In the beginning...
Onslaught was formed in 1983 by Bristol punk rockers Nige Rockett (guitar) and Steve Grice (drums), who worked together at a local printing company. Joined by Jase Pope (vocals) and Paul Hill (bass), the band began rehearsals, creating tunes in a style influenced heavily by the second generation of punk bands such as Discharge, The Exploited and GBH. Hardcore in nature, the music was simple and nihilistic, picking up on the disaffected zeitgeist. The band's earliest live performances hail from around this time and are the subject of some conjecture, although perceived wisdom records the band's first official gig at the Summit club in Kingswood, Bristol in late 1983. The original line up recorded only a single demo at Sam studios in Bristol and featured tracks such as Rape, Overthrow the System, and the very first rendition of Thermonuclear Devastation.
Personal issues saw the band employ a new vocalist and bassist with Roge Davies and Paul "Dickie" Davies taking on the respective roles. A series of support slots thereafter saw them opening for acts such as The Exploited, The Varukers and One Way System in Bristol. In addition the band performed a series of gigs around the rest of the UK. The second line up recorded a cassette-only release, What Lies Ahead, which included tracks such as Black Horse of Famine and Stone Divider.
Power From Hell
The band's new material began to take on a more metal edge, with the first wave of thrash releases proving influential to their songwriting style. The lineup shifted in 1984, with Paul "Mo" Mahoney joining the band on vocals and Jase Stallard taking over from Dick on bass. A deal was secured with underground label Children of the Revolution, and the band released its first album, Power From Hell, in 1985.
The album was well-received by the nascent thrash underground. Its muddy, buzzsaw guitars and Mo's proto-death metal vocals fitted the bill perfectly and the band began to attract attention from a wider audience. Power From Hell's material gave a more metallic edge to the band's early sound; the album contained a number of tracks that were to grow to become considered as thrash anthems, including the eponymous Onslaught (Power From Hell), Angels of Death and Death Metal (itself the subject of some conjecture - was this tune the first usage of this term anywhere? The jury is still out on that oneâ€¦).