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Overkill are one of the longest running bands in the thrash metal genre, having been around since the very earliest part of the 1980s and have consistently pumped out spectacular releases. Even during the hard times for the metal world during the mid 1990's, Overkill still kept themselves and the thrash genre afloat with songs such as FUCT from albums like From The Underground And Below that showed that thrash was not dead as long as Overkill were around. Their efforts eventually proved not to be in vain with the thrash revival that came in the 2000's and Overkill eventually put their own stamp on this revival with perhaps the strongest album of their career, the mighty Ironbound.
This is straight up in your face thrash metal that gets the listener's head moving in ways that nonsense such as Death Magnetic could never hope to. Ironbound is not a particularly short affair but it whizzes by so fast that you barely have time to catch your breath. The epic length of songs such as Ironbound and The Green And Black would usually hinder a thrash metal band as thrash has always been about delivering a point in as little time as possible but these songs show that Overkill know exactly how to craft a lengthy song for maximum impact. The band did this so very well with some of their songs off of their early material such as The Years Of Decay album but on Ironbound they come into their own with longer songs.
The riff craft on Ironbound is among the best out there. Overkill are not a band that needs to cram as much technicality into their songs as possible to make them a good band and nor do they need a breakdown infested chug-fest to deliver a point. Instead they thrash along at full speed with some really enjoyable guitar work that covers a variety of tempos perfectly. The drumming is also very intense on this album and jumps between many speeds across the songs, usually changing the tempo within the same song three or four times and also retains a lot of variety instead of the monotonous drumming found on albums like Slayer's most recent album.
The instrumental work is complimented perfectly by a fantastic production that is not overproduced but is definitely clear and a joy to listen to. The riff that opens Ironbound is the best example of the in-your-face production that this band has used for Ironbound and it could not work to better effect. The production job on here makes the album heavy and aggressive and every instrument is very prominent in the mix. The icing on the cake for this album is Bobby Blitz's crazy vocal performance that is probably his strongest to date with some crazy high notes and the heavy New York accent that seeps through when he dives into his lower register. On this album he carries a snide, sarcastic tone and this really works when coupled with lyrics such as "if I'm staring at the table then I must be laying on the floor" whilst thundering along.
The songs themselves on this album are as close to perfection as thrash metal can get from the magnificent opener The Green And Black through the title track and the fast paced Bring Me The Night right through the the phenomenal The SRC. The songs are not for everyone and this is something that is best displayed by the multi part title track that begins heavy as hell and then moves into a clean section before building up to a marvelous closure. This is an album that has a lot of different styles but always feels very intense and as though the band are out for blood. This is really the sound of a band that are hungry for blood after a couple of slightly more lackluster releases in Relix IV and Immortalis and it seeps through with every song sounding full of pure, unadulterated rage.
Ironbound is a fantastic album and probably the best album the band has ever put out, and if this does not ring true then it is the best since The Years Of Decay. It showed that thrash is very much alive and that every song is an absolute masterpiece with Bring Me The Night and The SRC being two of the best and the first two songs being among the finest thrash metal songs of all time. Ironbound also showcases a shift into a more modernized production for Overkill that could not work better with this band's sound.
In 2010, Bobby and the gang released a damn good slab of modern thrash metal, known as Ironbound. In a time where many of the great thrash metal bands have been putting out less than mediocre thrash metal albums (Death Magnetic, World Painted Blood, I'm looking at you) Overkill still knows how to kick ass, even though sometimes they don't fully release those abilities (For example, this album's disappointing successor, which was released the same year in which this review was typed. *shudders*). Unlike The Electric Age, Ironbound feels powerful. Ironbound feels like the crew was truly putting their hearts into the music here. The album delivers their brand of kick-you-in-the-face thrash and blends in some interesting elements in there to keep it from getting too stale and one-dimensional. One last thing before I start talking about the songs: the production on this thing is fantastic. I love the way the bass sounds, and It makes the sound of the music feel pounding. I really feel like more of today's thrash outputs should pronounce the bass more like this one, because it really would add a new dynamic of heaviness to many records.
