Review Summary: A satisfying and excellent end of an era for Overkill.
Riding high off the moderate success of 1989's "The Years of Decay", Overkill took to the studios yet again in 1991 to make their first album of the 90's. This time however, the band would be writing material without the help of former songwriter/guitarist Bobby Gustafson, leaving many to wonder what lay in store for the fractured band in the near future. Despite concerned fans, the band rebounded with an album that not only sounded original, but would also become one of the bands best efforts in years to come. Hailing from New Jersey, Overkill formed in 1980 making them one of the earliest thrash bands to come into existence. The band is also one of the most stable and active thrash bands, having played together for nearly 33 years. With this particular release, you can see why they are so highly revered among metal enthusiasts.
Despite nearly a decade of activity, the band still sounded very much alive and energetic in 1991. Perhaps the loss and gain of a couple members breathed some new life into the band. D.D. Verni had wanted to add a second guitarist to the band for years, and with the departure of Bobby Gustafson, he seized the opportunity and hired guitarists Merrit Gant and Rob Cannivino. With the addition of a second guitarist, there is a constant wall of sound coming from the duo and it makes the music more heavy and concentrated. Bobby Gustafson once said that he sees his replacement as a compliment because they needed two guitarists to replace him, however I think the band just wanted a new feel to their music, and succeeded in that aspect. The band sounds slightly more mature than in previous efforts, and things seemed to have finally come full circle.
With regards towards the overall feel of the record, things remain much the same as previous efforts, with aggressive and intense playing throughout. However the albums can occasionally come off as slightly melodic, and the group does manage to pull off a truly moving and theatrical ballad of sorts with the closer "Solitude", as it breathes some variation into the music and ends the album on a good note. Subject matter remains much the same, with Blitz singing about dark and ominous topics of dread and death, and he occasionally throws in some self aware and personalized lines.
Production is top notch, with famed producer Terry Date getting the most out of the band's already tight sound. The bands individual abilities are put to the test, and we can certainly here the skill needed for such fast and technical music. The drumming is flawless, with Sid Falck giving the best performance of his career here, and the drumming gives the songs the much needed edge to keep you listening. Bass is slightly less audible than the rest of the music, however with a proper set of speakers one can hear some adequate and nice playing from D.D. Verni that compliments the rest of the band the way it should. The guitars as I said before are like a wall of sound that brings a more heavy and concentrated effort to the table, however the soloing is average in comparison to Gustafson's previous works. It goes without saying that the vocals are an acquired taste. The raspy and high pitched delivery of Blitz will seem familiar and great to long time listeners, but newcomers may be put off entirely by the vocalist, which brings a unique yet hit-or-miss aspect to the album.
Despite the absence of a long time member, at the end of the day this is some classic Overkill that every metal fan should at least here once. The band crafted an album that stayed true to their sound, while still trying a couple new things. Though the band would largely abandon the all out thrash found here in favor of the more doom metal styles on their next release, aggressive, intense, mature, and concentrated thrash is whats in store for all who seek this monster of an album out.
- Thanx for Nothin'
Booby "Blitz" Ellsworth - vocals
Merrit Gant - guitar, background vocals
Rob Cannavino - guitar, background vocals
Sid Falck - drums
D.D. Verni - bass, background vocals
Produced by: Terry Date, Overkill, Jon and Marsha Zazula
Engineered by: Terry Date, Matt Lane
Mixed by: Terry Date
Mastered by: Howie Weinberg
Recorded: March-April 1991
Labels: Atlantic/Megaforce Records