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 – 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

Vicious Rumors – Concussion Protocol (Steamhammer 2016)

Vicious Rumors has been around ever since 1979, but the mainstream hasn’t really paid much attention to them and the underground never embraced them either. Still, they’ve released a string of albums, one every few years at least.

I can kind of understand why they never broke through; the quality of music is up and down, with the 1988 release Digital Dictator as the highlight. Vicious Rumors exist in a cross section of power metal and thrash metal. Some riffs are very much in the thrash bag, as is the guitar sound. The arrangement and melodic elements have more in common with European power metal acts such as Rhapsody or Rage. The vocals is also a major reason why I’m thinking European, Nick Holleman sounds a lot like Peavy Wagner (Rage) in his melodic voice. I wish he would utilize his gruffer voice more, it’s really good.

This album has some great moments; I love the opening riff of the title track. It’s fast and powerful, and sets a tone for the rest of the record. Mid tempo and powerful riffs are the main components of this record. One of my main issues are the fact that they sort of keep to the rule of one good riff per song. A lot of the verses and choruses are pestered with boring guitars and subpar vocal melodies, broken up by some great riff and / or melodic guitar parts. Last of our Kind has an absolute killer riff, but the rest of the song doesn’t deliver.

Concussion Protocol mostly sits in a mid tempo chug, with some tempo shifts into a faster pace. In my personal opinion they sound best when they get really heavy, with the rather slow tempos, like in the song Bastards, which varies between an almost doomy atmosphere to mid tempo and then to a rather fast middle section, one of my favorite tracks.

There isn’t that much of a melodic edge to the album, but sometimes they let the guitars shine. The intro to Last of our Kind has a nice Thin Lizzy sounding melodic intro. There is some stellar lead work sprinkled out across the album, most impressive might be the soli on Every Blessings is a Curse, especially with the trading off between the guitarists.

The album is a great work soundtrack. It’s loud enough to drown out my coworkers and  unintrusive enough to allow me to concentrate on my work.

If you like the mid tempo chug, than this album is for you. I think the vocals kind of lack a little energy and are slick in a way. I wish he would do his lower register more, where he really shines, listen to the final track, Life for Life, and hear for yourselves.

Recommended tracks: Every Blessing is a Curse, Bastards

Rating: 3/5