Onslaught 06/02/2011

ONSLAUGHT is an English thrash metal band from Bristol, England. Initially they were active from 1983 to 1991, and the band reformed in 2004. The band initially drew influence from the second wave punk rock bands such as Discharge and The Exploited, and then adopted a straight forward thrash metal sound.


ONSLAUGHT’s albums from the eighties, ‘Power From Hell’ (1985) and ‘The Force’ (1986) have a well deserved place in the collection of any old school Metal fanatic and the British quintet continues to release quality Thrash records. After being disbanded in 1991, the band returned in 2007 with ‘Killing Peace’, the musical equivalent of being hit in the teeth with a sledgehammer, featured the high speed Thrash the band is notorious for, combined with crushing mid tempo tracks, with Keeler soaring on top of that more powerful than ever, and was a fist in the face of anyone who deemed the Brits dead.


On january 28, the U.K. thrash metal veterans ONSLAUGHT released their fifth studio album, “Sounds Of Violence” , through AFM Records. The album includes a cover version of the Motörhead classic "Bomber". The follow-up to 2007's "Killing Peace", was recorded and mixed at Hansen Studio in Ribe, Denmark with acclaimed Danish producer Jacob Hansen (Raunchy, Mercenary, Volbeat, Heaven Shall Burn).



In order to get to know all about their latest album we tracked down Nige Rockett (Guitar) to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com.


First of all, congrats with your new album, how are you doing?

Nige: Hi Eugene, I’m doing good thanks, how are you my friend? Of course I am very aware of Metal-Experience and thank you for the interview

s been four years since your comeback album Killing Peace came out, so it seems you took your time to create the new record. How did you launch into writing material for Sounds Of Violence and how much time did you spend on the songs?

Nige: Yeah, it's been a long time but we sure havent been lazy in fact the demand for live shows since the release of ‘Killing Peace’ has been amazing and this is the main reason for the long delay  We love playing live so much, we find it impossible to say no to a cool show offer haha.. but at the start of 2010 we agreed we had to draw a small line in the sand just to make sure we finished writing this new album in time for the 2011 release

The actual song writing process was pretty fast, what we did take our time for was the final pre-production of the songs before recording. We demoed every song and fine tuned everything down to the last drum beat before we entered the studio, we wanted to know these songs inside out so we could deliver maximum energy into the recordings..


Which approach did you choose to make this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?

Nige: We wanted this album to sound raw / very live & modern but with an Old School vibe and attitude, so a kind of different approach to previous releases I guess.. It was so important for Onslaught to make a record that was heavily aggressive and very strong for the 2011 world of metal music, theres a lot of competition out there right now and we wanna be competing with the best.


Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

Nige: Luckily for us the ideas did come kinda easy, which was cool, we always felt real confident and creative while making the SOV album but at the same time we also took a great deal of care with the compositions The arrangements were worked on constantly until the song flow was as smooth as possible and then everything was placed around the structures accordingly



How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Onslaught?

Nige: 90% of the new songs were written by myself and Andy in our studio.. It was a real good way of working because we could record everything as we wrote it, that way we immediately knew if the parts worked or not We used drum programmes for writing which really helped. 


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record Sounds Of Violence, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?

Nige: The first thing we had in mind when making SOV was that it had to be the best Onslaught album so far, we didn’t want it to be 2nd best to ‘The Force or Killing Peace’, we could have never been happy with that..

We said from the outset that the album needed to be very aggressive and very heavy, that was the initial template, also with a lot of variation… Onslaught is a band that appeals to Death / Black metal fans aswell as Thrashers and that is something that is very important to us, so we are always aware of this when writing new material… We are real lucky to have quite a wide spectrum..


Could you please describe the implications of the title Sounds Of Violence, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?


Nige: ‘Sounds of Violence’ is all about true and brutal events throughout history….

I wanted to make a very dark, thought-provoking album to paint a very violent picture.. Violence is real, violence is extreme, violence is a part of everyday life….!!! It was a deep journey for me writing these lyrics, I did a lot of research and discovered some amazing and scary shit….


Of course the main themes of the songs are clear, but where do you get your inspiration from? Can you tell me something more about the lyrics, are there any stories behind them?

Nige: My one and only lyrical inspiration for SOV was true life.. This world has always been a potentially violent place to live in and it always will be.. There is always gonna be some fucking maniac out there that wants to cause death, mayhem and destruction….


 Ill give you a brief breakdown of the album track by track.


“Born For War” is about child soldiers, you see these kids on the TV news, like 6 years old holding an AK47, they know nothing of life, only the realities of war  and many are dead before they are 10


The Sound Of Violence” Onslaught are friends with a Battallion of troops fighting the war in Afghanistan (Their combat call sign is named after the band) We talk with these guys regularly and they tell us all the stories of what goes on at the frontline.. This song is about the view of war through a soldier’s eyes…


“Godhead” is about an American religious cult which still exists and spreads its filth and corruption today..


