Overkill are probably the most consistent metal band around, as they never slack off and take a couple of years off between albums, and the albums they do make are consistently good. Tomorrow, Overkill will release their 13th studio album of original material. No other thrash band has more than about 8 or 9. (Well American thrash bands, anyway. Some foreign bands are less lazy) Currently, I have 9 Overkill studio albums, and they’re definitely all worth keeping. Their debut, ‘Feel the Fire’ is one of the better ones, and is also superior to any of the debuts by the Big Four of thrash metal. Pretty impressive stuff.
Though this album was released in 1985, Overkill had been around for quite a while at that point, and much of the material on this album was written by 1983. Thus, it is a bit more primitive, proto-thrashy than some of the other 1985 albums, though it is definitely more thrashy most of the pre-1985 material. Where it stands in history doesn’t matter much though, all that matters is that it’s excellent. Still, since they first released an album in `85 some may think them bandwagon jumpers, which I’m quite sure is not the case.
The production on this album is very rough, though rough in a way that accentuates the intensity of the album rather than diminishing it. And, at this point, Overkill wasn’t so big on subtlety, so you ain’t likely to miss too much. The guitar is dead center, accentuating the fact that they only had one guitarist at the time, and the bass is a bit louder than in most thrash. As a whole, though it is a thrash album, it does have quite a bit of a punkish speed-metal vibe going on, making the whole thing kinda feel like thrashified Motorhead. (though there is some distinct Iron Maiden influence, at times) This sound works for the whole Overkill feel and persona, particularly Blitz’s vocals, which are surprisingly good here. He lets out lotsa nice screams. The riffs are generally simple, but plenty crunchy and effective. Gustafson’s leads aren’t the height of originality, but they sound good, and complement the riffwork well. The rhythm work is effective, but perfunctory. Still, it’s enough.
‘Second Son’ is the weak point of the album. It’s alright, but not very memorable. ‘Rotten to the Core’ is a classic, and pretty ahead of it’s time, sounding more like Anthrax than Anthrax did, at the time. Great shout along chorus. ‘Hammerhead’ is a very fun, driving number. Has got a nice Maiden gallop and another great shout along chorus. The title track is probably the best thing here. Total Maiden worship, particularly by the rhythm section, done about as well as anyone has ever done. The middle break is totally sweet, particularly Blitz’s crazy vocals. ‘Blood and Iron’ is another rocker, with the finest, most intense riffwork on the album. Nothing fancy, of course, but metal doesn’t always need to be. ‘Kill at Command’ is most notable for it’s awesome middle break, with some fine leadwork and great, backing vocals. ‘Overkill’ is another classic, with some over the top, ’scary’ atmosphere, a totally unforgettable main riff and another insane performance from Blitz. (Particularly the shrieking)
Yeah, I’m done. If you like thrash you need to hear this.