Overkill – Necroshine (Steamhammer 1999)

Necroshine was the album that got me into Overkill, and it’s the record I measure all other Overkill releases up against. I was aware of the band for many years, never listening to them. I don’t remember exactly how I got a hold of this record, but I loved it from the first snarling of the opening title track: Groovy and heavy, with thoroughly heavy bottom and screeching vocals on top. I still love the track.

My December introduced me to the sing-along chorus side of Overkill. A simple little vocal line, followed by some ooo-ing, that sticks in your brain, and a midtempo, sludgy riff that grooves, builds and pushes ever onwards. Let Us Pray is another groovy, midtempo, heavy tune, with all the greatness of the first two tracks, plus some Sabbath-esque riffing. Stone Cold Jesus is as infectious as the plague and when I hear it, it stays with me for quite some time; great riff, great melodies and amazing arrangement.

There are a few songs that don’t quite measure up; Forked Tongue Kiss, Revelation and I am Fear are somewhat lesser compositions. They all lack that little extra tinge that makes remarkable. Revelation  might be the weakest song Overkill released since the forgettable I Hear Black in ’93.

Black Line is more of an upbeat song then the rest of the record. Lyrically the record is kind of dark and, at times, kind of creepy. Black Line has a bit humor to the lyrics, combine that with a moody but up beat riff and you get a good listening experience.

Dead Man has a massive groove and together with 80 Cycles, are the two strongest tracks on the entire record. The blend of groove, Sabbath-eque riffing pressed together in a thrash soundscape and a sing-along sensibility, you get some great metal. The shifting tempos seem natural and spices up the songs. Absolutely amazing tracks!

The record has a definitive 90s feel to it. The sound and focus on groove, and the fact that most of the songs from this thrash band is midtempo, are all clear evidence of the 90s. If you like(d) this sound and the grooves of Machine Hear or Pantera, give Overkill 90s releases a spin.

Recommended tracks: 80 Cycles, Dead Man, Stone Cold Jesus, Necroshine, My December

Rating: 4,5 / 5

Overkill – The Grinding Wheel (Nuclear Blast 2017)

Overkill continue to release consistent quality records. The Grinding Wheel is a solid piece of thrash metal and, in my humble opinion, it has a slight edge over other surviving 80s outfits. The Grinding Wheel is an overall stronger record than For All Kings, Dystopia, Repentless, Hardwired … to Selfdestruct, Under Attack  and Gods of Violence. The only one of my old heroes to come close to Overkill these days are Death Angel, in terms of new music.

All the hallmarks of Overkill are pushed to the front on this record. Blitz is screeching and screaming, Linsk and Tailer sound great, cohesive and blistering; pushing out riff after riff of headbanging / foot tapping intensity. DD is both rumbling and keeping the wall of sound solidly grounded. Lipnicki is solid on the kit. Everything sounds great!

Overkill sound like they’ve got an abundance of energy, where Metallica sound uninspired and Megadeth tired, Slayer bored. Overkill seem to still have the fire burning and some real, honest anger left in their hearts. I could have wished for a bit more diversity and experimentation. Overkill is balancing on the edge becoming their own parody. Just like Kreator, the lack of experimentation is apparent. I feel White Devil Armory had more variation in sound and style, as this record is in your face throughout.

As for the songs, I’m totally into Red, White and Blue as it combines groov, a bit of silliness, gang vocals, thrashing speed and blistering guitars. Overkills energy owes a lot to punk of the late seventies and that inspiration flows to the surface on high energy songs like The Mean  Green Killing Machine and Our Finest Hour.

The main issue with this release is the lack of room to breath or the time to think. But then again, I kind of like that.

 

Recommended tracks: Red White and Blue, Our Finest Hour, Lets all Go to Hades

Rating: 3,5 / 5

Overkill – Coverkill (Steamhammer 1999)

I’ve been looking around for this record for quite some time, but it’s not that available in my frigid corner of the world, so I buckled under and bought the damn thing on Itunes. I’m completionist, if it’s an artist I really like, I need to own the entire discography (excepting some compilations, live recordings, singles etc.) or my life will be pointless and sad (ocd?). This hole in my Overkill collection has bothered me for years. And completion feels oh so very sweet.

I’ve talked about my fascination for cover albums when handling Danzigs latest travesty of a record. I downloaded these songs at work, with a slow, slooooow connection, which gave me plenty of time to check out the track list. Three Sabbath covers, wow, a Deep Purple track, Priest, Motörhead, Ramones, Kiss and Tull. Good stuff! But, wait, what’s this? ManOwar? Really? I’m never drunk enough to listen to ManOwar any more. I was in my youth, but now? I’m old fart… man.

