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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.