Onslaught was put together by Bristol, England, guitarist Nige Rockettand drummer Steve Grice in the early '80s. The two musicians were working to forge an ultra-aggressive, speedy metal sound that was becoming more and more popular in the days of early Slayer and Metallica. In 1985, the duo were joined by bass player Jase Stallard and vocalist Paul Mahoney. The quartet quickly worked up enough material for a record and later that year, the debut Power From Hell was recorded and released on U.K. independent record label Cor. A forceful, if not entirely professional sounding effort, 1985's Power From Hell along with Slayer's Hell Awaits are among the better speed metal offerings of the year. The 1986 follow-up The Force was an even stronger effort released originally on the much larger Music for Nations imprint Under One Flag. In a bit of an odd lineup change, Stallard switched instrumental duties by becoming the group's second guitarist, and new vocalist Sy Keeler replaced Mahoney who took over Stallard's vacated bass duties. A more competent recording, The Force sounded better than the group's debut and maintained many of the Slayer-like thrash sensibilities. New bassist James Hinder replaced Mahoney as the ex-singer who was finally demoted out of the ranks of Onslaught. As a serious following for the band began to emerge, they were eventually signed to Polydor imprint London Records. After recruiting former Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett and guitarist Rob Trotman (replacing Stallard) into the band, the first major-label effort for Onslaught, In Search of Sanity, was released on London in 1989. While their previous recordings sported an extremely hard edge and an almost death metal stance, In Search of Sanity moved the group's sound into some pretty standard metal territory. While a technically superior recording, Grimmett added little personality and the group's interesting hardcore roots substantially faded on this release. Perhaps due to the huge delay between releases, and the curious move toward a relatively mainstream musical approach, In Search of Sanity was a critical and commercial failure for the thrash veterans. Grimmett left the group in 1990 to form Lionsheart and the band was dropped by their record label. Tony O'Hara signed as vocalist for the band, but Onslaught never recorded anything after In Search of Sanity and they eventually disbanded in 1991. With only three releases over an eight-year career, and with several questionable lineup changes, Onslaught were an interesting early speed metal outfit that lost their direction. When compared to the musical singularity and relatively stable memberships of their early career musical contemporaries, it's easy to see why Onslaught never had anything near the impact of Slayer or Metallica. ~ Vincent Jeffries

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