Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Overkill-Feel the fire, 1985

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Normally when someone talks about 1980's American speed metal the first scene to come to mind is probably the Bay area scene. This was a huge scene that included Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Death Angel and a whole slew of others who came from the San Francisco area. After that maybe you think of LA as Slayer, Megadeth, Dark Angel and a few others were from there. What about New York? Well, of course Anthrax are from there, but there wasn't a huge scene. There was probably a bigger hardcore scene there in the 80's then there was a speed metal one. However, one hugely solid speed metal outfit that emerged from that area was Overkill. With their green logo, a singer named Blitz, a drummer named Rat and their own kind of style. Even though their debut was released in 1985, I believe much of it was actually written in 1983 and 1984. Several songs on this album appeared on various compilations before the band finally signed with Megaforce records. To me this album is even stronger now than I thought it was back then. Part of that may be that I had it on cassette for years and it sounded a bit muddy in that format. Now I have it on CD and can listen to it in all it's glory. The guitar sound of Bobby Gustafson was a bit broader than guitarists in other speed metal bands. He was was truly underrated for his work with this band. Bobby "blitz"Ellsworth has a voice that is both rough at times, but he can carry a bit of a melody when he has to. DD Verni is one of the few bass player's in speed metal who really stands out to me. His grinding basslines always helped the band maintain that steady sound they perfected. Original drummer Rat Skates was solid, but probably not my favorite drummer to play with this band. From the opening track "Raise the dead" you can tell that this album is a powerful, straight forward release. This band manages to be both relentless in their approach, but produce some very memorable tracks including "Hammerhead" and "Blood and iron". The album is probably more heavy than fast and it's fairly heavy for 1985. The song Overkill sets up a horror movie type story about an evil that never dies. The next two releases would feature sequels to this song and even the fourth album has a less direct sequel. Looking back this album still stand out as one of the highlights in the band's long and overall consistent career.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

never heard of them, but taking that I was 4 with the release I wont be too hard on myself for not I need to start the search, to see if I can find the album....;)

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not one of my favorites, but I liked the vocals for the most part.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Sgt Fluffy said...

This is the only Overkill CD I do not own. I listened to it once back in the 80's after Taking Over came out, but I just never bought it. I think its time to add it to the collection.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

etain lavena-They are actually still around. They were on the Gigantour this past fall with Megadeth.

Rockdog-The vocals are great.

Sgt. Fluffy-Taking over was the first one I heard. I think this one is better though.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't get allot of tours that come this side, last year Metallica came here....whoohoo.....guess we r just not on any tour list....the worst part is we will fill any stadium there is allot of metal heads here!!!!

12:15 AM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

I seen the overkill albums around, I just never ventured a listen. I'll check this one out.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

OMG, ya'll, get into Overkill at once! This was a good writeup, Mark, about one of my very favorite thrash bands of all-time. I've interviewed both Blitz and Gustafson and they have interesting and conflicting views about each other and the direction of the band, but yes, they continue to put out quality albums. I have a slew of Overkill photos I took at the Trocodero in Philly if anyone wants to gander.

Also, three members of Overkill outside of Blitz and DD are in a wicked cool band called Speed Kill Hate. Brutal and entertaining. And DD has his side project that I can't come up with right now, though I reviewed their last album, which was good.

I wish I had my Taking Over shirt still. My favorite Overkill memory is when Mark and I walked around with my boom box blaring "Deny the Cross" at this rather conservative 4th of July picnic. God, that was the best.

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