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Expectations for Overkill were not high after the release of RelixIV, an album that I actually was quite fond of myself. Most fans considered it a bit of a relapse after the band appeared to finally find an acceptable modern sound which sat well with both old and new fans in Killbox 13. Two years later the New Jersey / New Yorkers brought us their fifteenth opus, Immortalis. Many lauded this release as a prodigious return to the band's thrashy roots, an honor which retroactively belongs to the far superior Ironbound. In my opinion, Immortalis fails on virtually all fronts, and may be the least appealing Overkill release of all time, with less of an identity than even I Hear Black.
Just like Bloodletting, this album suffers from a heinous lack of memorability. So many of these tracks are complete throwaways, with nothing even bordering on good riffs or surprise elements. Many of these tracks are defined by a largely mid-paced approach infused with more of a hard-rock and bluesy influence in the guitar and vocal departments. There are occasional thrash breaks, most notably in the opener and fifth installment of the "Overkill" saga, but not nearly enough to satiate the average Overkill fan. This mid-paced approach requires a memorable vocal performance to keep the ordeal interesting, and Bobby Blitz can always be relied on for a great, sleazy vocal onslaught. Even his worst is enough to keep some of the slower cuts above water. In my review for Killbox 13 I noted that while Blitz perfected his lower-register, gravely inflection on said album, I wasn't a fan of the way he tinkered with his approach later on. Immortalis is a good example, as some of these bluesy lines come off as forced and insincere. I wish he would return to the operatic approach from the Taking Over days, although I suppose he just isn't capable of such a performance anymore.
The production just sucks. In contrast to RelixIV which was also self-produced and featured an awesome, gritty guitar sound with bold chords and a natural drum mix, Immortalis' guitars come off as gutted and weak. It almost sounds like too much mid-range, which doesn't mix well at all with Ron Lipnicki's triggered kit. The bass performance is shockingly soulless, especially coming from the great DD Verni. Despite the obligatory bass breaks and volume boosts in strategic spots, the bass is inaudible, an unusual choice for Overkill, a band known for adopting the bass as a main catalyst in the overall mix. Blitz is mixed fairly well, however, and isn't so uncomfortably up-front as he has been in recent albums. Lipnicki is the highlight here, a massive improvement over Tim Mallare, who failed to impress much at all during his twelve-year tenure with the group.
With so little going for it, Immortalis seals it's fate by featuring boring songwriting. In rare cases, the mid-paced approach works in cuts such as "Hellish Pride", which has a good amount of balls due to a potent main riff. "Skull and Bones" does feature some good riffs as well, but is atom-bombed by the unwise inclusion of harsh vocals, courtesy of Randy Blythe. The song isn't nearly as bad as people make it out to be, it simply falls in line with the majority of the tracks here, being insipid and not worthy of the Overkill name. "Head On" has some more passable riffs, but an unusually painful vocal performance by Blitz continues the long line of disappointments here. I am not a fan of the Linsk / Tailer duo, and this album features their lackluster riff craft at its worst. Even the solos fail to inspire, which was one of the highlights of RelixIV, the supposed inferior album of the two.
Immortalis isn't worth even a passing glance, a statement I never expected to include in an Overkill review. Even the much-maligned I Hear Black at least had a consistent atmosphere and one or two memorable tracks; a feat which isn't replicated here. What is perhaps most mind blowing about the whole affair is how so many individuals claim this as a great "thrash comeback", when in fact it is the worst of the groove period of Overkill's discography. Straight to the bargain bin it goes.
Immortalis is yet another bromidic kick in the balls from the once and future greats Overkill, another costly studio exercise which fails to expand or elevate the brand in any meaningful way beyond fattening up their discography. Once again, Chaly is represented on the cover in a fairly uninspired pose, like he's locking onto some off-screen prey, but I like to think of it as the winged skull barking out his discontent at the band for producing yet another of those albums which abandons the listener's memory almost as soon or he/she has first experienced it. But hey, at least we're doing with the proper color palette this time out, and even if Immortalis seems like it's just doing the rounds in some hamster wheel of midlife thrasher crisis, it at least feels more enthusiastic than its direct predecessor ReliXIV.
Which is not saying a hell of a lot, because once again we've got an album of relatively average thrash with interesting riffs in a severely limited quantity, infected with groove metal and rock & roll influences that were never this band's forte and will never play to their strength. I've said it a thousand times before, that I've got no real problem with the 'concept' of groove metal, or even its execution. I enjoy Chaos A.D. much to the chagrin of any underground consensus, and I like how bands like Gojira or Meshuggah implement the simpler, meatier riffing structures into something you can quake your limbs to. The 'breakdown' was a wonderful technique used through the 80s in both hardcore and early speed/thrash metal, and there are still hundreds of bands in the 21st century which use it well. But when I hear some cheap, dense Pantera Far Beyond Driven style passage as in "Skull and Bones", with the lame interchange of post-Anselmo pundit Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Bobby Blitz sounding his street-est, I begin to laugh out of control. No sir, I do not like that singer or his band and the Overkill capable of writing "Deny the Cross" and "Rotten to the Core" does not fucking need this in any form or fashion!
Granted, this isn't that Overkill, but it's still difficult to conceive of Immortalis as anything but a 'last gasp' of the less inspired and inspiring beast they devolved into through the 90s, especially taking into account the two albums they have since released. New drummer Ron Lipnicki arrives in full force, with some strong double bass skills and chops that seem a suitable replacement for long-term thunderer Tim Mallare, and like any album the band released in the past 10-15 years, the production here is meaty and more potent than the actual music written. There are a few classier riffs here than the previous album, like the trad metal bits in "Hellish Pride" or the surgical, unexpected thrashing that breaks out in "Overkill V" (which gives us a nice foreshadowing of Ironbound), but the overwhelming majority of songs written for this seem to lack that certain 'something' which made the band so special in the Gustafson era. It's pretty much stock biker thrash, a spiritual vessel for the core Overkill aesthetics that settles safely into its mooring without ever taking a glimpse beyond the docks.