Ironbound begins with a really interesting clean guitar intro which serves as a fitting way to open the album. The moment the riffs start coming in and you hear that powerful bass accompanying the riffs, you know you're about to embark on quite a ride. The riffs throughout this album sound really well thought out, not tampering to much with the thrash formula, but also adding in some cool clean and melodic parts, which adds in a layer of creativity and diversity. Not only from the guitars do we hear some interesting stuff but the bass as well. There are some points where you hear the bass going off and doing its own thing, and it really is a nice change from the usual "Hey bassist, we made all the riffs. Here play along to the root notes of these power chords" type of feeling that many albums suffer from. The drums switch up the patterns during all the songs, which keeps the record from getting too stale. Now, Bobby Blitz's voice, man does he sound powerful here. This guy does not sound worn out in the least bit here, he sounds enthused, and he sounds like he just wants to tear shit up. His vocals still got that gritty, aggressive punch, which is impressive for a man his age. The vocals mix up styles every now and then blending in sung vocals, shouted vocals, and the occasional appearance of backing vocals. Overall, the music on this album feels crushing, multi-dimensional, and full of personality, some things I feel many thrash albums are lacking.
Ironbound is an album that does all the right things for a thrash metal album to achieve "greatness" and is well worthy of multiple listens. As disappointed as I was with Overkill's newest offering, The Electric Age, I really hope that they can deliver something as good as this one next time they hit the studio.
Overkill have become known as one of the most consistent and enduring bands in the world. This has more to do with their stubbornness in not really altering their style than actual consistent musicianship. Over the last 2 decades, Overkill albums were plagued with fillers and only a couple of very good tracks. They also inherited groove elements into their music in the early 90's which have remained ever since (a negative, imo). Horrorscope was their last brilliant album, but that was 20 years ago. Can a band really still have it after so long? Well, the simple fact is Overkill have delivered what will probably go down as a thrash classic. Every song is brilliant and although some are obviously better than others, none are bad.
Blitz is as powerful as ever. He seems to get better with age and whereas people like James Hetfield (shame on you) are a shadow of their former selves, Blitz is awesome. D.D Verni provides a powerful bass backbone and new boy Ron Lipincki is phenomenal on the drums. His intensity is neck-breaking. Derek Tailer is decent on rhythm, but not anything special. Dave Linsk puts in his best lead performance thus far for Overkill and his solo in the soft part of the title track is fantastic. Overkill would really benefit from two leads where they could trade off one another. Al Pitrelli or Jeff Waters, maybe? Still even with that (imo) glaring weak point in the band, they have still put together a great album.
As a whole, the album has a very heavy sound and is very well-produced. Every instrument is easily audible and the vocals of Blitz cut straight through with his trademark rasp. The groove elements are mostly gone and this is mostly straight ahead thrash, the way Overkill should be.
I won't review every track, but simply mention my favorites. The title track is fantastic. The change of pace at about 3 minutes is nothing other than awe-inspiring and brilliant. Overkill should have done this more throughout their career. Dave's guitar solo is very good. In my opinion, it's the best that he has done since joining the band.
Bring Me the Night sounds like how I imagine God to be when he is angry. It's fast, aggressive, and I think Blitz has just found out his girlfriend is shagging the postman because he really lets loose here. The solos are appropriately fast and the drumming is intense to say the least. The chorus is my favorite lyrical passage on the album:
"Ready to fly; and I'm ready to die
Scare the angel, fly away
Let the devil have his way
Tie your tongue into a knot
Pray to God it never stops
Ready to fly; and I'm ready to die
Fuel me up, let me go
Shut your mouth, going to blow
Hold your ears and shield your eyes
Just a word to the wise."
Killing For a Living is just so cool because the vocals at times don't sound at all like Blitz. This bloke is a damn chameleon. Again great riffs, lyrics, and a solid performance overall.
The Goal is Your Soul has some nice eerie guitar picking and reminds me of the stuff they were writing back on their Years of Decay album. Again, this song has great tempo changes, varying riffs, and some great lyrics.
The G&B is the longest song here, but feels no longer than 5 minutes, which is a testament to how well-structured the song is. Yet another great opening track, something Overkill have always been good at on pretty much every album.
Choice cuts (although all are good):
Bring Me the Night
The Green and Black
The Goal is Your Soul
Definitely a strong contender for best album of 2010 and a must for any fan of thrash metal.
Overkill have released their 16th album and it is probably their best album in recent years. I won't bullshit you with telling you who these guys are or what they've released, because in all honesty, if you're on this site, you should know who the fuck these legends are.
The album starts off as the last 2 Overkill albums have, with about 30 seconds to a minute of slow buildup and then...BOOM! Say goodbye to your muthafuckin' teeth as they've just been kicked through the back of your puny skull. That is basically how the album kicks off and never really lets up the intensity from there. The first 3 tracks are basically a trilogy of awesomeness and a precursor of what is to follow.
The album has a good bit of variation, to a certain extent. I mean, it's all in the context of Overkill but they kinda explore everything the band has dipped their glorious fingers into over the course of their 25+ year career. You have the epic (The Green And Black, Ironbound), the thrash (Bring Me The Night, The SRC, Endless War), The heavy/doom (The Head And Heart), and the modern/groove (Give A Little, The Goal Is Your Soul etc) and even The Killing Kind-era hardcore-ish (In Vain). I mean, this album is an Overkill diehard's wet dream. It has everything.
