The mighty mean green killing machine have returned with yet another grinding weal of supersonic hate. For well-over three decades (and even more years of decadence) the historical Jersey skullcrushers have continued to deliver some of the most rotten to the core / down to the bare bones hammerhead banging Thrash ever!
It took me awhile to get into ‘White Devil Armory’ and ‘The Electric Age’ when I first bought them, but their latest blood and iron bound effort outshines their past two necro violent ambitions. Falling under the influence of ‘Horrorscope’, ‘I Hear Black’, and ‘W.F.O., but still maintaining the more modern, come heavy edge which began with ‘Bloodletting’, their debut effort with Dave Linsk. These thunder headcrashers have not reached the end of the line yet, as they continue to shred; a long time from dying.
The wrecking crew that is “Blitz” “The Skull”, Dave, Ron and “D.D.” (Donald Duck) shine on with the same intact line-up since ‘Immortalis’. Notably, after such a long, broad perspective of influences, they continue being old school. They reign, seldom fading from the powersurge of pure Hellish pride and sonic electro-violence, for which they are admired. Never will they deny their Crossover roots either.
I recently spoke to “Blitz” who had been bombarded by interviews, but was always excited to engage in some drunken wisdom with me, discussing the disgusting present and the past mad gone world tours; many of which inspired the song “Let’s All Go To Hades”. I learned that no matter how it appears on the artwork, Overkill is one word. “Blitz” took his appellative from the Dead Boys member, not the referential Ramones, or the Sweet song, nor the Punk band itself. He informed me that an idea for the name of the band early on was “The Band Of Bobs”, since they were all named Robert, prior to release of the ‘Power In Black’ Demo.
He verified that despite their age, the band is ready again to hit the road after sweating it out and killing time in the studio. (I get to see them in two weeks with Nile, not sadly Amorphis or LORDI, though!) He explained to me that “Fuck You” is a Subhumans cover and not D.O.A., and that they are always excited about promoting new material, culminating with their own unique battle and fight songs. My personal favorite is “Old School”.
This release represents their finest hour, easily their best since the “comeback” that is defined by ‘Ironbound’. As Blitz” himself says, “The band still holds relevance, so we are still grinding it out, and feeling the fire burn from within. We have an image to uphold, so we just dusted off the old tools, but we also applied a fresh coat of paint.”
Watch the lyric videos for the newer songs, and you will agree. “Our Finest Hour” is an inspiring anthem, better than “Armorist”. It upholds that “Fast Junkie” and “Bitter Pill” mentality. The God-like title track is a slow but brutal burn. There is great bass work on here, and the conclusion hints at a possible “Overkill VI”. As many of you might have noticed on Facebook, I commented that the songs are very long, but not boring. They still endure, and the riffs are not overkill. The melodies never feel stale as if swallowed by too much wanking. Each killer riff and hook commands the listener’s presence, riddled with excellent lead guitar work, and crushing drums. This is indicated by Ron Lipnicki’s sick bash on “Mean Green Killing Machine”. This killing kind of cut has the head-on impact of “Necroshine”; another quality opener. Speaking of ‘Necroshine’ (Damn! This album is 18 years old, already) “Shine On” resonates this rhythm, putting the follower in a world of hurt!
Bobby’s vocals sound so much better too. I always enjoyed the way he performed with The Cursed when he summoned the beast within singing with Dan Lorenzo from Hades. Despite all the Goddamn trouble he has been though, by his own admission, he is still learning, developing, and growing as a vocalist. As to be expected, the bastards mention and continue to display their rip and tear type hallowed gutter humor with their lyrics for “Come Heavy” and “The Long Road”, ”Little pig, little pig let me in…”
Technology plays a key role in this recording too. Nuclear Blast had the right intention, giving the band the wide berth and ample recording time, along with the best engineering to guarantee such quality production. The power in black and green with envy “Goddamn Trouble” echoes back to “Thanx For Nothin’” meets “Coma” from ‘Horrorscope’. The patriotic “Red, White, And Blue” has the feel of the fire of “The Fight Song” or “I Hate”. “Let’s All Go To Hades” recalls the feeding frenzy and bold, face pagan stomp of ‘The Killing Kind’ or crucial cuts ‘From The Underground And Below’ with its “It Lives” and “Long Time Dyin’ vibe.
I am grateful that Nuclear Blast is standing in union with Overkill; a privilege long overdue! What I am missing though, is the inclusion of the ‘80’s and early ‘90s back catalogue of material on the ‘Historikill’ Boxset. The elimination of these landmark releases is a major oversite. Either way, ‘The Grinding Wheel’ is a mandatory purchase. The digipak includes a Thin Lizzy cover of “Emerald”.
There are a lot of killer releases due in February, including new Bloodfeast, Chronosphere, Wretch, Ex Deo, and the official release of the Sanctuary Demos, but as with Kreator being the best bet of January, I am confident Overkill will hail from the gutter, and their kill logic calling will truly be taking over the charts!