That doesn't make it poorly implemented, because it's clear the guitars have a decent grasp on their bluesy, wailing leads, and there's a little more of a furnace lit under its ass than ReliXIV. Only a few tunes like "Skull and Bones" and "Head On" suck outright, where others like "Shadow of a Doubt" seem like a hint of what's to come when the band return to their senses. D.D. Verni is not much of a presence here in comparison to the old days where you almost felt you needed to turn him down, but I'm not sure these songs deserve much effort on his behalf. Blitz turns in a slightly more venomous and taunting performance here than the last album, but he's still not screeching out those amazing, sticky choruses he once manifest in "Elimination", "I Hate" or "Electro-Violence". I hardly had high expectations for this, since Killbox 13 was, for me, the only album they'd written since the 80s that balanced on the precipice of success, but it still creates the cloying consistency of sack breath despite never fully choking off its own genitalia. The law of averages once again upheld.
It is a relatively safe bet that if you liked “ReliXIV” that this will also sit well with you, because from a stylistic standpoint they are basically the same album. All of the fan boys who fellated this as some sort of godly return to form from the band’s heyday in the 80s obviously weren’t listening to this album or haven’t heard the early classics, because this clearly has that same characteristic half-Thrash character to it. Perhaps they were focusing only on the first and last song on here, because everything in between is about as far removed from speed/thrash as you can get. The riffs are stripped down and presented in a sort of “Black Album” fashion, but without the perpetual slowness and an occasional riff that emulates “Vulgar Display Of Power” or a section that sounds a little like Alice In Chains.
When dealing with a slower and barer version of thrash, everything hinges on a superior and versatile vocal performance, which Blitz has always been able to deliver on. He is able to pull of those really vile and sleazy shouts with relative ease despite his aging voice, he can put forth that percussive rapid syllable spew that was a staple of faster 80s thrash ala Dark Angel and Vio-Lence, and he can tone it down and be melodic without sounding tone deaf. This really comes in handy on highly repetitive groove songs like “Hellish Pride” and “Head On’, which basically bang out and repeat a very small number of short-lived mid-tempo riffs like a broken record, yet remain interesting because of Blitz’s vocal bombardment. Where Pantera fails due to sounding vocally ridiculous, Overkill enjoys a good level of success for not trying to overdo the tough guy posturing.
Naturally there are some questionable moments on here that were not heard on the last album, most of them localized to the infamous “Skull And Bones”. I wouldn’t quite call this the worst Overkill song I’ve ever heard, but it’s down near the bottom with “Shades Of Gray” and “Ignorance And Innocence”. With the exception of a pretty solid verse riff, this song can’t seem to stop borrowing ideas from Pantera’s “Mouth For War” and even occasionally from some of the really banal grunge material heard on Anthrax’s “Sound Of White Noise”. Randall Blythe’s pseudo death grunts are a pretty powerful annoyance, but this song is basically an all around failure, with or without the vocalist from a band regularly derided by old school thrash fans as a joke making things worse.
But aside from this and the slight flaw of a riff collection that feels small compared to older classics, this is basically a solid album. “Charlie Get Your Gun” and “Shadow Of A Doubt” are your standard quality thrash as heard in the early 90s, maybe a bit less riff work and intrigue than those crazy Bay Area bands in the 80s, but still highly enjoyable. “Devils In The Mist” ratchets thing up even further and kicks this into all out 80s thrash mode, blistering forth at full speed, reliving the spirit of “The Years Of Decay”. Perhaps the album’s chief problem with keeping their core fans happy is that they’ve been starting off their albums with a riveting opener and get their hopes up that a whole album of this awaits them. They finish things off a bit stronger this time around with a surprising revisiting of the “Overkill” saga. The fifth installment seems to go back to the simplicity of the original a bit more, rather than going for the longwinded epic approach heard on parts 2 and 3, let alone the chilling atmospherics and technical lead guitar gymnastics of “Evil Never Dies”. But regardless of lacking a guitar solo or a long duration, it thrashes things up with almost the same intensity as the album’s opener and makes a pretty solid use of creepy atmospherics to make the listener aware that evil still looms despite an 18 year absence.
Essentially all of this album’s detractors, as well as their champions are dead wrong. This is neither a classic return to form nor a fatal plunge, it’s simply an upper mid-grade release with a few classic songs, which seems to be the worst that Overkill can do given their track record. It’s a worthy pickup if you aren’t 100% committed to defending the orthodoxy of thrash as it was established from 1983 to 1991, but unless you’re one of those weird guys who can listen to both crappy groove/metalcore and thrash metal without hating the former or viewing the latter as an obsolete art form, skip over “Skull And Bones” and enjoy most of the rest of this album. You’ll thank me later for sparing you the pain of hearing a great band of seasoned veterans sound like a bunch of amateurs while giving a real novice the illusion of metal credibility with a guest slot.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 27, 2009.
Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s voice is a little squamous with age, but it’s still recognizably the whiskey-and-cigarette addled rasp of yore. The riffs are tight and stomping, cast in the traditional Overkill mould. With Verni’s clanky bass still cutting through the mix at strategic points, and in firm lockstep with the drums, it doesn’t matter that much who’s manning the axes, as long as the current incumbents do a decent job.
