do, because The Force is seven long tracks of balls-out, pedal-down, hammers-up, throw-the-fucking-horns Satanic Thrash from Hell. Think Show No Mercy crossbred with In The Sign Of Evil and Black Metal and you're in the right neighborhood. If you are not flailing your head like an idiot halfway through "Let There Be Death" then you are just fucked up. And there are no dead spots on this disc, right through "Metal Forces", the awesome "Fight With The Beast" and the terrific "Flame Of The Antichrist". No bad riffs, no boring parts, no fucking ballads, just pure steel ownage. Oh, and no clean vocals either. Sy Keeler is no Steve Grimmet, no, he sounds like Cronos ate Tom Araya alive and is spewing him back out.
This came out the same years as Slayer's mighty Reign In Blood, and of the two, I think I have to give the edge to The Force, because it's just as good, and almost twice as long. Who cares if Onslaught sold out later? They left us this before they went: a blood-encrusted sacrificial dagger stabbed right into the heart of false fucking metal. The Force rules.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
Gutterscream on January 25th, 2007
The Force is luckily stronger than the Power
“…the fires are burning deep down in hell, the warlords are ready to rise…”
Having been somewhat hard on their debut and always hoping a band improves their wares if only to give me something else enjoyable to listen to, I looked upon The Force with three hopes in mind: 1) with their inaugural release out of the way, the band troubled less over their image and dipped into the songwriting till with more than a Dixie Cup, 2) the vocal dues changed hands, changed lanes, changed underwear, or just changed something about them, and 3) that too much of PFH’s production’s bulky, stomach-rumbling gruel hadn’t been wiped away.
Hey look, Paul Mahoney dropped out of the dual role spotlight. Yeah, perhaps the band had seen the error of his verbally pedestrian ways or he just didn’t feel like flinging their average lyrics around anymore, but either way the beige-voiced bassist surrendered his shoes to the fandangle of Sy Keeler, a voxman with some (i.e. more) charismatic demand, a frontman bitter and frothy enough to sound leathery tough, yet is often lyrically legible, and with a bevy of second (well, maybe third) tier Araya-ish wails doubles Mahoney’s range. Actually, Keeler can be found careening into semi-soprano territory quite a bit - sometimes clean, sometimes raggedly screeched in a distant vein of Artillery’s Flemming Ronsdorf on the song “Terror Squad”, and of course is hardly confusable with the squeaky gleam of the pre-’84 days.
With a face full of “Let There be Death” this seven-songer charges, easily one of their best that, in lieu of their inky but rather blanched debut, finally coerces songwriting clarity to gel with deadly thrash force. While not as murky or bottom-heavy, The Force’s production, knobbed by Roy Rowland over at Terminal Studios, actually proves exceptionally stringent in its still unadulterated yet more serrated din, and along with the album’s initial gale instigates mongers like “Fight With the Beast”, “Thrash till the Death”, and gong n’ stratospheric synths-introed “Flame of the Antichrist” to flail like the shredders they are. Plus the band (or should I say lead guitarist Nige Rockett, who penned just about every molecule of this lp) has discovered realms slightly more intricate and melodious without venturing into the progressive. Linearly methodical “Demoniac”, mucho traditional “Metal Forces”, and the near end of “Contract in Blood” unfold evidence that (more) possible cues have been taken from Destruction (Infernal Overkill-era, not Eternal Devastation, considering the date), debut-time Kreator, perhaps wordless extravaganzas in the vein of Metallica’s “The Call of Ktulu”, and even traditionally-inspired groups like Helstar.
Things are a little better lyrically, still marching toward Hell Possessed-like, but with a little flair in their step now.
Not quite coincidentally, how the sound on these slabs war against each other is right in their titles. While the dirtier, overcast anti-drama of Power From Hell should indeed tread thigh-deep in the murk of the underworld, the songs on The Force grip a creative balance that remain very conscious of their baneful, grunt roots while snooping around a multi-planed stretch of land they’ve never seen in the yards of Venom or Seven Churches.
UltraBoris on January 6th, 2003
Now this is the stuff!
Here they REALLY tightened up their sound, with a much sharper-sounding riff assault that is pure fucking thrash metal. Overtly, it's Show no Mercy meets Hell Awaits, but then also it is Venom meets Destruction, with some of the main breaks sounding very much like Kreator at times, and the gradual thrash riff changes very much reminiscent of early Dark Angel.
Most of the songs on here are quite long, going into the 6 minute range, without becoming overlong. They cover many great riff ideas, and splice them together in such a way that the song remains interesting. A good example of this is the opening track, which has a great buildup intro, then a fast solo, then some verses, and this goes on for about four minutes, with what is a very decent thrash song. Then, we get an absolute fucking monster of a middle break - something not out of place on Coma of Souls, or perhaps even a Vio-lence album. Total fucking thrash metal!!! Then more riffwork... a lot of these songs feature a good 20-30 solid riffs!
Other highlights include the excellently thrashy Demoniac, with some really great shrieks and an otherwise Venom-esque vocal track. The vocals are far better on this album than the previous - this is a great improvement from Power from Hell. Nice midpaced thrash for the most part, with the occasional pretty damn fast part, but never losing focus on the sheer riffage.
Flame of the Antichrist is also very nice - probably the fastest song on here, as well as the longest, with some monster riffs thrown in for good measure - as is Contract in Blood, with its great riff under the verses. This is total Kreator here, and executed VERY well.
Overall, this is the definitive Onslaught album. Gone are the sloppy Venom-gone-boring ideas from the first album, and also not here is the overly slick production that plagued the third one. This one remains very fucking excellent from beginning to end.
The Force track list
|1||Let There Be Death||06:41|
|3||Fight with the Beast||06:01|
|5||Flame of the Antichrist||07:49|
|6||Contract in Blood||06:11|
|7||Thrash 'til the Death||04:40|
The Force lineup
|Jase Stallard||Guitars (rhythm)|
|Paul "Mo" Mahoney||Bass|
|Nige Rockett||Guitars (lead)|