And the production is fuckin' awesome. No other word can describe it. Every instrument is heard with crystal clear quality and precision. The guitars have an awesome, grinding tone. DD's bass work, together with Ron Lipnicki drumming create a thunderous, pummelling rhythm section and the star of the show, Mr Blitz Ellsworth, has never sound so good or ferocious. He truly lets rip on this one.
I couldn't big this album up anymore even if I wanted or tried too. I have spun this disk on regular rotation and can't see that stopping anytime in the near future. If your an Overkill fan, or a fan of metal in general, I highly recommend getting this album. You won't be disappointed.
For a while this question of “what colors comprise the heavy metal rainbow?” has been pestering me. Perhaps it’s a sign that I listen to too much Dio, or perhaps it could be chalked up to an occasional pondering of how Vikings would get from Earth to Odin, but regardless the question still remains. I’m confident that, based on my research into the lyrical pursuits of professor Ronnie James that this illusive rainbow only comes out in the dark, but beyond this his studies seemed only interested with the metaphorical applications of this phenomenon, as such is the labors of poets. But recently Overkill decided to take a more scientific approach to the question, and uncovered a threefold color scheme of green, black and red through their thrash metal microscope.
“Ironbound”, the colossal 16th opus of pure tempered steel out of this New York thrash mainstay, presents the illusive heavy metal rainbow on an iron canvass fit for its nature. The tableau is, in itself, somewhat inconsistent only in the sense that there are patches of rust amidst its luster, but manifesting not as an actual flaw but rather a much needed accent of older influences that have been largely absent on their past several offerings. Occasionally this comes in the form of obvious nods to old school Metallica and Megadeth, while at others things break more towards Overkill’s slightly groovier character, but always hitting upon the best elements of both worlds. This is an album that is literally chock full of enough riffs to hold its own against the more extreme examples of the late 80s Bay Area scene, but elects for a more orthodox song structure that is more befitting a pre-1987 adherent to the genre.
As to the specific colors of the rainbow, the dominant colors are the pitch black and deathly pale green that has often been displayed on their album covers. While lyrically this is largely a dual venture in singing the praises of the individual and his empowerment in relation to others within the metal scene when he finds his proper place, the music is pure necrotic filth, much in the same fashion as a zombie fresh out of the grave, but with the sprinting abilities more commonly attributed to wolves. There is no beating around the bush in this regard either, as this uncompromising fury of crunch, sleaze and aggression just leaps out at the listener from the very onslaught.
The first 3 songs essentially set the tone for the entire album, drawing heavily from the past and only a little bit from the post-1992 era of the style. The principle influence is that of “The Years Of Decay”, which this album essentially functions as a 21st anniversary to, albeit with even more speed and fury. “The Green And Black” bears some similarity to “Time To Kill”, complete with an extended intro and build up, though the song is a tiny bit creepier and bass heavy. In fact, D.D. has more presence as a bassist on here than any other Overkill album. “Ironbound” ups the ante in the speed department, as well as in catchiness, throwing in an unforgettable gang chorus to lead vocalist interchange that hits the ears with the fury of a thousand sledgehammers. Both of these songs are wide in scope and consist of extended breakdown sections, sometimes slowing down to a punishing groove stomp, while at others reverting to the creepy quietness heard on the softer parts heard on “The Years Of Decay”. The 3rd part of this wicked trilogy “Bring Me The Night” bucks the breakdown trend in favor of an all speed, all the time, rush of punishing brevity. Signature riffs that bear heavy similarities to “Hit The Lights” and “Disposable Heroes” mesh perfectly with Blitz’s wicked witch wails, resulting in a song that should be on any self-respecting thrash maniac’s play list.
For the most part, the remaining songs tend to exhibit the frenzied character of the beginning 3. “Endless War” has more of a galloping tendency to it and a heavy amount of Dave Mustaine influences, but still puts speed and riffs ahead of groove. “Give A Little” is a bit more of a sing along number and a little bit slower, not to mention featuring a brief section where Blitz turns off the sleaze and almost sounds like a soft rock singer, but the aggression is still at the fore. But amongst a lot of the slower songs there is also an appearance of the red lining on the otherwise all green and black rainbow, manifesting musically as that groovier, “I’m gonna kick your face in” attitude more associated with Overkill’s late 90s material. “The Head And Heart” is the most noteworthy example of this, slamming down a minimalist set of power chords in a “Symphony Of Destruction” manner, and flowing like a standard structured song. One might chalk it up to an occasional reference to the bloodied corpse of the victim amidst an otherwise consistent tale of thrashing zombies and necrotic flesh.