With all the expected elements in place, all that’s left is for the album to prove its songwriting power. On this front, there isn’t a lot to complain about, but not much to write home about either. Some songs have an undeniable presence, like ‘Devils In The Mist’, a suitably crushing opening blow with some super screams at the end, ‘Hell Is’, which is possibly the most ferocious track on the album, ‘Walk Through Fire’ which is mostly mid-paced but bloody venomous, or ‘Overkill V...the Brand’, another addition to the ongoing saga which has some nice changes and a good buildup. But there isn’t enough of that balls-to-the-wall thrashing vibe. There’s this moderate chug that tends to weigh down the songs, until many of them seem to take far too long to do anything really exciting, and some of them never really move out of a comfort zone of generic groove riffing with Blitz snarling it out over the top.
Overkill deserve a big thumbs-up for sticking to their sound all these years. They also need a few swift kicks to the rear, because they’re phoning it in a bit. A little more focus, a little more speed, for crying out loud, and this one could have easily been a winner, instead of just a worthy contender.
Overkill, who arguably started thrash, are still running strong, and relase yet another good album, in the form of Immortalis. About two months ago, I've had the pleasure of seeing this band live, (they kickass live, by the way.) While I was at the show, I picked up this new cd. Later that night, I popped it into my cd player and was pleased by what I heard. Overkill indeed still know how to thrash, and Bobby Blitz is still an awesome singer, as he demonstrates here (listen to that scream he pulls off in Devils in the Mist.) The other members pull their weight as well. Occasionally, there are groove moments on this album, as was most of their previous albums, but they keep it to a minimum on this album, for the most part, it's straight up ball out thrash fucking metal.
Devils In The Mist, Skull and Bones, Hell Is, and Overkill V are in my opinion, the best songs on this album. Devils in the Mist is the album opener, and they pull it off quite nicely. As Mr. Boris said, you really can't fuck up an album opener, and this song is no exception. It thrashes like crazy, and as I said earlier, that scream that Blitz pulls off is awesome. Skull and Bones features Lamb of God's Randy Blythe. Randy's growls and Bobby's singing compliment each other pretty nicely, and trade off lines which is pretty cool. This song does have groove moments, but their done right on this song, and it by no means stops the thrash at all. Hell Is is a catchy and fun number with nice riffs. Overkill V is obviously part five to the Overkill saga, and it's pulled off quite nicely. It's actually one of my favorite songs from the five. The riffs are there, and sound heavier as well.
The only two weak tracks on this album are Hellish Pride and Head On. Both songs are pretty dull and have too much groove. These two tracks bring the score down a bit, but don't hurt it too much. For the most part, Overkill show that they still know how to make your head bang with thrash fucking metal, and great riffs. This may not be the most original album ever, but it's still solid. Overkill aren't dead yet, because EVIL NEVER DIIIIIES!!!!!!!!
I'll adlib J1993B a bit, I was sorta expecting this to sound like their last, and was hoping a change in sound would emerge. I heard Skull and Bones and thought "holy shit, did Blitz split in two?" until a mate told me it was that Lamb of God dude. This song is arguably the best song on here, its just constantly heavy or fast. The entire album is too, with the age old spirit of Fuck You written all over the damn place.
The riffs are solid, as always, but this contains something Killbox had and Relix did not. Evolving and aimed to piss off people I'd imagine. The drumming on this, combined with DD's awesome driving lines, is off the wall. Ron Lipnicki makes his presence felt, sounds like he listened to a lot of big Tim plus some solid thrash, and his playing shows this. Blitz sounds off the wall too, haven't heard him sound this pissed in a while, and he is hitting multiple fucking styles of shouting singing whatevering. Personally, I loved this dude ever since I heard him thinking "fuck this guy sounds like Bon," but that's probably because I'm an aussie.
"Hellish Pride" sounds like trad eighties metal mixed with that NY stomp. Sounds pretty pissed off at Jesus too. The first track demonstrates Linsk's ability to play solid leads and serves as a pretty fucking awesome album opener. "Head On" contains a perfect intro into distortion, and boy is that riff crushing. It really does have a massive Persistence of Time stamp written all over it, and its headbangingly awesome. "Charlie" sounds like this too, blended with some Anthrax-like humour. 1:50 to 2:20 has a great little riff section, followed by a nice shift into speed and then a freaking awesome sounding solo. "Hell Is" sounds friggin bipolar, it shifts from slow n heavy to fucking nuts when you don't think it will. Overkill V: The Brand serves as a great album closer and a great statement too: We're still pissed off.
Heh, funny that this band wrote a song Old School, and Megadeth wrote a song Back In The Day. Both bands probably hate the saaaaame drummer. This album sounds pretty fucking pissed off and thrashy as a result, so fuck yeah. Beers up!
First off, I'd like to say how much this album surprised me. I thought this would be another mediocre release, like "Relixiv". Instead, this is probably their darkest and heaviest album since "The Years of Decay". . .
