Review Summary: Feel the Fire lives up to its reputation as one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time.
Overkill formed in New Jersey in 1980. The band has since been widely acclaimed as one of the first thrash metal bands in the history of the genre. Feel the Fire proves to be an amazing debut that definitely set the standards for many thrash albums to come. The album comes in at just of forty minutes of playtime and Overkill uses that time to thrash your brains out. While they don't possess the edge that later bands like Kreator or Morbid Saint would soon bring to the metal masses, it makes up for it in fast, precise riffage. Overkill manages to create some very catchy moments in songs like "Overkill" that utilizes a great chorus and runs with it over the haunting riff very reminiscent of the theme song for the original Halloween film, with plenty of distortion and knob turning to turn it into an epic slice of metal mastery.
Vocals featured on Feel the Fire really set the mood. Ellsworth comes at you with an in your face approach as he displays his vocal acrobatics similar to those of the legend known as Bruce Dickinson. The vocal technique never gets too harsh but Ellsworth keeps a certain shrill quality in his throat when his isn't breaking nearby glasses with his blood curdling high pitched wail. When listening to Feel the Fire you'll realize that the album is just a straightforward onslaught of thrash and in a way lacks variety but at the same time it must be taken into consideration that Overkill was a fairly new band when recording and hadn't had much time to mature. That being said sections of the album might seem juvenile but Feel the Fire was just meant to be an introduction to thrash and it serves its purpose well by presenting a very powerful atmosphere created by some very memorable riffs and a vocal performance that is out of this world.
As mentioned before the quality of the riff is not lost with metals newfound speed. The production on the album really manages to capture the raw and heavy sound that Overkill wielded, and catches the sound of each instrument and allows them all to remain audible the entire time. It is hard to ignore the vast influence that the new wave of British heavy metal had on Overkill when they were writing the record. This element allows Overkill to work as a great gateway thrash band for people who are trying to work their way into the more extreme styles of metal considering they maintain a accessible enough sound along with the speedy edge that makes the genre what it is. Essentially you could refer to Feel the Fire as a tweaked out new wave of British heavy metal that happened to stumble upon a large dose of steroids.
While there isn't much to say on the content of the album when listening it is easy to see that it gave a very solid foundation to what would soon become one of the most beloved metal subgenres of today. In no way is the album the most well made in terms of structure or sound but it was a great foreshadowing of what was to come from the band and arguably the genre they helped create. When taking into account this album the likes of The Years of Decay and Horrorscope it is a real head scratcher as to why this band isn't in the "big four". Overkill have an approach that is up to par with the four bands from the US that are highly regarded as the greatest in the scene.
Overall Feel the Fire deserves a four out of five. This album is influential in so many ways but lacks the variation in structure, which is a problem they would fix in later releases. This album set the standards fairly high for thrash that would soon be recorded in bulk but it is in no way the best thing to come from the genre, but most likely whatever you consider the best in the genre can probably be traced back to this album in some way. Highly recommended for anyone looking to get into thrash or somebody who is already a fan of the genre (but if you are you probably have already heard this).