I suppose it’s natural to open with the tune they took their name from. The Motörhead classic sound ferocious in the Overkills interpretation. I kind of wish they’d included a studio version, not a live version, oh well. Two of three Sabbath covers sound decent. Never Say Die has never been a personal favorite of mine, I rarely listen to that record at all. Megadeth has also done a cover of this song, but I think Overkill has the edge on this one. Changes I don’t like, Blitz doesn’t really have the voice for ballads, just like Ozzy. The bass really bothers me, it sounds half assed. DD’s bass is bouldering, as always, but it doesn’t fit this particular song. Cornucopia has never made an impact on me, neither the original nor this cover version, so I won’t linger on this tune.

Deuce is just a killer. I find the original Kiss song a bit on slow side. Overkill has sped it up and given it some power, which is totally what this song deserves. This one is just nice. I enjoyed the Ramones cover as well. I had a Ramones period in high school, when I listened to every track I could get my hands on, but this track … I don’t think it ever came my way. I’m not familiar with The Dead Boys, I like this song, but I have no idea how the original sounds. I think maybe they should have picked a different Purple tune, but that’s just me.

This entire album has the same feel as Metallicas Garage Inc. in that the production is not as slick and or precise as the studio albums containing original material. I guess that they’re looking for that garage sound, that feeling of the days when they first started. It’s not the best selection of covers I’ve heard, but certainly not the worst. Overkill had a typical groove metal sound in the late nineties, evident on this record, and it really doesn’t fit well with a few of the chosen tracks on this record.

This isn’t the big whole in my collection I thought it would be. It’s a nice little reminder that Overkill used to be a coverband, but also that they’ve moved on.

Recommended tracks: Overkill, Deuce

Rating 3/5

Overkill – From the Underground and Below (Steamhammer 1997)

This is perhaps Overkills grooviest record, released in the heyday of groove metal, perhaps on the tail end, but still. Overkill has really taken the groove of the metal scene at this time to heart. Just like on the two previous releases, W.F.O and Killing Kind, Overkills transition to the sound of nineties works out great.

They manage to combine the aggression from their earlier material with slower, thicker music of this decade. I wasn’t really around noticing Overkill at the time, I was to busy discovering Metallica. I found some magazines from the time cleaning out the house a while back, and found an interview with Kerry King where he kind of rips Overkill for selling out. I for one am glad they changed their sound and style, because this material is much stronger than the “classic” material.

The disc starts up with a fist to the face. It Lives is a crunchy song with a nice chorus and real hook for the middle section.  Long Time Dyin’, Half Past Dead, F.U.C.T. and The Rip and Tear  are all of the same ilk. They are mid-paced with a heavy bass line and groovy guitars. The lead work should be mentioned, especially on F.U.C.T., just a great melody and so incredibly fitting to the music.

Blitz plays to his strength, the melodic strength to his vocals are as usual top notch. Promises sees the band doing a ballad, full of clichés and totally lacking in quality, but it has that certain sing-along quality that a lot of ballads have. I’m glad they didn’t make a habit of the ballads.

I think The Rip ‘n Tear is my favorite track. It has a mixture of heaviness, melody, groovy rhythms and funny lyrics, not to mention the hooky melody. This is the kind of song that drew me to Overkill in the first place, and the sort of tracks that I pick out when I make playlists.

From the Underground and Below is a bit darker than the Killing Kind and W.F.O. both lyrically and musically. They are still kind of getting their groove metal wings still, it will still be a few years until they master it fully.

 

Recommended tracks: It Lives, The Rip and Tear and F.U.C.T.

Rating: 4/5

Overkill – The Years of Decay (Atlantic Records 1989)

The Years of Decay was Bobby Gustafsons last album as Overkills guitarist, and it’s quite obvious that the band needed some new inspiration. This is a pretty bland record and a lot of the songs just sound uninspired and half assed.

It’s unfair to blame Gustafson for the tired sound and feel of the record, but things did change after he left. But this record was released in 1989 and should have seen the band hitting their stride as this was the height of thrash metal popularity. I get the feeling that this record was pushed through and rushed out. Releasing a full album a year is a stressful thing and it’s clearly pushing the band to their creative limits.

The opener, Time to Kill, is one of the highlights of the album. The riff is one of the better ones and chorus is full on addictive, to the point when I remember the whole track from just reading the title. Elimination is a bland number, the riff is crap and lyrics are horrid. Why they chose this song as a single and even released a video for it, I just don’t understand.

I hate on the other hand is amazing. A solid riff, a stomper of a beat and fun fun sing-along lyrics. This should have been the lead single. The next two tracks do nothing for me and seem like filler material. The B-side starts off great with Birth of Tension. This is a well-crafted song, where everything melts together in a natural way. Who Tends the Fire is an eight minute track of boredom. The Years of Decay is also above the eight minute mark, but is more interesting and with some absolutely amazing guitarleads. DDs bass sound really comes through on this track.

For some reason the Overkill series of songs has stayed consistently great and as on the previous albums the closer is from this line of tracks, even though this isn’t titled as it, E.vil N.ever D.ies is part of the series. It has the quality, the lyrics, the riff and bassline of a great song and still part of the setlist, I think.