"Devils in the Mist" kicks things off with a bang. It sounds a lot like "A Pound of Flesh" from "Relixiv", but faster! The verses are also very Slayer-like (guitar wise)."What It Takes" is very, very heavy. It starts with a simple single-chord riff, and then turns into one hell of a thrasher! The verses in this song sound almost exactly like those found on “Loaded Rack” of “Relixiv”. It’s almost like a combination of Pantera and Gustafson-era Overkill."Skull & Bones" is yet another great thrasher, though a bit slower than the last two. It features vocals from Randy Blythe of "Lamb of God", along with Blitz. They sound like exact opposites, but the combination works great here. The screaming in this song by Blythe is very death metal-like.Then there's "Hellish Pride" a cool song with an evil as hell chorus that also contains some acoustics to add to the feeling of darkness. It's probably the 2nd slowest song here. "Hellish Pride" also reminds me of the intro to "80 Cycles" (Off of “Necroshine”), riff-wise.A sweet bass intro brings us to "Head On", the slowest song here. I personally like it, but I can imagine why others wouldn't. It is also very doom, more than "Hellish Pride". But this song does get kind of faster before the solo, which is another great one. Great, sludgy, riffs throughout this one."Hell Is" is yet another doom-type song, but after the doom verses comes the lightning fast chorus. A unique but heavy song, and another great vocal performance on this one, too. Those backup vocals yelling "We condemned!" are catchy as hell!Here it is: "Overkill V. . . The Brand", probably Overkill's darkest song yet. Blitz shows his evilest vocals on here, and the guitar duo of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer play the heaviest riffs on the album. “The Brand” is, in my opinion, the best song of the Overkill series.
Now then, on to the production. The guitars are the loudest part of the mix. This is good when it comes to the rhythms, but the solos are way too loud. This is a huge complaint on the intros to “Chalie Get You Gun” and “Hell Is”. DD Verni’s bass is pretty audible for the most part, and it doesn’t always follow the guitars! Hooray for originality! Lipnicki’s drums are insane. God, this guy plays like a gorilla on crack! (That’s a good thing!) My only complaint with the drums is that they sound too weak. Finally, Blitz’s voice is what makes this album so dark and evil. He still has the high-pitched voice that we all know and love, but he sings in a deeper voice for the most part here. This is probably best demonstrated on “Hellish Pride” and “Overkill V”. In other words, the production is a whole lot better than that of “Relixiv”.
All in all, this is probably Overkill’s best album containing guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer, if not their best ever.
What does it take to call this album an "old-school thrash album" or a "decent album", for that matter? Well, it surely takes 4 tons of hairy platinum BALLS to classify this piece of batshit as either of those aforementioned.
It is very intriguing how Overkill became one of the top-notch bands in thrash. I could understand why Exodus, Ulysses Siren or Vio-Lence were big names, but Overkill? Except the albums that had preceded Horrorscope (and none of them was a truly great album except Feel The Fire), all they did was releasing diluted thrash stuff. Seldom has Overkill's music felt as if something really agressive or really impassionate was going on. All these years, their brand of thrash was pretty weak and fade, except Blitz's pissed-off vocals, maybe the most tolerable thing in the combination. They were one of the first bands, yes. They wore leather jackets and hair down to their asses, and had very "socially-involved" (aka fuck the government, the politicians, the businessmen and my hair stuck in the guitar) lyrics. The most interesting thing is that in MANY cases , including Overkill's, you may have the attitude, the fine musicianship, the social commentary, but still suck.
This album is a flawlessly released tombstone (remember - tombstone, not testament) to the career of one of the most well-esteemed bands in thrash and metal. Every minute of boredom and disappointment has been prepared so ferociously, that one can only imagine what unidimensional, sad material is awaiting for his or her ears. Simply put, no fucking thrash. Just grooves and plodding wankage. Black Sabbath would be ashamed if they composed such riffs even while dreaming.
No sustained fast tempos, they just sound as flat as ever, aided by the production. The riffs have lots of low-end effects, and such crap (. If this is metal, I wonder how Tokio Hotel or RBD didn't make it into the archives. The band has no strength on any of these songs, and when you listen to the formulaic couplets that they proudly present, the most predictable reaction is to wait until they end. It's so narcoleptic, that you can't even find the wish to hit the Stop button. Everything passes so peacefully, the solos, the angry singing, the music... Mid-tempo is home on this release. I mean, yeah, the drummer does some fast drum fills, can't you get it more badass, though? Are drum fills the only moment for you to try your hand at the real thing?
The melodies? Excuse me, thrash mayhems? They're nothing but screwy punk/groove. Lest we forget that good punk music shits on this songwriting or riffing. The guitar tone is (unfortunately) very similar to the tone on Root's Black Seal. That means Overkill used a tone that weaved true epics to wrap some burgers. The bass is neglected, leaving room to riffing idiocracy.
Oh, and chief vocalizer Blitz... he should be rockin' his chair. He doesn't hit the high notes he used to, and he sounds sometimes like a will-be-soon Hetfield. Just hear him screamin' on What It Takes (which also contains a gem of a shitty main riff), and you'll be sobbing in compassion. A very interesting case is the case of Skull And Bones. Do you realize that Lamb Of God actually managed to pull out killer albums? For example, As The Palaces Burn. It's killer material compared to ReliXIV or Necroshine or this. Well, Blythe takes the cake in this song. He sounds almost inhuman, while Blitz makes this sound like an Aqua song: "come on Blitzie, let's go party...". Not to mention that the lyrics are pure genius. "Give me your love, give me your money..."? "Why don't you come for a ride, I got a hellish pride"? Blitz, you sexy motherfucker, you just ain't the perfect gigolo. And you spice your blabbermouth tests with "sweet Jesus" and "sweet mother Mary".
And last but not least: you may be wondering, what can this waste of plastic serve for? It can serve to certify the fact that you're a fan of thrash metal, and thus gain creds amongst ignorants. Or it can be a pretty good tits'n'asses catalyst. You'll be the god of the metal chick that you found in the toilet yesterday, or of any chick that wants a hardcore dude to raise her in the eyes of her mates. Except these, this album has no utility, no value. All we can do is pray that Overkill's label doesn't waste any more dough on such recordings. Amen, and R.I.P. Overkill.
