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By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 @ 3:43 PM

Sick Sick Fucking Sick! Legendary UK Thrashers ONSLAUGHT and Danish Thrashers ARTILLERY Give Ottawa A Proper Metal Fisting, Mavericks, Ottawa, Canada, November 8, 2014

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Let it never be said that metal bands are not the most versatile lot when it comes to committing themselves to long stints on the road, then faced with adversity even before the first show is about to be played. Especially in the case of two well-renowned thrash bands whose careers have spanned close to three decades yet the bulk of their success have been relegated to their native Europe. This tour, dubbed the Thrash Invasion, would change their standings on this side of the pond albeit not without its fair share of controversy.

But first, before the headliners take the stage, openers VX36 would like a bit of your time. The California-based metallers, having arrived to fill in a vacant slot left for reasons unknown by STRIKER at the last minute, got a decent reception from the crowd which was not too surprising considering how relatively unheard of they are save for their breakthrough album A Violent Existance from late 2012. The album itself featured a proper mix of thrash, speed and even a few elements of old school death metal played with a healthy balance of raw grit and polished precision. Maybe you've already heard it all before from many of their past and current contemporaries but rather than strive for acceptance for finding a new way to reinvent the wheel, VX36 prefer instead to let their live show be their mouthpiece. With their catalogue of high-energy tracks such as "Satans Fury", "Blood War", "Resist" and "The Storm" the hairy and heavy trio whip the crowd out of indifference into an instant moshing frenzy. Those 600-plus shows they've done across the US over their decade of existance definitely paid off well for a band whose moniker resembles someone's score on Scrabble.


Following after VX36's impressive debut would be legendary Danish thrashers ARTILLERY whose career has transcended a good 30 years or so barring the odd 6-7 year break every now and then. That's not to say they don't always keep busy as they've got seven full-length studio albums to their credit, their most recent being 2013's Legions which, much like their previous body of work, evokes the high-energy solid thrash sounds of the likes of SABBAT and CORONER, with even a hint of early KREATOR in parts. They've toured North America before (this being their third tour) but haven't hit many of the other markets as they would like to have hoped to have done before, often due to the sporadic periods of inactivity and post-band side projects. But once they've become creatively rejuvenated, ARTILLERY are, well, fully stocked. Their live shows back up their claim. The current line-up of frontman Michael Bastholm Dahl, guitarists/siblings Michael and Morgen Stutzer, bassist Peter Thorslund and drummer Josua Madsen open their intense set with their latest thrash anthem "Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)" and the rest of their show never lets up. The setlist is largely dominated by classic hair-whipping speed metal melodies such as "The Eternal War", "Terror Squad" and "The Almighty" among others but newer songs such as "Khomaniac" and "When Death Comes" fit in well as they carry on the rapid-fire twin riffs of the Stutzer brothers and Dahl's voracious vocals. Their first Ottawa visit having gone successfully well, many of us are hoping that ARTILLERY's next visit will be on target in the near future.


When it comes to extremly much-awaited appearances for many of the bands on the Thrash Invasion tour, probably no band's appearance was more highly anticipated than that of legendary UK punk thrashers ONSLAUGHT as they took to the stage with the blistering opener "Killing Peace". And for many diehard fans who had been following news about this tour coming together, there was at one point concerns if they would even make the tour at all. Due to a sudden family emergnecy, original frontman Sy Keeler was forced to take a leave of absence; in his place, the band found his temporary replacement for the tour in the form of Neil Turbin (ex-ANTHRAX, DEATHRIDERS). The decision for ONSLAUGHT to carry on with the tour with a frontman whose career zenith peaked on the first two ANTHRAX albums Fistful Of Metal and Spreading The Disease three decades ago didn't sit very well with many fans at first (and, ultimately, even ONSLAUGHT themselves would also come to that same conclusion following the end of the tour). However, when you're in a band whose debut album is titled Power From Hell and have weathered many accusations of promoting Satanism in your music, you tend to be very prone to fulfilling tenacious feats of adversity in the face of chaos. So what's one minor detail such as having to replace your frontman a month before a big overseas tour anyway?

Well....perhaps for starters, the absence of a few choice songs from the setlist would be of some concern for many fans due to Neil Turbin only having a limited amount of time to learn ONSLAUGHT's entire catalogue in time for the first show. So if you were expecting "Lightning War" and "In Search Of Sanity" getting some stage time, that would not happen. But the equally fast-and-furious classics such as "Fight With The Beast", "Metal Forces" and "Power From Hell" still fired up a savage circle pit - and that's excluding "Lightning War". Also, with the short time frame of learning the material, sometimes forgetting the lyrics would be inevitable no matter how frequently you try to avoid that scenario, but rather than show it, maybe show the words via a small Teleprompter on the mic stand. It's somewhat cheating to be honest and it has a bit of a hokey karaoke flair to it, not to mention that ONSLAUGHT aren't what you'd call a karaoke-style band. "DIE!/DIE!/Total Blitzkreig" ain't exactly "Don't Stop Believin'" after all and understandably, that, to the diehard fans, was really missing the point about what ONSLAUGHT's music stood for. Speaking of standing, Turbin did waaaaayyyyyy too much of that during his performance and even seemed to recoil from getting too close to the rest of the band as if they hadn't showered in the past month. I've seen more livelier stage presence from performers almost three times his age like BB King and Keith Richards. Seriously, moving a couple of feet to the front of the stage every now and then wouldn't have hurt.

Besides that, however, ONSLAUGHT and Neil Turbin still put on an entertaining performance for many fans who were grateful the band still honored their commitment to the tour. Turbin can still reach a good high octave from his Fistful Of Metal days when he pushes himself on songs like "Chaos Is King" and the epic "Six Six Fucking Six". And even with Turbin's approach to the aforementioned classics being different to his predecessor (and even to the untrained ear of this reviewer who's only seeing ONSLAUGHT for the first time ever thus being none the wiser on how the song sounded live), the band were in top form. Guitarists Nige Rockett and Andy Rosser-Davies's traded riff work on pretty much every song remains so criminally overlooked it's not even funny. Bassist Jeff Williams dropped some of the most sickest quadruple string riffs I've seen since maybe Steve Harris. And Michael Hourihan showcased his hardened in-step from hell particulary on the foot pedal on "Six Six Fucking Six". If there had been many doubts about how ONSLAUGHT fared at their first Ottawa performance they were pretty reserved as hardly anyone I came across felt that their show was anything less without Sy Keeler at the helm. For many, it was just having experienced ONSLAUGHT playing in Ottawa for the first time that was worth the ticket price alone. And even the band members themselves felt relaxed after getting a proper response.

For a brief moment on this tumultuous tour, their search for sanity really did yield some good leads.



  • "Killing Peace"
  • "Chaos Is King"
  • "The Sound Of Violence"
  • "Let There Be Death"
  • "Children Of The Sand"
  • "Rest In Pieces"
  • "66 Fucking 6"
  • "Fight With The Beast"
  • "Metal Forces"
  • "Power From Hell"
  • "Thermonuclear Devastation"

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