“Rest In Pieces” details the actions of a very ruthless mass murderer, who killed and tortured countless people in the name of medical research


“Code Black”  the rise of an extreme & violent superpower


“Antitheist” is a very personal lyric to me about religion, my family and my upbringing through a religious childhood..


“Hatebox” my thoughts and observations of the atmosphere at an Onslaught show..


“Suicideology” The ultimate in violent sacrifice, taking one’s own life!!! I have known 2 people who have committed suicide and I can only imagine what was going throught their minds at the time, we will really never know, but I’m sure there are 2 voices talking in the mind, one saying ‘Do it‘ and the other trying to reason for life..…


How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?


Nige: It’s hugely important to me, I spend as much time on writing lyrics as I do writing the music, the lyrics are what gives you the visual effect in your head as you listen to the sound..


If someone was only going to read the lyrics and not listen to the music, what would you hope they would take from them?


Nige: I hope they would see the lyrics as nothing more than a brief lesson in the history of our violent world, it’s not pretty but it’s the stark truth of how inhumane the human race can be…


What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?


Nige: A great catchy riff first and foremost.. Thrash metal thrives on cool tunes, that’s what it’s all about.. Then comes the chorus for me, lots of vocal hooks are real important, people wanna sing along however extreme the vocals are…. You can still write brutally heavy music and make it memorable…


How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio?


Nige: We did things in a slighty unusual way this time around.. We recorded the real guitar parts first, to click tracks / programmed drums.. We programmed the drums with hugely aggressive beats and pushed the tempos up to the max so we were right on the edge for playing the riffs.. It really got the adrenaline pumping and made the final recorded guitar parts very intense and angry.. Then we layed down the drum tracks, Steve was now playing his parts to perfect brutal rhythm guitars so he had to match the intensity, he really had to raise his game this time around hahaha, which he really did… The rest was kinda straightforward with Jacob really pulling some cool performances out of Sy for the vocals, that was real cool to see… We don’t like to hang around in the studio, I think Killing Peace took 12 days and SOV took around 16 days, we learnt the old school way so all the new technology makes our studio life a walk in the park J


Whats the story behind the Motörhead cover you recorded with Phil Campbell and Tom Angelripper?


Nige: We just felt it was the right time for us to do another cover song, it’s been many years since we did one and it’s always a blast making it so we thought why not… I think Steve came up with the idea of doing a Motörhead track..


Wed been jamming away with “Bomber” in rehearsal and it was sounding pretty cool but not quite there if you know what I mean. It was missing that little spark, it had all the Onslaught Thrash attitude but it was missing the Motörhead vibe and we really wanted to do this justice.. So I sugggested we give Phil Campbell a call to see if he was up for putting down some guitars on our version, he really loved the idea.. As soon as Phil came into the studio and laid down that awesome riff everything fell into place, however much we played that tune we could not make it sound the way Phil did, it really gives it a MotörSlaught blend.


In regards to Tom Angelripper, we have become good friends with the Sodom guys after playing many festivals with them over the past 4 years and I thought Tom would sound great sharing the vocals with Sy I knew Sodom were in the studio making their new record so we gave him a call and Tom said get me the backing tracks over right now, I wanna do this and there it was made. it was real fun doing this “Bomber”  version and Im pretty sure fans of all 3 bands will find it cool



What do you think are the most typical differences between Onslaught anno 2011 and Onslaught back in the eighties?


Nige: Experience definitely, that counts for so much, we were only kids back then with so much to learn, very naïve, everything has gone up several levels for us, we‘ve improved as people and as musicians / songwriters and performers…. There’s so much more energy and anger in 2011 that we can channel into our music and live shows, it’s a totally different beast altogether..


The new album was produced by Jacob Hansen. In which elements on the new album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?

Nige: “Code Black”, purely for the vocal performance and delivery, I was totally amazed when I heard the finished result, Jacob got Sy to add many layers to certain parts ot give it a real dirty, evil tone, totally awesome..


To speak in general about the album, what impressed me about Jacob was the  way he has got everything so heavy and full of life but yet sounding so clear, that is a very clever and special Producer…


How would you describe this album to someone that has never listened to the band before?


Nige: That’s a tough one without blowing one’s own trumpet too much hahaha..

If I was trying to sell it to someone who has never heard of the band before I guess I would say: “SOV is an album that contains all the cool and crucial elements of Old School Thrash but with a real modern twist. There is an infusion of Death / Black metal elements running throughout the recording and blends perfectly to make an unmistakeably violent sound…It’s definitely an album for people who like their Thrash dark, aggressive and heavy..”