Oh come on, don't say you expected Overkill to get their shit together and release a good album. No offense to them, they were a fucking top band back in their heyday like so many of their thrashing brethren but honest to fucking god I will cry blood from my eyes and penis should I be submitted to yet another fucking 'modern' thrash album by an 80's thrash band. 'Immortalis' joins 'Shovel Headed Kill Machine' and 'Christ Illusion' as yet another over-rated 'return to their roots' album, which means that it's mostly some groove metal with one great thrash song and some good parts scattered around the other songs like the charred remains of an Imperial Guard regiment accidentally hit by a barrage of Basilisk fire (geek knowledge skill up!).
The most obvious fact that this album was going to be terrible, besides the fact it's released in 2007, is that Randy Blythe sings alongside Blitz on the song 'Skull and Bones'. For the uninformed I believe Lamb of God to be nothing more than post-Vulgar Display of Power Pantera played on a metalcore template; they're a terrible aberration and I weep every time someone calls them 'thrash' or 'a good band'. The song in question is also quite shit being a monotonous groove riff repeated ad inifinitum, a sub par solo and heaven fucking forbid, a breakdown. Not a thrash break but an actual breakdown, with Randy Blythe screaming over the top of this section I started having 'Nam styled flashbacks to the time I listened to a LoG album just to review it.
"Devils in the Mist" is the only good song on the entire album because its thrash fucking metal, there's only a couple of riffs but they recall of days long gone and much headbanging ensues. There's a nice little thrash break where we get to hear the bass guitar for the first and pretty much the last time for the entire album, and the solo is awesome. The rest of the album is fairly bland otherwise, there are just no real ass-kicking riffs and for the most part it's either fast or plodding groove metal with no balls to it, it's not the Overkill we've come to know and love. Sometimes the songs will alternate between a fast and slow riff which gets pretty irritating since you want them to thrash the fuck out but instead they piss around in 'shitty groove riff land' for a good 40 seconds or even longer, wasting your time. The only other notable songs are probably "Head On" which has a few riffs and a decent solo in it despite the mediocre chorus and "Charlie Get Your Gun" has a short solo that works really well and even the two riffs afterwards have a good deal of speed and aggression to them. "Overkill V" is the most disappointing in the Overkill series of songs having only two good riffs and the rest of the song being much like the rest of the album; very fucking bland, especially that meandering outro.
Really that's all I can say about this album, its bland bland bland. I've listened to this album about five times now, twice of those times I've made sure to sit there and focus all my attention on it but even after the time investment there's nothing that really comes to mind except with regards to the first song which is great. Overkill can still play their instruments, the guitars aren't too down tuned and the tone is still rather crunchy, Blitz is a great vocalist who still sounds rough but even does some more rather odd clean singing in some of the choruses throughout. The entire album is like going to fancy restaurant and eating a some sort of high priced but amazingly delicious entrée only to find out that for the main course all you're allowed to eat is imitation gruel (9/10 orphans can't tell the difference!) followed by a dessert consisting of a single frozen banana. Bearing in mind you're still paying 'fancy restaurant' prices, the great entrée doesn't really compensate for the shit-tastic main course and for the dessert leaving you feeling a bit cold.
Let us hope immortality does not grace Overkill's career if they continue to peddle shitty groove metal records like this one.
…but perhaps now is a good time to consider retirement.
For a very long it was common knowledge that if you wanted to listen to a solid metal album, Overkill a band you could always count on. Of course the albums released between 1985’s Feel The Fire and 1991’s Horrorscope will forever be their best (and some of the best thrash ever recorded), but even when they added groove elements (usually suicide for a thrash band) they managed to remain enjoyable. Despite not sounding like thrash, they still managed to sound like Overkill. So they released a whopping thirteen good albums (I Hear Black being the weakest of the bunch, but still fairly enjoyable in places). All this until 2005’s ReliXIV.
ReliXIV was a shock to me, as it got rid of what made all of Overkill’s previous albums so enjoyable: the catchiness. For the most part, the hooks just totally failed to be memorable, the riffs failed to go much beyond the typical mallcore crap and the songwriting came across as just lazy. It had a song or two that were enjoyable, but nothing that could possibly be put alongside their best work. Despite this, I still had high hopes for Immortalis. Afterall, Overkill rebounded from the mediocre I Hear Black with 1994’s awesome W.F.O., so surely they could do it again.
Sadly, they didn’t.
For the most part, the album goes in one direction most of the time. The riffs just aren’t interesting at all. They tend to play in the same mallcore-ish as ReliXIV, with very little thrash (or anything particularly good) to be found. The guitar solos tend to be very well done, and work well, but sadly they don’t distract from the poor riffs. The drumming is typical, but not horrible. It doesn’t astound me, but it does the job. The bass work is basically what you’d expect from D.D. Verni. But perhaps the most disappointing thing about this album is Bobby Blitz’s vocals. Usually he gives every single vocal part his all, and sounds like he’s having a blast. Much of the time on this album, he just sounds bored. It’s unfortunate, because when he’s trying, he sounds as good as ever. Too bad for most of the album it sounds like he’s just going through the motions. The fact that the rest of the band sound this way doesn’t help matters.
Things start off on a high note with Devils in the Mist. Well, actually, things start off with a minute of a stupid intro, which then leads into the high note. It kind of sounds like it wants to be the intro to Necroshine, but it isn’t anywhere near as good and just comes off as a bad copy. Anyways, this leads into a solid thrash riff which is used under the verse which is pretty memorable. Blitz sounds good here, as usual. Things keep picking up once we get to the chorus, which is damn catchy and, well, it’s a typical Overkill chorus. Easy to sing along to and is damn effective. “THY KINGDOM COME! HE CAME TO FEAR IT!” Good stuff. The break after the second chorus is good as well. Very typical Overkill stuff and very well done. This is a great song, and a great way to open the album.
