It must be said that OVERKILL has been on the receiving end of a lot of goodwill from their fans, nothing else can explain how they are still spoken of as ‘the most consistent Thrash band’, among other things, even in the face of a bunch of rather haphazard groove-oriented albums during the 90s. I’ a big fan of the band myself but in all honesty the mid- to late 90s wasn’t a good time for the band and it wasn’t until 2003’s “Killbox 13” album that they really started making quality music again. Anyway, the album in question – “From The Underground And Below” – is often regarded as their worst album. I would probably peg its predecessor (“The Killing Kind”) as well as “ReliXIV” as worse, as I see FTUAB more as a fascinating but flawed album rather than al all-out crapfest many would have you believe it is.
If you disliked “The Killing Kind” you probably won’t find much to enjoy here as Blitz and the boys continue in the same groove-driven vein but they do throw in more varied elements here, so e good, some bad. The album is book-ended by two potent thrashers in “It Lives” and “Little Bit O’ Murder”, tracks that might mislead some into thinking this album will harken back to the Thrash-y exploits of yore. Not so. In between these two strong tracks they try their hands at a sundry list of musical styles – industrial Metal on “Save Me”, Blues-Rock (Biker Metal?) on “Genocya” and “Half Past Dead”, and even an AOR-like power ballad in the form of “Promises”. Definitely a varied album then, but unfortunately not all these disparate elements blend into a coherent whole, leaving the album with quite a fragmented feel overall. The overtly industrial tracks rely a tad too much on single-note riffs and the occasional use of samples (like on “Save Me”) annoy more than they intrigue. Still, the crunchy yet crisp production job packs quite the punch, especially in terms of the excellent drum sound. Together with “It Lives”, a track where they effectively mix heavy groove and Thrash backed up by cool backing growls, the aforementioned “Promises” is a great track with a potent vocal delivery from Blitz. “The Rip ‘N Tear” is another good number, carried forward by more powerful grooves and it’s generally more energetic than most other songs on here.
All in all this is not one of the band’s better efforts mainly because it sounds so disjointed at times, the whole thing coming off as a bizarre sonic mix of BLACK SABBATH, KYUSS, and WHITE ZOMBIE with a few hints of their early Thrash sound thrown in here and there. It is probably an okay album when viewed as a non-OVERKILL effort but when compared to classics like “Feel The Fire” and “The Years Of Decay” this album leaves much to be desired.
(Online January 31, 2009)