The Force Revisited Tour @ Rebellion
Rebellion in Manchester is the perfect venue for a night of great British metal. It has a real grassroots feel, welcoming and intimate, a place you can be close to the bands and even share a beer with them. A perfect place to feel the beating heart and soul of the music we love and achieve an intimacy you can’t get from the giant soulless shed that is the Arena.
So here we are to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Onslaught’s The Force album which tonight will be played in full. But, before we can get over the initial shock of the passage of 30 years in what seems like five days, we have some splendid support to whet our appetites.
Ipswich band Anihilated have been at it since 1981 and they infuse the roots of thrash metal with a punk fury to deliver a set of politically charged mayhem via some glorious riffage. Founder members Si and Bod supply the pounding rhythm section, with Si also supplying vocals. With addictive and killing riffs throughout, this feels like true metal and punk crossover filth as they showcase tracks culled from latest release Anti Social Engineering as well as earlier material including We Are Legion - dedicated to the power of a unity in society and amongst metal fans. Stunning stuff. Make sure you arrive early to check these guys out or better still catch them as headliners. Hope we see them again soon.
Towering front man Simon Hall describes Beholder as the ‘token none thrash band’ on the tour at one point but their slab-dragging heavy sludge is no less welcome. An obvious slowing of the pace following the previous band comes as a slight shock to the assembled but we soon settle into the heavy groove of things. And a heavy groove it is too. Scott Taylor is the lone guitarist spewing forth the riffs and melodies, which are both chewy and tasty. Add this to the brutal bottom-end support of Si Fielding’s bass and you have something that is devastating to the ears. All this is held together by the superglue of Chris Bentley’s monster drumming. Weaving through this viscous storm are Hall’s impressive vocals that spew politically charged vitriol in our faces, urging, no, threatening the audience into movement. Anyone new to Beholder have just witnessed a set of ‘fuck-you’ British metal and will surely leave as new fans. If you need any more convincing then check out their latest LP Reflections and for fuck’s sake don’t miss them live. This is intense stuff but it will make you move and bang your head. Trust me.
And so it’s time for the onslaught of, well, Onslaught. 30 years have gone by since 86’s thrash classic The Force made it’s mark on British metal and tonight, in celebration, we are to be treated to the album in full. Kicking in with Nige Rockett’s buzzsaw guitar sound on Let There Be Death the pace stays frenetic and energetic till the dying strains of Thrash Till the Death. Sy Keeler is a powerful presence up front, hitting those trademark screams and prowling the front in menacing style. Mic Hourihan behind the kit hits a hard, fast rhythm to bolster the bass of the hyperactive Jeff Williams who is constantly involved with the fans. This is close quarters thrash warfare at it’s finest - the audience up front are close enough to fist-bump the band which they do enthusiastically and there’s a connection there that larger venues just cannot offer.
Onslaught are on killing form tonight and as well as The Force in full they rage through some murderous and anthemic tunes cherry-picked from some of the finest moments in their history. The riff to Sounds of Violence is one of the greatest ever written and savage cuts like 66Fucking6 rip Manchester a new arsehole tonight. Throw in a lovely tribute to the late, great Lemmy with a furious cover of Motorhead classic Bomber and you have a winning heavy metal lottery ticket right there in your sweaty hands and busted up ear drums.
Tonight Rebellion was slayed by the Full Force of one of Britain’s finest and if you weren’t there then you missed out on an absolutely awesome display. Onslaught are a true power from hell and with support bands of incredible quality too, make sure that when any of these fuckers arrive in our fair city again you drag your lazy arses out of the house and get in the pit.
Words: Paul Cooke