We now go into What It Takes. What It Takes? It takes a hell of a lot more than crap like this song, that’s for sure. This song is just dumb. There’s no other way to put it. There’s nothing catcy or particularly memorable about it. It just kind of goes on with generic riffs and lame hooks that totally fail every single time. The backup vocals in this song are insipid. “HERE WE GO NOW!” and “ONE TWO THREE FOUR!” Fuck, it’s the kind of thing Limp Bizkit does to disguise their crappy songs as catchy. It doesn’t work for them, and it sure as hell doesn’t work here. This is just bad. Very similar to a lot of the stuff that was on ReliXIV: too much fucking groove, but nowhere near catchy enough to be worth listening to.
Skull And Bones is up next, and this song thought it would be funny to make me think it had been mislabeled. It sounds like Lamb of God. I’m hardly laughing. Who labeled some crappy LoG song as an Overkill song? This can’t possibly be Overkill. Sure enough, there’s Blitz doing vocals. Well, this song is pretty wretched, just like the last one. The “hooks” just come off as a bad attempt to be catchy, while failing miserably. And as if things aren’t bad enough, we get to the second chorus, in which they decide to sound EVEN MORE like Lamb of God: they get Lamb of God’s vocalist to do vocals. The only thing worse than Bobby Blitz singing a Lamb of God song is the vocalist for Lamb of God singing the same one. I can’t believe Overkill actually put this crap together. This is actually unlistenable. It goes for about 6 minutes, making this the longest song on the album. The fact that it exists is bad enough, but that it is longer than anything else on here is criminal. This song is completely without value and is easily the worst thing Overkill have ever recorded. I have no idea what this song was trying to accomplish, but I think I can safely say that it failed.
Shadow of a Doubt opens with a really annoying riff. Is this the same band who recorded Evil Never Dies? I’m sure having a hard time believing. Blitz sounds bored on this one, and how could he not? This song follows in the same style as the last two: poor riffs, annoying hooks and stupid groove where stupid groove is unneeded galore. The chorus here sounds like Devil By The Tail gone totally wrong. Whereas that song, while hardly a thrash song, was memorable and was fun to listen to, this song is grating. They manage to throw a really stupid breakdown in here too. “SIX! SIX! SIX!” in between stupid mallcore riffage is not what I want from Overkill. Things pick up slightly at about 2:49 or so, when they have a solo break (sandwiched between a really crappy verse). The riff behind the solo isn’t half bad, so this is vastly improved from the rest of the song. So it alternates between the solos (good) and the verses (crap). We return to the same crap as the first 2 minutes after this and it stays that way until the end. Once again, how this shit was considered acceptable by the band is beyond me, but it’s not acceptable at all.
Hellish Pride actually has a decent intro that, while not really good, doesn’t make me want to kill myself. However, they soon find out that this intro is okay, so they change it immediately to some shitty groove song. It sounds like a half-assed Pantera riff (considering how half-assed Pantera were, should I call this quarter-assed?) and the verses they have to go with it is hardly any better. The lyrics are beyond horrid (“Sweet Jesus in the midnight sun”) which surely matches the music. Blitz, who sounded good early on in the album, now just sounds like he’s going through the motions to collect a paycheck, as do the rest of the band.
Walk Through Fire has two riffs: a verse riff and a chorus riff. Neither is good. The verse riff sounds like the kind of crap that usually gets played on modern rock radio, not what I want to hear on an Overkill album. This sounds like a lost Nickelback song, not a song by the Wrecking Crew. It doesn’t go anywhere, really. It just kind of plods along at the same midtempo for about 4 minutes. Which is far too long for a song with out 4 seconds of ideas in it.
Head On actually begins with a cool intro. It has a clean guitar riff that reminds me of Bastard Nation from W.F.O. Well, basically it has a clean guitar riff that is basically a rip-off of Bastard Nation. But I’ve always like that song, so I’m not complaining, especially once the distortion kicks in and we come back to the same Lamb of God sounding crap we’ve had to endure for most of the album. The chorus here is much like most of the choruses on the album: awful. This is just forgettable. I don’t want shitty breakdowns or mallcore riffs. I want thrash! There’s a riff that sounds like it has potential to be decent after the second chorus. Sadly it just goes into the same stupid shit that’s inhabited the rest of the song. And such stupid lyrics too: “Come on now baby shine a light on me”. Christ, this song sucks. We go back to the shitty chorus after and then it ends.
Up next is perhaps the stupidest song title since Exodus’s Shroud of Urine: Charlie Get Your Gun. Despite the balls-witheringly bad song title, the song is shockingly not balls-witheringly bad. It isn’t very good, but at least it doesn’t totally suck, like most of the songs on here. It begins with a drum solo that reminds me of the one for Thanx For Nothin’, only not as good. The riff following this is fairly typical of the album, but a little better. The verse has a stupid stop-start riff. Overkill fails to remember the first rule of stop-start riffs which is, that 99 times out of a hundred, stop-start riffs suck. Shockingly, things pick up with the chorus. This is actually fairly well done. It fails to remind me of, say, Coma or Thanx For Nothin’, but at least it’s fairly catchy. The break after the second chorus isn’t too bad. It’s catchy, which is saying more than most of this album. I’m not going to lie: I actually kind of dig this song. There’s a fairly thrashy riff under the solo, and then we’re back to the catchy mid break. I’m actually shocked by how much I managed to like this song. Shit, this album was in need of something listenable.
