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Evil may never die... - 36%

StainedClass, October 20th, 2007

…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.