|Onslaught / Lifer / This System Kills / Fell On Black Days – Abertillery, Playfest - 24th July 2009|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Sunday, 26 July 2009 20:51|
If someone had told me twenty years ago that I would one day be watching the UK’s premier thrash band Onslaught in my home town, I would have called that person delusional.
Kudos indeed then to Damnation Promotions for not only securing Onslaught, on a night off from promoting their 'Live Damnation' album with Testament, but for putting such a strong bill together for the measly entrance fee of £5.
Fell On Black Days are certainly made of hardy stock coming from the industrial wasteland that once was Ebbw Vale. Their set of brutal heavy metal sat somewhere between Hatebreed and Machine Head and the nodding heads in attendance were quick to raise their horns in appreciation. One punter did jest to me during the tune 'Tooth And Nail', "Is this a Dokken cover?" Ummm, no.
This System Kills, on the other hand, were the night’s true rock 'n' roll rebels. Birthed from the scene that first gave us the original Onslaught, this four piece fronted by the hardcore scene legend Pig (or the Welsh Onion as he lovingly refers to himself) have been delivering socially aware hardcore punk in one band or another for about as long as I can remember. Somewhat subdued and minus his drinking bucket, Pig and the System lads were content to win over new fans ahead of what will no doubt be a devastating set at the upcoming Slugfest 2 event this August.
Lifer are something of a surprise package, and not unlike one of those boxes that contain a boxing glove on a spring. I’ve been aware of their existence since I bumped into singer Scriv during a Tiamat show some two years ago. But the band that erupted on the stage was a whole new beast, ripping throats for pleasure with their own blend of stoner-tinged heavy metal. 'Raging Waters' is the stand out track for me, which takes the band into a whole new division, and there were times during their set where I kept thinking "Jesus, these guys are going to be huge". Top draw "real deal" metal from a band I’ll be looking forward to savouring a few more times over the coming months.
Onslaught were never meant to sound muted, and thankfully the spectre of the previous night's sound gremlins were immediately exorcised. Lead track 'Killing Peace' sounding like the most brutal a feast of metal you're likely to set your teeth into this side of a Cannibal Holocaust, and didn’t the band just know it, exuding a self confidence you can but envy as mere mortals. Where do you start when every track is a bona fide underground classic of the genre? Well for your entry money the older skin/bald heads got classics like 'Let There Be Death' and 'Metal Forces' and for the next generation of surfing shorts wearers you had the relentless riffage of 'Destroyer Of Worlds' which has to be heard live to fully comprehend its truly awesome rifferama and the catchy as swine flu "I Die You Die" chorus.
The core trio of Sy Keelar, Nige Rockett (complete with Discharge t-shirt) and Steve Grice have certainly found their perfect partners in thrash in the Welsh duo of Andy Rosser Davies and Jeff Williams. And, in the superb set-closing coupling of new and old in 'Burn' and 'Power From Hell', Onslaught had the perfect weapon to defeat all musical enemies.
A night of classic punk and true heavy metal in the heart of the Welsh valleys, and I bet you thought we all stayed at home listening to the Stereophonics at weekends…Yeah right!!!