Hell Is is next. Which begins with a slow groove riff that just sucks. Things get even worse for the verse, which features a riff that just annoys me for reasons I can’t quite figure out, but I can’t stand. Amazingly the chorus uses a thrash riff. Sadly, Blitz kind of sucks here, so it makes you forget the riff. You can tell he just doesn’t give a shit by this point of the album, so even the decent parts suffer from it. Sadly, despite the fact that the riffs are mildly better in this song, it still isn’t particularly well done, due to the band just sounding mechanical and emotionless. Why record something if you can’t make it sound like you care about it? For a pay day, I suppose.
But none of this matters, because they end the album with the song everyone’s been waiting for. A song eighteen years in the making: Overkill V
After listening to the album up until this point, something even slightly resembling old school Overkill was most definitely more than welcome. There’s been a lot of talk about this one song and how it will turn out. The big question is: how does the song stand up to Overkill and Evil Never Die (I & IV of the saga respectively). Well, it doesn’t, but it really is not bad at all. In fact, it’s actually pretty good, just not worthy of being called the fifth part of the saga. It begins with a slow, melodic guitar riff that creates a bit of an eerie atmosphere. The verse is fairly well done. Bobby sounds good, though the riff he’s singing over is a little questionable, but the fact that it doesn’t distract from anything else is miraculous. They throw in the high notes from the break in Evil Never Dies before they go into the riff from the first Overkill. Well, not quite, but it certainly is very similar, with a similar vocal melody. The chorus here is pretty catchy as well. Despite this song being nowhere near as strong as it’s lineage, I actually enjoy it. Then there’s a thrash break! Took them awhile, but there’s finally a song on here that comes close to being as good as the opener. Anyways, we soon repeat the verse and chorus, and we close with the same riff they used to open the song, which works well once again. So it it’s not Evil Never Dies, but it’s good for what it is.
So, what do we have here? Two good songs, one or two mediocre ones and a whole slew of crap. This album is not worth your time. I suggest if you want to hear it, you download the first song and the last one and forget the rest ever happened. You will enjoy it much more. And if it’s thrash you seek, avoid this at all costs. If you’re looking for bands currently making good thrash, listen to Destroyer 666, Germany’s Ravage or, for an old band doing thrash well, Hirax. Don’t even bother with this, you’ll only find yourself in disappointment. I honestly thought I’d never have to say this, but Overkill are yet another great thrash bad who desperately need to call it quits. If this is the best they can do, they shouldn’t be doing it at all. If you liked ReliXIV, you’ll probably enjoy this. For the rest of us, listen to The Years of Decay instead and save yourself the disappointment.
Overkill has done it again. Despite the lackluster effort of "ReliXIV", Overkill come flying back into the scene with a killer album, "Immortalis". Everywhere that Overkill missed the target with "ReliXIV" has been corrected and improved upon. Overkill has always been a stable in my collection and "Immortalis" is a beautiful addition to my playlist.
As soon as one puts in "Immortalis", they are going to notice that, no...Overkill has not returned to their Speed Metal days. They continue their groove influenced Thrash metal style that they have been perfecting since "Necroshine". This album does have some awesome and Thrashy guitar parts intermixed with the heavy groove and the guitarists trade off rhythms and leads expertly as they dodge between the slower and faster sections.
Once again there seems to be a heavy Blues influence on "Immortalis". There is plenty of slower moments intermixed with the Thrashier moments and songs will change direction two or three times during the duration of the song (bringing to mind some older Black Sabbathinfluence that may account for both of these characteristics). This time though, Overkill blends the Blues into their music a little smoother than on some of the other albums that have tried this tactic. DD Verni (Bass player) and Bobby Blitz (vocals) are on the top of their writing game.
Musically, as mentioned before, "Immortalis" pushes the boundaries of Overkill as the band twists and turns the songs from one direction to the next. DD Verni's bass seems to be less of a prominent force (at least aesthetically) whereas Blitz is full on power throughout. He sings, screams, and nails those high shrieks as well as he did 15 years ago.
A notable moment on the album include a strange, yet very enjoyable, duet with Randy Blythe (vocalist of Lamb of God) on the song "Skull And Bones". The song is one of the best on the album and who knew that Randy's harsh growls would mirror Blitz's singing and higher vocals so well. When they both scream together right before the solo it feels as though your ear drums just might tear.
As an Overkill fan, it was also wonderful to see the inclusion of an 'Overkill' track on
the album. "Overkill V" is definitely a throwback to the days of old Overkill and many older fans are going to play it over and over again. I know I have. Overkill are back to full speed despite the road bump that was their previous album. "Immortalis" has Overkill looking better than in fine shape as they hit their fans with a left-right combo that will put Metal on its ass.
Songs to check out: "Devils In The Mist", "Skull And Bones", "Overkill V".
Before some of you start complaining, I know I’ll never be able to write an unbiased review on OverKill. The band has been my favorite since the very second I heard them. Some people abandoned them when they had taken a slightly more groovy route halfway the nineties, but most people seemed to like the route the band was taking. Experimenting with more groovy parts, but never betraying their Thrash-roots. With the last couple of releases, OverKill seemed to create a pattern, releasing a more laid back album first (‘Necroshine’, ‘Killbox 13’) and a more furious album after that (‘Bloodletting’, ‘ReliXIV’). ‘Immortalis’ fits within that pattern perfectly, being a slightly more relaxed album, but DD Verni’s compositions have a certain inventiveness that makes this album a surprising listen nonetheless.
Verni is showing his love for Black Sabbath more and more on each album. That doesn’t mean that ‘Immortalis’ has become a Doom Metal-album though. But the typical Sabbath-thing of changing the song into something different right in the middle of it, is more present than ever here. When the songs start out, they usually have a trusted feeling, almost makes you feel like coming home after a long time of being away, only to be surprised by the new wallpaper a room has once you see it, that would be the change within the song.
