OVERKILL has sort of a legendary cult status as the one Thrash band that stuck it out and didn’t start writing trite in order to remain prominent in the age of “The Black Album” and “Vulgar Display Of Power”. While I consider this outfit to basically be among the best in the business and a cut above the members of the Big 4, they don’t have a flawless record, and this album is a testament to that. Much like DIO’s “Angry Machines”, this album showcases a great band performing badly by venturing too far out of their element and occasionally falling flat on their faces in the process. It’s still a cut above what every other Thrash band was doing around this time, with maybe the exception of SLAYER, but compared to the amazing material heard on “The Years Of Decay” and their previous endeavor “Horrorscope”, this leaves a lot to be desired.
In many ways this album inspires a lot of anger in me because things start off really well, but starts to deteriorate into a 1 band contest of who can Groove the listener to death the fastest. “Dreaming In Columbian” is all but the perfect manifestation of what makes this band so great, kicking things off at full speed with a bludgeoning though fairly simple riff set. The intro and slow sections aren’t quite as dramatic as “Time To Kill” or “Deny The Cross”, but that same sense of buildup and release is perfectly maintained. “Weight Of The World” takes more of a straight lined speed approach, and carries the most memorable riff set on the album; very reminiscent of the better work done in the 1990-1991 by bands like TESTAMENT and VIO-LENCE. “Just Like You” has a more rudimentary approach in line with the more Punk-like Thrash bands, and is carried very much by Blitz’s wicked vocal delivery.
Now if this album had focused more on material like the 3 aforementioned songs, this album might have been better than “Horrorscope”, but unfortunately the Groove disease decided to screw it up for everybody, damn Bob Rock and Dimebag Darrel and their metallic flavored bubble gum drivel. But to cease in digressing, it is important to note that in spite of writing 2/3rd of an album loaded with down tempo, repetitive half-Thrash, things mostly avoid becoming overtly terrible. As evident in their recent releases, OVERKILL carries this style of Metal better than most because they write riffs that fun enough to bear endless repetition and have a vocalist that can maintain a listener’s interest after the music has gone stale. Good examples of the band maintaining a fairly respectable groove going include “I Hear Black”, “World Of Hurt” and “Spiritual Void”.
The places where things truly fall apart are relatively few, but when they do, analogies like a train wreck in a world built out of glass just don’t truly do justice to the horror that ensues. “Shades Of Gray” just lands like a ton of bricks on one of the most vapid guitar riffs ever put to music, not to mention to exhibiting the warning signs of guitar mud-butt from getting way to ambitious with the down tuning. Blitz’s vocals aren’t as grating as Anselmo’s, the latter of whose vocals would seem more in place here, but they can’t salvage this at all. “Ignorance And Innocence” is also really boring and drags enough to get lapped by a one legged turtle, not to mention that the principle riff is so ridiculously similar to “I’m Broken” that I laugh my ass off at the thought of Dimebag looking at this song and going “Oh man, I smell a hit here, all I’ve got to do is alter this a little and put some crazier solos on top of it and I’ll be able to buy that gold plated beard braider that I’ve always wanted.”
I can’t fully throw this album under the bus, despite the fact that it would be fun to see a couple of these songs get crushed like an ant under a steel anvil, there are just too many redeeming qualities to it. It’s an easy album to hate because it makes you care about it enough to be interested, but then doesn’t live up to what it promises. OVERKILL fans and old school Thrash fans are encouraged to look for this in the discount bin, preferably at $7 or below. It’s about equal to DEATH ANGEL’s “Act III”, and a huge step above most of what was called Thrash in 1993, but as that tired cliché says, that isn’t saying much.
(Online April 17, 2009)