Review Summary: A basic yet pounding thrash disc that shouldn't disappoint any Overkill fans, but also won't grab many new ones.
The most fitting description that I've ever heard for Overkill is the AC/DC of thrash metal. You know exactly what you're getting with each release, and surprises are very minimal. Bloodletting is the 11th studio album of the band's discography, and they had barely changed anything from when they first released their self-titled EP in 1984. Unlike Megadeth or Metallica, who turned into gothic rock and a GN'R rip-off respectively, the most Overkill's ever been accused is straying into groove metal. While there were shades of the groove style on I Hear Black and From the Underground and Below, Bloodletting is just a basic yet pounding thrash disc that shouldn't disappoint any Overkill fans, but also won't grab many new ones.
Bloodletting has no particularly weak tracks. That said, there aren't many home runs either. The closest we get to an A+ thrash track is the odd closer 'Can't Kill a Dead Man', which mostly utilizes drum fills in the verses and solos instead of your traditional bass-snare approach, and has some truly forceful guitar work. Unfortunately, there's a few tracks that had home run potential that were either weighed down by punchless backing vocals in the chorus, making it sound too empty; a cheesy and highly unnecessary breakdown jammed in the middle of a truly pummeling thrash track; or way too many herky-jerky tempo changes (My Name Is Pain, Bleed Me, and Death Comes Out To Play, respectively).
Overkill's 11th release is the first time since The Years of Decay that they've recorded a studio album as a four piece. Dave Linsk is the only guitarist on this album, although the brash, loud production easily creates the illusion of a dual attack. Linsk gives a beast of a performance, serving up very heavy riffs and screeching, almost over-bearing guitar fills and solos. Tim Mallare doesn't do anything too fancy, just keeps every track going strong with those driving beats. D.D. Verni's bass is actually fairly present in the mix and contributes a great deal of this album's heaviness. Lastly, Bobby Ellsworth (Blitz) gives an excellent vocal performance. Yeah, he sounds like Brian Johnson on acid, and probably always will, but his vocal style is the definition of sharp and piercing and is the perfect complement to Overkill's east coast thrash style.
Are you a fan of thrash metal? Are you a fan of Overkill? If your answer to both questions is yes, then this hidden gem released at the height of thrash metal's dormant stage will prove to be a more than worthwhile addition to your metal inventory. If your answer to either is no, then it's a toss-up, simply because this barreling release is aimed a pretty narrow demographic: fans of the band, and may just sound convoluted to anyone else.
What I'm Missin
Left Hand Man
Can't Kill a Dead Man