I kind of want to this album to get a higher rating, because I put it on quite often. The case is that when I get into it, it’s not that great a record. It has a reputation as a classic thrash record, but it’s nowhere near the classics in my opinion. It lacks the overall quality, even though it has a few classic tracks.

 

Recommended tracks: Time to Kill, E.vil N.ever D.ies, Birth of tension

Rating 3/5

Overkill – Under the Influence (Atlantic Records 1988)

Under the Influence is one of those albums that just seem unimportant in Overkills discografie. It’s a decent album, but not their best.

 

The plague of eighties-Overkill is the poor sound quality of their records. Under the influence doesn’t sound as poorly as Taking Over or Feel the Fire, but if you compare it with other releases from the same year (1988), it just not that great. They were signed to Atlantic at the time, and one of the trademarks of Atlantics metal releases from the eighties is that they all sound horrible and cheaply made.

 

The drums sounds thin and tinny, the bass sounds like a guitar and the guitar sound screechy and and are very high pitched. A remastered / remixed version would be welcome.

 

Shred is the most thrashy song on the record.It’s fast and has some nice shredding guitar. Never Say Never has that Overkill sound and feel to it, their signature is easily found on this song. Especially on the chorus, heavy heavy, with a full stop, an arpeggio and then back to the heavy. If you listen to it, you’ll understand what I’m not describing very well.

 

Hello from the Gutter is a sing-along tune. The vocal melody is kind of addictive and stays with you for some time. It has an aggressive edge to it and also a sing-along quality. Mad Gone World has a chorus that’s easy to remember, but the rest of the song is easily forgotten.

 

End of the Line is a great tune. It’s aggressive in laid back sort of way, if that makes any sense. It’s well rounded and just a quality track. It has a great bassline and the vocal melody is infectious. Head First is another sing-along track, with a hooky, groovy main riff that keeps the track moving forward,in a head bobbing mode.

 

The final track is the third installment of the Overkill anthems. I love the first two, from Feel the Fire and Taking Over, this one is not as good as predecessors. It’s lacking in direction and the melody is weak.

 

Overkill has released consistently good albums. This album has several great tunes, but is nowhere near what the band is able to deliver. Things to come starts showing up: the great snarly melodies, sing-along chorus and you can sort of hear DD-bassound starting to clean up.

 

Recommended tracks: Hello from the Gutter, Head First

Rating: 3,5 / 5

Overkill – Taking Over (Atlantic 1987)

Taking Over is often hailed as Overkills best release, their Physical Graffiti so to speak. Until very recently this was the only hole in my Overkill collection. I’d heard most songs before from live records or podcasts or you know… somewhere, and looking at the track listing, I never really felt the need to procure this album. It had none of my “go to” Overkill tracks. From live records, setlists and youtube videos I know there is a few live staples and fan favorites on here.

 

Deny the Cross is a great opener, it’s fast, has a classic guitar riff and a catchy sing-along chorus. What it lacks on the studio album is a pounding, rough rhythm section continuously pushing the song forward, if you go to Youtube or a live recording you can hear what DDs bass really sound like and it’s just a big big shame the overall sound of this record is so poorly done that the bass and drums sound like crap.

Wrecking Crew is a title that the band has used, or alluded to, a lot during their career. I’m not a big fan of this cut. It’s too long and doesn’t go anywhere. On the other hand, I’m really into Fear His Name. It’s a good pointer to where the band would go in the future. Fatal If Swallowed has that catchiness typical of Overkill. With better production, this track would have been a speed metal classic. It really should be, all the ingredients are there, I’m not sure why it’s not.

 

The b-side is kind of a lett down, it’s lacking those great choruses and catchy melodies found on the a-side. The best tracks are In Union We Stand and Overkill II.

In Union We Stand is a Manowaresque anthem type song. It’s not my favorite type of metal, but it has a certain appeal, in an inner neanderthal kind of way. You know chest pounding, in a power stance with a war cry on your lips. Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues) is the continuation of the last track of the debut Feel the Fire. It’s is a mid-paced, but kind of progressive, almost doomy at times, blend of different metal genres. It’s just great  and fist pounding.

 

There are few things I really don’t like on Taking Over. First of all, the production sucks. Like most of Atlantic’s metal releases from the eighties, this sounds very low budget, with almost no bottom at all. The sound is thin, almost tinny. The guitars aren’t squealing, they’re whining. The drums sound worse than my bedroom recordings from my early teen years and the bass is almost not present at all. Come on fellows, lets clean this up and release a remastered version. I’d buy it.

The second thing is the incredibly bad cover art. It just screams “I’m from the eighties”. With today’s technology it looks just bad, unforgivingly poorly done. But taken into consideration that this was released in 87, I guess it’s OK.
Recommended tracks: Deny the Cross, Fear His Name, Fatal if Swallowed, Overkill II