What do you think are the main differences between your previous album ‘Killing Peace and the new one Sounds Of Violence’?


Nige: SOV’ is much more technical I would say with lots more intricate arrangements on the drums and guitars.. I think the production / final mix really captures the band’s live energy in a much heavier way.. It sounds like a much more thought about and diverse album all round to me.


Which element of the CD are you most proud of?


Nige: It’s difficult to single out one thing, on a personal level the actual song writing is what I’m really stoked about, I put so much time and effort into this album and the end result for me is perfect.. This is the first time I have ever been totally happy with the finished album, from Music right through to the artwork…


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?


Nige: I’m a pretty extreme type person, everything I do I commit 110% to, I could not live with myself if I did anything with a half heart… I have very strong beliefs and I will fight tooth and nail to defend my philosophy even if I am wrong hahaha…


I take inspiration from many different things in life, positive / strong actions & characters are a huge motivation for me, the words I write are always very dynamic in their own way, I’m not one to write negative depressing words…


My 2 passions along with music are Football and travelling, whenever we are not touring, I am watching matches at every possible opportunity and luckily because of our music we get to travel so much with Onslaught… So I’m very happy with life right now, although my team need to win some more games J


Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:

Thrash : METAL..!!!!!

Underground : DARK

Internet : NECESSITY

Religion : HATE

Politics : BULLSHIT

The Netherlands : AMAZING

England : SUCKS



What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?


Nige: We are lucky enough to have had many many highlights in our career, we have been so fortunate to play so many amazing places and meet so many great people along the way, it really has been a rollercoaster ride for Onslaught and there’s no sign of it slowing down…


The low point definitely has to be the ‘In Search of Sanity’ period.. This was a time when we should have really pushed things forward and established the band in a big way, but a run of bad luck and some terrible decision making by the people around us completely destroyed the band… it is only now we feel we are laying these ghosts to rest.


What is your opinion on the thrash scene these days? Is there anything missing in the scene?


Nige: The Thrash scene right now is really very cool, most of the key original bands are still here and making great records and playing great shows… There’s a lot of life left in this genre as there is now a whole new generation of metal heads discovering these amazing bands… Nothing in the modern era of metal can compete with the monster that is Thrash Metal..!!! The Big 4 tour proves that without doubt…


Is there anything missing…? Hmmmn I can’t say we have anything to complain about right now, so things must be real good in the scene I guess.. It would be nice to see some new Thrash bands coming through but all the more recent bands just want to be Old school and that’s never gonna work when all the originators are still playing it from the heart & out there kicking asses hard..


What makes Onslaught different from the other heavy metal metal bands out there?


Nige: You like giving me tough questions Eugene, haha… I know we have quite a different attitude compared to many bands out there, not all of them of course but a lot of bands.. We always make huge efforts to meet and hang out with the fans whatever the circumstances after the shows, wherever we are in the world.. This is real important to us… Egos aren’t allowed in or around this band, if one should ever appear it will get shot down hahaha…


Which goals did you have when the band started out and how do those goals stand now?


Nige: We have never been a band to set ourselves goals and targets, that can only lead to disappointment if things don’t go to plan… Obviously we wanted to get signed to a label at the beginning and make records but that was as far as we ever thought ahead… And that philosophy still remains today for Onslaught.. We just take things as they come and see what the next day brings…

What can we expect from Onslaught in the near future? Any touring plans?


Nige: Well I’m sure the next 2 years are gonna be real busy in support of the SOV album… For the immediate future, Firstly we are gonna be heading out on tour in Europe for a month during April, taking in all the northern territories before  starting on the European festival season….


We’re also going back to Japan and South America this year, going to Russia for the first time and then a more extensive Euro tour later in 2011... Writing will begin for the 6th studio album in any down time we have so that there is not another 4 year wait between albums, haha, will I get any time to watch Football this year…???? hmmmn


A last statement?


Nige: I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all our fans and press that have been so supportive of Onslaught throughout the years and especially since 2005, it’s been an amazing time.. We hope you all massively enjoy the new record and we’ll see you all very soon on the Road to Violence…!!!


Nige Rockett




Current members:

Sy Keeler - Vocals

Andy Rosser-Davies - Guitar

Jeff Williams - Bass

Steve Grice - Drums

Nige Rockett - Guitar


Former members:

Jase Pope - Vocals

Paul Hill - Bass

Roge Davies - Vocals

Paul Davis - Bass

Paul Mahoney – Vocals, Bass

Jase Stallard - Bass, Guitar

James Hinder - Bass

Rob Trotman - Guitar

Steve Grimmett - Vocals

Tony O'Hora - Vocals

Alan Jordan - Guitar


Studio albums:

1985 - Power From Hell

1986 - The Force

1989 - In Search of Sanity

2007 - Killing Peace

2011 - Sounds Of Violence