In addition, OverKill explores the “Thrash ‘n’ Roll” area they laid the fundaments for with a song like ‘Damned’ a couple of years ago a little further. ‘Walk Through Fire’ has without any doubt been inspired by AC/DC and is probably meant to be played before ‘Elimination’ in the live set, judging from the fact that the song ends exactly the way the first verse to the latter opens. When ‘Head On’ really starts (after a bass intro highly remniscent of ‘Bastard Nation’ from the 1994 ‘W.F.O.’-album), there’s this awesome down ‘n’ dirty riff and the highly surprising ‘Hell Is’ starts out almost bluesy, only to cover every aspect OverKill has ever tried out later on. ‘Hell Is’ is probably the most pleasant surprise on the album because of that too, after the bluesy beginning, there is a groovy stomp, a fast Thrash-riff with Punk-ish energy and some slight Doom references as well.
For those who want to hear OverKill Thrash their heads off, there is plenty to enjoy here as well. Opening track ‘Devils In The Mist’ is an irresistable Thrasher with the entire band in top shape. In the end, it has Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth screaming from the top of his lungs like we haven’t heard him do in many years. And then there’s the closing track. A delight for everyone who has followed the New Jersey Wrecking Crew from the beginning. There is finally a fifth part to the ‘Overkill’-saga! For those who don’t know: ‘E.vil N.ever D.ies’ from ‘The Years Of Decay’ (1989) was the fourth, but wasn’t named that way. And now there’s ‘Overkill V: The Brand’, probably the highlight of this album. It starts out slowly with a guitar part slightly similar to Slayer’s ‘Dead Skin Mask’, in atmosphere at least, then there’s a midtempo stomping part, followed by THE riff! As long as I’m still single, I’ll just use that riff to have an orgasm! This is easily the most “old school” sounding song DD has written in many years. And one of the best ones!
New kid on the block Ron Lipnicki is versatile enough to handle every direction OverKill takes on ‘Immortalis’. His drumming on the Thrash-parts is just as strong as on the more groovy tracks, like ‘What It Takes’ and ‘Head On’. His style seems a little “looser” than that of his predecessor Tim Mallare. I just hope that on the next album, the production will answer to that a little more. The way his triggers are set makes the perfect rhythms sound a little stiff at some points. Great drumming nevertheless.
Another person who really stands out on ‘Immortalis’ is lead guitarist Dave Linsk, who has equallled Bobby Gustafson’s impressive record of playing guitar on four consecutive OverKill-studio albums with this album. Linsk is easily the best and most complete guitarist the band has ever had and just when you think you know how good he really is, he surprises you with some sick soloing. ‘Immortalis’ is no exception. It’s unbelievable how awesome some of his lead guitar work is here. Somehow it sounds like a little more feeling crept inside of his solos on this album. And that is an enormous pro.
The brightest shining star on ‘Immortalis’, however, is Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth. I have yet to remember an album on which he shows as many sides of his voice as he does on ‘Immortalis’ (maybe the criminally underrated ‘I Hear Black’). As mentioned before, he shows his full conviction again in ‘Devils In The Mist’, but he does some parts completely clean beautifully, check out ‘Hellish Pride’ for the best example on that. His abstract sense of poetry (which I consider his very best quality) is present again and is it me or has his range increased?
‘Immortalis’ has, for the first time in OverKill-history, a guest musician. And even though I think he’s a terrible singer, Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe surprisingly really adds something to the impressive stomper ‘Skull And Bones’. I still think Bobby should have done the verses he sings lead vocals to, but the parts Bobby and Randy do together came out really great. The studio footage Bodog Music released as a teaser for the album shows Blythe really tried to make something good out of it too. And although I never thought I would say something like this, he succeeded.
OverKill’s winged skull mascot has finally got his own theme song as well. And he should be proud of it too. ‘Chalie Get Your Gun’ is an awesome track with sort of a slight swing feel (that is Ron Lipnicki’s looser playing I’m talking about), but some kick-ass thrashing as well. It’s one of those surprising tracks, because every time you think you know where the band is heading, they take a different route. ‘Shadow Of A Doubt’ is a great example in that matter too, especially its exciting middle part.
Productionally, DD Verni seems to get the hang of it more and more. Apart from the minor criticism on the drum sound, the production is improving greatly. Dave Linsk did the engineering with DD and that means we get all the trusted elements: the huge guitar sound of Linsk and rhythm guitarist Derek Tailer, the fat and dirty bass sound of Verni himself and the strong, choral backing shouts. The latter are better than ever actually. DD either turned his own backing vocals down or Tailer’s up a little, giving the backing vocals an extra choral feel. Where in the past, there was a lot of DD, you can actually hear it’s two persons on this record. Just check the both of them shouting in ‘What It Takes’.
‘Immortalis’ is neither a radical change from OverKill’s past work or a very predictable album. And that’s where the true power of the album lies. That and the fact that the level of the album is consistently high. OverKill has the tendency to cluster their best songs somewhere in the beginning (i.e. ‘Within Your Eyes’, ‘Loaded Rack’ and ‘Bats In The Belfry’ on the predecessor ‘ReliXIV’), but there are no standout tracks on this one. And that is only because they all rock.
It takes a little longer to get into ‘Immortalis’ than into most of the other OverKill-albums (coincidentally, ‘Necroshine’ and ‘Killbox 13’ had the exact same effect for me), but once you give it that time, what you have is an album that easily matches OverKill’s best work. Thrash elitists expecting another ‘Horrorscope’ or ‘The Years Of Decay’ will probably be disappointed, but those with an open mind towards good music will most likely enjoy this awesome offering from New Jersey’s finest band.