It has been a long time coming, but the band that arguably first pioneered this style has solved the riddle of the heavy metal rainbow first prophesized by the almighty Dio, and along with it offered us yet another fit of sheer thrashing brilliance. There isn’t a single dull moment to be found, though many will find themselves repeating the first 3 songs over and over for their surprising level of comparability to the glory days of the 80s. It’s a dark ride, a fit of subterranean brilliance, and a wonderfully decrepit musical rendering of this band’s primary colors. It’s the sort of rainbow organization that can literally push its own sense of greatness and diversity, but without all the racism, gayness, or corporate shakedowns normally associated with some other rainbow push groups. In short, get this now, or prepare to be torn apart by a legion of green and black ghouls.
How many old school bands do you know who have released a good damn record in recent years? Maybe a few. How many old school bands do you know who have released a pants-shittingly awesome record in recent years? I know one, and that band is Overkill. Even if you ignore the circumstances of Ironbound's release, you still have a wonderful piece of mean, manly and magnificent old school thrash metal with a modern tinge. One of my favorite things about this album is that every song is easily distinguishable and they're all almost like separate personalities..."The Green and Black" is the epic one, "Bring Me the Night" is the rock 'n' roller, "Give A Little" is the song with dual vocals and so on. Basically, it's a very dynamic album, but still stays true to its roots.
The journey of awesome that is listening to this album begins with a quiet bass (some guitar) intro to "The Green and Black", which is a contender for "Best Song of 2010", in my opinion. I really want to focus on the opening track here, because this is an 8 minute song that not for one second feels like it's being dragged out or contrived, which is really an accomplishment. The song goes through many phases, starting with the aforementioned bass intro, then a epic-turning-evil electric guitar, followed by a kickass thrash phase (with unbelievably cool choruses, too) which wraps up the song, but is interspersed with cool interludes, solos and breaks. Following the first epic of the album is the second epic and title track "Ironbound". This is a great song as well, which is best described like this: it thrashes the fuck out of you at first, then beats and maims you to a pulp with a breakdown more brutal than any deathcore band has ever even dreamed of writing, then while you're lying on the ground in a bloody mess with a smile on your face, it heals you back to life with a soothing and really quite beautiful solo, but as soon as it's finished doing that, it's back to FUCKING MAYHEM! This part of the song is great, and I especially like the sound of the heavy guitar blast immediately followed by a barely audible ride hit, which is decimated by the guitar again a moment later (it sounds kind of like CHNG-ting!-CHNG-ting!, just believe me, it's awesome). I'm probably breaking the "no track-by-track review of an album" by this point, so I'll just finish up this portion of the review by saying that the rest of the album has mighty moments of metal mastery with catchy riffs and vocal pieces.
Aaaaand, speaking of riffs, this album is full of them. I shit you not, there is a riff every minute, and they ALL sound fucking godly. From "Bring Me the Night"'s Motorhead styled guitar playing to "Give A Little"'s almost mocking riffs (once again, I shit you not, they made the guitar actually sound like it was mocking you. HOW DO THEY DO THAT OMGWTFLOLWUT!?) to "Ironbound"'s mosh-inducing and energetic break and breakdown riffs, it's all great. Ron Lipnicki does an A+ drumming job -- fast, useful, tight and catchy. One thing lacking about the drums though is the heinously weak kick drum. I mean come on, it sounds like a god damn mouse click! This album wouldn't be the same if it lacked real heaviness, and although the thin kick drum sound takes away from that, D.D. Verni's never-ending bass lines (which are HUGE in the mix) make up for it, and make for it GOOD. Heavy, fast and skilled, the instrumentation on Ironbound is great in every way (except for the kick drum, but just try to ignore it)!
As for vocals? Well, what can I say, Bobby Blitz sings and screams as well as he ever did, except now they've got flawless production so he sounds a THOUSAND TIMES better. One interesting thing was how much of the "low talking" type of singing he did on here. Instead of singing in a higher range like he usually does (or so it seems to me), he laid low in a lower range when singing most stuff. Now, I'm not really complaining, because this gives off a pissed-off vibe...and well, this is speed metal, you need that! Another good thing that comes out of this low singing is that after you get used to it and you hear that motherfucker scream....damn! The contrast is so huge, it's like a loop on a rollercoaster; it comes out of nowhere and is exciting as hell.
