Review Summary: Certainly better compared to their other 2000s efforts; what this album may lack in originality or innovation, it makes up for with menacing riffs and attitude.
Early-2000s weren't exactly sugar with honey for Overkill. It's not that they suddenly were getting along bad or they changed their trademark sound; it’s just that the crowd was starting to get bored with Kill’s flirt with groove metal in their latest releases. During the late 90s New Jersey thrashers acquired a certain ''underground'' status, which is really sad once you realize the solid amount of superb material there’s on From the Underground and Below
and to a lesser extent Necroshine
. This commercial trend was still in force in the 21st century, with Bloodletting
and especially ReliXIV
having a negative, very poor reception or simply being overlooked back then. Those two studio albums may commit the sin of being boring, overwhelming and a little unmemorable. However, who would’ve thought that in between two of Overkill’s most polarizing works was sandwiched quite a noteworthy effort as Kill Box 13
? Amid the chaos, there was still an opportunity to hear an Overkill’s minor classic, and Kill Box 13
With the inclusion of a new and second guitarist, Derek Tailer, Kill Box 13
isn’t much different than anything that anyone would expect from the band at that time; being a 2000s Overkill effort, it’s obvious that it’ll drink a bit from its older brothers, especially from the last three records. The infamous groove overtones are still present in some songs, and the writing approach here is sort of a continuation of Bloodletting
. But where that album was (in parts) dull, boring and forgettable, Kill Box 13
is shiny, energetic and somewhat attractive. It’s not up to par with an immortal (Immortalis?
) classic such as Feel the Fire
(as some people said during its release), but as it was shown in the 2000’s opus, the band largely ditched the dark and confusing atmospheres that surrounded Necroshine
, and instead they did essentially what they could do best; they brought the fun and bite back, with more successful results than its predecessor.
All in all, while this record offers such a solid and respectable consistency level, Kill Box 13
partially suffers as a whole album because all the tracks sound pretty samey, both in structures and moods. For those who really like to complain about the group delivering the same every day, as well as those who can’t handle a 50-minute dose of Overkill, this can be an overwhelming experience. For everyone else, though, highlights are very noticeable and immediate from the first listen; ''The One'', ''Unholy'', ''Damned'' and ''Devil by the Tail'' show a band masterfully merging the sounds they’ve experimented with and even kind of predicting part of their future material, with the former being the best of the bunch thanks to its great use of Overkill’s traditional ingredients (fierce, frenetic thrash riffage, the gang choruses, etc.) as well as the instrumental prowess shown by the band in its five minutes and the wild hook provided by the backing vocals during the chorus ('I am, I am, I am the one'
There are also a couple of slow, melodic numbers (''Crystal Clear'' and especially ''No Lights'', which offers a great melodic variety in its riffs) that bring to mind the I Hear Black
days, with a polished, clean sound and very influenced by classic rock. The mix does some wonders with the album too, as the guitars and drums have a massive presence, giving more life and punch to the songs, the bass has enough space to shine as well and Blitz’s vocals aren’t mixed as loud and in the front as they were on Bloodletting
, so the experience for those who’re not adept to his vocals may not be so annoying and bothersome. And despite the length problem, every song is fairly solid and well-crafted, so taking them as individual tracks can improve the listening experience for some.
Sadly the band dared to follow this album with the boring, painfully average 2005’s ReliXIV
(even its cover art transmits a rusty and stale feeling). However, every cloud has a silver lining, and after finishing the decade with the solid, decent Immortalis
, Overkill entered the 2010s with one of their most beloved studio works, and undoubtedly one of the most aggressive returns to an old sound you’ll ever hear; Ironbound
. Although half of their 2000s stuff can be discarded with little pain, Overkill with Kill Box 13
managed to receive critical acclaim again at this point of their career and put out a consistent and entertaining enough record to spin occasionally. Not 100% essential, but certainly not an album whose existence will add virtually nothing of worth to your life.