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Review originally published at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
For those that don’t know, in the mid/late 90’s Overcast were a respected crossover/hardcore/metalcore band who had a couple of somewhat revered albums and EPs that some considered the start of the early metalcore movement (not the trite fashion show of today). However, when the band split up in 1996, vocalist Brian Fair joined Shadows Fall (after Phil Labonte left to form All That Remains) and guitarist Pete Cortese and bassist Mike D’Antonio went on to help form Killswitch Engage as well as Seemless -maybe you’ve heard of those three bands?
Well, these folks along with original members, drummer Jay Fitzgerald and guitarist Scott McCooe have reunited to record 11 of their ‘classic’ songs as well as two new tracks. And while I never heard the original material, I can say that while I enjoy the music that Overcast create, it simply sounds like left over material from Shadow’s Fall Recording sessions. While that’s wholly in part to Fair’s unique voice and cadence (which I have never really cared for), which sounds exactly the same as his Shadows Fall output, the music itself isn’t as effective, passionate or energetic as their peers as the time, namely the likes of Earth Crisis, Vision of Disorder, Integrity, Turmoil and such. Also, those, hoping for something that sounds like Killswitch Engage due to the former member and current member, should be warned there is little current KsE contained in Overcast’s sound as its more of a mid paced metallic hardcore meets thrash amalgamation rather than dueling melodic guitars and soaring vocals.
That all being said, there is a refreshing simplicity and honesty to the material, despite its heavy Shadow’s Fall aura. The songs flow with a polished metallic sheen, but I don’t know how that compares to the original releases, which I imagine were a nit rougher. There’s no breakdowns, no blast beats (except a brief one in “For Indifference”), just a steady stream of gruff, lurching riffs with a choppy Bay Area backbone and a smidgeon of hardcore attitude thrown in. On the whole though none of the tracks, even the two unreleased ones (”Reborn to Kill Again” and “Root Bound Apollo”), just seem to lack that feral antagonism and snarl that made their peers a little more appealing and fresh 10 years ago. Again, I don’t know how the original recordings sound, but with a bright new re-recording budget and Adam Dutkiewicz production, I imagine this is pretty clean and polished in comparison to the original. Either way, the tracks to me, (admittedly after listening to Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage for many years in their own right) still sound like tracks rejected for Shadows Fall’s albums.
Now I admit, 10 years ago, that would not have been the case, but I still feel Overcast (now or then) don’t measure up to other bands of the era as far as the intensity and structure of the music as I honestly found myself rather bored, despite trying hard to appreciate some long lost gems from a supposedly influential act. The truth is, if Overcast members had not gone on to form the other famous acts, I doubt this re-recording would have seen the light of day an if it had, no-one would have really batted an eyelid.