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By Jase Stallard, Mar 3 2015 04:00AM

Former Onslaught members return for a second bite

In 1988 Onslaught issued an album that polarised opinion. In Search Of Sanity – which introduced Steve Grimmett, the former Grim Reaper frontman who would later be linked with replacing Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden – is considered the group’s best and worst album.

Slicker, more melodic and backed by major label clout, it could have made stars of the Bristolians but, as often happens in such circumstances, 18 months later they were gone.

Sparks flew four years ago when Grimmett and drummer Steve Grice considered performing the album in its entirety, and after adding guitarist Al Jordan and bassist Jase Stallard, both with Onslaught history of their own, The Sanity Days were born. The results exceed all expectations of a project formed for “a bit of fun and nostalgia”.

Steve’s delivery is slightly rougher but retains its power, while the likes of Charlie,Satan’s Blood and a nine-minute title cut display a considered quality and, yes... maturity that nods back to the album that gave the group their name, contrasting the ‘pure thrash’ approach of the existing Onslaught that reunited a decade ago.

By Jase Stallard, Feb 9 2015 04:00AM

The Sanity Days are musicians who have all at one time been in the Bristol Thrash band Onslaught, originally formed for a couple of gigs to play their former band’s In Search Of Sanity album live. Those gigs clearly went well as the band stayed together and have now released this album of original material through Candlelight Records. But how will it fare against the inevitable comparisons with “the other band”?

Let’s clear that up straight away then - this album is different to the old-school thrash that Onslaught play and so comparisons are in fact pointless. In fact, there seems to have been a deliberate effort made not to repeat anything done previously and there is a great deal of experimentation on display. Actually, it seems as though the band are thoroughly enjoying not being tied to a specific genre and are just going wherever the music takes them which has prompted the invention of a new genre to try to describe their sound – Hard ‘n’ Heavy Metal! Feel free to use it if you like!

The common theme throughout the album though is the crunchy guitar riffs that are prevalent and there are in fact some quite uptempo moments, such as on My Demon Mind and Firestorm, showing they can still play thrash when they choose. At the other end of the scale, Broken Wings is a slow-burning ballad which starts with a quite gorgeous guitar intro from Al Jordan before Steve Grimmett shows another side to his singing with an excellent vocal that could well be his strongest on the album.

Another song with an excellent vocal is Ruler of Eternity, which is inspired by the late Ronnie James Dio and its great fun to play spot the song titles from his career that are thrown in throughout the lyrics. With a slow paced but heavy riff that is obviously also a nod to Dio’s work with Sabbath/Heaven & Hell the song is a fitting tribute to the great man.

Closer To The Edge features possibly the best riff on offer and also has some good rhythm section work from drummer Steve Grice and bassist Jase Stallard. Grice’s sparing use of the double kick drums being particularly effective and when he locks in with the bass of Jase Stallard they make a brilliant foundation for that riff to play over.

Satan’s blood is a great song to release as a teaser as it shows off the albums strengths well, with everything on the album being condensed here into five and a half minutes. Featuring an excellent solo, an engaging main riff, solid rhythm section and strong vocals in a song that doesn’t outstay its welcome, this should be a single, no question.

Charlie is a storming song that has a lovely riff and a really good bassline but is spoiled a bit by being overlong with the atmospheric outro just taking too long. Unfortunately the title track suffers from a similar fate although the outro this time is more of Jordan’s excellent melodic guitar – it just takes too long to get to it. These complaints are really just nit-picking to try and balance all the positives in the name of balance, however as everything here is so good - even the production is excellent!

Trying to pick highlights from this album becomes more and more difficult the more you listen to it as this is a real grower and in fact has increased the score since the first few listens as more nuances become apparent. This is a very, very good album that will still be getting occasional play for many months to come and that doesn’t happen with many new releases. Bring on the live dates!

RATING: 9/10

Source: http://www.djeimages.co.uk/blog/2015/2/the-sanity-days