Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016 Chronicles up next:
This is by no means a detailed account of our days spent with the iconic band Onslaught. In fact this merely scratches the surface of the wealth of information, advice, experience and friendship we have built with the band’s members.
For those of you who dare not know Onslaught, this is one of the pioneers of British Thrash Metal, formed in 1982. While the world is much aware of the Big Four and the American Thrash bands, and in fact Thrash is known to be an American genre, Onslaught, like most British Thrash bands, has remained underrated, despite being a highly respected band in the realm of Thrash metal and among its fans. They released their first album "Power From Hell", in 1985 followed by “The Force” in 1986. "The Force" became one of Thrash Metal’s classic albums, most probably one of the few outside the American arena. It is this album's 30th anniversary that Onslaught set out to celebrate by touring the world in 2016 (and of which we supported the European leg during the Thrash Mercenaries Tour 2016)
It took three years to follow up on "The Force", and here, ladies and gentlemen, is an epic example of how the music industry can destroy a band. Because of the success of "The Force", Onslaught was signed to London Records, a major semi-independent label at the time and one of the biggest in the UK. The label decided that the band needed a new vocalist, and despite the band having another opinion, they changed the frontman and made the sound much more polished. “They [London Records] wanted a British version of Metallica” said Sy Keeler to our frontman. Subsequently the follow up record was much different from the first two, especially "The Force", and fans were disappointed, which led to poor sales that contrasted greatly with the intense pre-release publicity the label had given the record. Poor sales led the label to drop the band, leaving them without a contract, after ruining their career. Eventually this also led to the band's break-up in 1990, a classic example, again, of how clueless music industry people can destroy a very successful band.
The band reunited in 2005, and later released the highly acclaimed “Killing Peace” (2007) album, followed by “Sound Of Violence” (2011) and their latest “VI” (2013). Refusing to be a nostalgic band, these releases have defied the limitation of the Thrash genre, and have been classified by many as the benchmark of “Modern Thrash”.
During our 16 days of debauchery with Onsalught on tour, we met these kind gentlemen:
Rockett: Apart from being the mastermind behind Onslaught, as a main composer and lyricist and Rhythm Guitarist, Nige is a quiet fellow, maybe quiet is an understatement! More accurately, Nige is a mystery, yet a pleasant one. He keeps to himself most of the time, but would never refuse a conversation. He’s extremely supportive and a pure soul.
: We’d expected the monstrous voice of Onslaught to be an angry, threatening figure of a person. But other than the fact that he is very tall and very well built, Mr. Sy is just a sweetheart. WHAT? Can’t a metal god be a sweetheart?! At age 54, his voice is incredible, from guttery devilish growls to high pitches, Sy's got it all. His knowledge of music is vast, in all senses of the word. His sense of caring about everyone around and urge to help, his calm and soothing presence, and his eternal smile make you feel a deep yet unexpected sense of serenity.
Jeff Williams: THANK GOD FOR JEFF. This is what we can say about this incredible person. Jeff joined Onslaught as Heavy Armoured Infantry (Bass Guitar) in 2006. Jeff kept the tour fun at all times, from endless (and sometimes embarrassing) challenges that he would set us up to do on stage, to the sheer fun and laughter that we had. He was the first to listen to Blaakyum’s album in its entirety and give us critical feedback. Jeff was there for us all along, watching our every show every single night, and guiding us towards showmanship. Jeff is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to music industry and band management know-how. His feedback and guidance were essential for Blaakyum and in fact, transformed us from a local act to something much better. It is because of Jeff that this tour went from a lot of fun to tons of fun!! And we are up for the next challenge mate.
Mike Hourihan: Mike is Onslaught’s Artillery commander-in-chief (Drummer). His drumming prowess made him sought after by many bands, and he is currently performing with two other bands: Desecration, and Extreme Noise Terror. Mike is an incredible and relentless drummer, which is evident; what is not evident, is that he has a degree in Astrophysics!!!! FUCK, what a blow to the stereotype image of a Metal rock star!! Aren’t Metalheads and Metal Musicians supposed to be marginal illiterate idiots (nudge nudge Middle Eastern society)!? What a sad day for social conformists.
Iain 'GT' Davies
: Iain is the newest and the youngest member of Onslaught. Taking over the Lead Guitar role, Iain joined Onslaught in 2015, though most probably Iain has been around before then, as when we were watching Onslaught’s DVD “Live at the Slaughterhouse”, Iain makes a brief few seconds appearance in the documentary that was filmed in 2014. Iain can be usually found in the backstage areas strapped to his tablet, learning and learning whatever he can, and practicing on his machinegun (Guitar). He is tons of fun on stage, and when we shared the stage with Onslaught, Iain and Rabih were usually spotted cracking facial jokes and messing around!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is as we said just the tip of the iceberg of what it was like to be around the almighty Onslaught. This has been a great privilege for Blaakyum, and will probably remain one of the biggest highlights of our career.