At the time of this release OVERKILL had been pummelling airwaves for exactly 20 years. Being one of the first Thrash bands, they have had a hell of a legacy to live up to and, like every other band who has paved the way for a genre, are prone to catching criticism when comparing newer material to the glory days. Particularly facing harsh judgment for the three groove-infested albums of the 90’s, the ‘KILL have bounced back with a Thrash-tastic album of mass-destruction. Look no further, this is the OVERKILL we have come to know and love.
Blitz has returned to toss us around and gives perhaps his best range yet. He has opted for a higher pitch which shrieks through the speakers and can become quite annoying if one is not accustomed to the sound. I wouldn’t describe the technique as that altogether different from previous releases as he still retains his unique feel and manages to rock out. Alongside Blitz’s excellent performance we are dealt a devastating blow with those wonderful back-up choruses of old. Especially of note is the “Thunderhead” chorus which combines Blitz screaming, “I’m coming homeeee…” followed by a resounding “THUNDERHEAD!” from the rest of the gang; utterly fun and neckbreakingly satisfying.
Listen to that guitar-tone. That heavy as hell sound is capable of bursting ear drums. The riffs pouring out of the guitars left and right are of equal lethality and Dave Linsk does not run out of ideas. I am not sure what came over this band, but somehow they made it to that magical place of abundant riffs and thrash wizardry after going AWOL 4 years prior.
The solos on this album are in the more melodic vein yet manage to come across quite fierce, similar to the excellent guitar-work on “The Killing Kind”. Like every other ‘KILL album, D.D. Verni’s performance is excellent and the bass is loud and audible. Verni is even given a couple bass solos and amply displays his talent to drive your skull into the earth.
The riffing on this album is really where it pushes itself to the limit and forces your head to bang. They shed intensity from the chords and come across as altogether fresh, avoiding the pitfall of recycled riffs that many modern Thrash bands fall into. You can just feel the renewed energy here; these guys did not come to screw around.
The album is not altogether perfect, however. The production job found here allows for every instrument to breathe but falls into that category of too-modern and polished. I am left yearning for the glory days of old in which a little fuzz was blended into the mix like a dirt filled injection of old-school nostalgia. This can be accomplished remarkably well and still manage to allow the instruments their space, which is aptly displayed in DRUNKARD’s debut album. Also, I must ask; what the hell is up with the back-up vocals in “I, Hurricane”? Yelling “You’re gunna’ die” like a slack-jawed yokel trying to imitate the grim reaper is not cool and about as lethal as a corked bat in the hands of your grandma. These two flaws are somewhat minimal and do not detract a significant amount from the composition as a whole.
This is a solid OVERKILL album and displays the fact that these guys could have named the band consistency (but how fun would that be?). 20+ years and these guys still know how to rock, which in itself deserves respect. James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine and Scott Ian: quit weeping at your inefficiency to produce good Thrash and pick up a goddamn OVERKILL album.
Highlights: “Thunderhead”, “Bleed Me” and “Death Comes Out To Play” with its lightning fast riffing and a chorus which grabs you by your mullet and throws you to the ground, casting aside all regard for human life and laying waste to everything in its path. (Online May 22, 2005)