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Avoids a burial in the groove graveyard. - 70%

hells_unicorn, July 12th, 2010

It’s a foregone conclusion that classic 80s Overkill is superior to it’s modern 90s counterpart, but what is often missed by those who dismiss the latter era is that modern 90s Overkill is superior to about 80% of what flies under the modern groove moniker. Even when at their most groovy, overly polished, slowed down extreme, this New York outfit can’t help but keep their heads above the raw sewage that is radio oriented music. Of their various offerings from this era, save perhaps “I Hear Black”, “From The Underground And Below” flirts the heaviest with Zakk Wylde territory, but still manages to possess a charm that its late 90s contemporaries largely lacked.

From the first thudding note of “It Lives”, which is among the more thrashing grooves to be found on here, it is clear that Blitz, D.D. and company are taking a set of ideas from recent works out of Ozzy, Metallica, Machine Head and a few others and attaching some metallic balls to them. Some of the chugging riffs that filter in and out sound somewhat akin to riffs heard on “Load” or “Ozzmosis”, minus the muddiness and plus a whole lot of punch. “Save Me” takes a few notes from Ozzy’s “Miracle Man” both lyrically and musically, but removing the 80s elements in favor of a Pantera-like feel. Sometimes things get bluesy like in the case of “Long Time Dyin’”, while at others there’s a strong intercession of hardcore into the mix such as in “F.U.C.T.”, but the overall attitude of every song tends to stick to the classic middle finger approach common to the time period.

Generally this approach to metal, at best, is worthy of a lukewarm reception, but a few elements at play here making this a fairly praiseworthy release. Blitz has not forgotten how to carry a tune the way Phil Anselmo did, and delivers solid performance on every song found on here. The guitar solo has not been fully discarded to make nice with radio-friendly maggots that were eating up “Stomp 442” and “The More Things Change”. Further still, much as with the previous album and the follow up “Necroshine”, the presence of famed Liege Lord and Annihilator vocalist Jon Comeau ads a unique flavor to the mix. Being one of the more versatile vocalists occupying the power/speed/thrash styles, when not emulating Rob Halford or Harry Conklin, Jon does a solid job going in similar vocal circles to Blitz. His contribution to “F.U.C.T.”, which is a de facto duet between the two, delivers twice the garbled sleaze and anger with little accounting for subtlety.

With perhaps the exception of the extremely lame power ballad “Promises”, which sounds almost sappy enough have been on an early 90s Annihilator album or maybe even a more recent Motley Crue release, this is a consistent collection of songs. It’s not the sort of thing that should be broken out every day or even every week to complement one’s daily intake of metal, unless it’s to bring credibility to a sorry day of gobbling up groove metal; but it is a good token groove album for fans of purer forms of thrash metal. There’s bound to be a bargain bin somewhere in every major locality with a copy of this in need of rescuing, so why not blow 7-9 bucks on something that’s decent enough.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on July 12, 2010.