Overkill has really stunned me and lots of others with Ironbound, and I think it's really garnered them a larger support from a newer generation. I'm not sure how many of them turn into wrecking motherfuckers, but I know for a fact that this is the album that turned me green and black, and I'm a huge fan of Overkill now! Wrecking crew for life!
Song highlights: EVERYTHING! But if you want to be extremely picky, "Green and Black", "Ironbound", "Bring Me the Night".
OVERKILL always seems to have been, in my eyes, on the very VERY edge of the radar in the thrash metal spectrum. Seemingly too monstrous for mainstream acceptance and too genuine to be completely forgotten, the OVERKILLERs prattled on, peddling their wares to any who would dare give these fools a listen or two. I can’t tell you whether this current thrash revival is having beneficial or adverse effects for the group as I’d yet to hear any news of the like, but I’d be lying if I’d say that a new career boost for them wouldn’t do little upward curly tricks to the ends of my mouth. Nevertheless, they’ve kept at it to this current time and day, and here we have a new album fresh off the cooker, ready and rarin’ to go.
So let’s see if time has been kind to this group of misfits…
For this new disc, “Ironbound”, things start out sorta slow but get into the swing of things in record time, giving the listener a lesson of old-school-ish thrash metal the likes of which only the legends of the scene could evoke. All that is barbaric and heavy is in full swing, taking a modernistic approach to a tried-and-true formula, but done so with a sort of mature class that comes from being part of a scene for as long as they. Shades of “Ride the Puppets”/“Master of Lightning”-era METALLICA couples with the nastiness of early-years EXODUS’ fabulous disasters, where tons of riffs, blinding speed/solos, jugular-severing guitars, face-crushing drums and that traditional OVERKILL rasp unleashes some of their more upbeat, melodic and energetic material, proving to the world that no matter which musical trends hold sway, there will always be plentiful stubborn types who will decry all that the kids these days view to the point of religious belief. Metalcore? Grunge? Fuck all that, so sayeth our old thrash gods! That sort of pissed-off-ness is set to full capacity with the likes of “Ironbound”, “Give a Little”, and “In Vain”, more than enough to quench the thirst for riffery. That’s all it takes to get through the day, in these schizophrenic times.
So all in all “Ironbound again proves the necessity for OVERKILL in this day and age. Here’s hoping that they’ll get swept up the tide during this current thrash revival, but I think that even if it doesn’t come to be, they’ll sprout up again when we least expect them. Horns!
While I found some good moments in the last few Overkill albums, I have found them to be somewhat lesser additions to the band's discography and wondered how much time they had left as a group. I wasn't sure how this album would compare to the ones before it but figured that it'd end up being your "typical" Overkill album. To my surprise, my perceptions went through a complete overhaul as this release ended up being even stronger than I had anticipated.
As suggested by the appropriately metallic album art and a unique sounding mix courtesy of Hypocrisy bandleader Peter Tägtgren, "Ironbound" brings about a band that is heavier and more aggressive than the Overkill that many of us have gotten used to in recent years. Most of the songs on here go at an extremely fast pace with a few more complex structures coming into play on occasion. Of course, the album still has plenty of catchy moments with "Bring Me the Night" in particular serving as an excellent anthem and one of my personal favorite songs.
The band's performance also seems to have gotten more focused on this effort and the "new" line-up finally shows some chemistry that hasn't been seen in this group for quite a while. Guitarists Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk finally come into their own with some powerful riffs and solos that are sure to eliminate any brooding memories of past guitarists that are still in the fans' collective conscious. Vocalist Bobby Ellsworth also delivers another strong performance, generally sticking to his signature rasps and wails though showing some croons on "Give A Little" and borderline growls on "The Head And Heart." Unfortunately, DD Verni's bass playing doesn't stand out as much as usual though the backing vocals on this album may be some of his best to date.
While the somewhat dry production may give the album a somewhat distant feel in comparison to past efforts, I think this album's one flaw may be the derivative tendency that has popped up on past Overkill efforts. Many songs on here have moments that recall classic Metallica and Megadeth. While it may be my favorite song on the album, "Bring Me The Night" may be somewhat off-putting to some as it is more or less a rewrite of "The Prince" by Diamond Head. Fortunately, it doesn't get in the way too often and may reinforce the album's classic feel.
With the release of this album, it's safe to say that Overkill has made their version of "Tempo Of The Damned." All of the songs on here are powerfully constructed and the overall effort will be pretty damn hard to top as one of my 2010 favorites, let alone one of my favorites in the Overkill discography. Here's hoping they'll be able to keep this momentum going with their next one!
My Current Favorites:
"The Green And Black," "Ironbound," "Bring Me The Night," "Give A Little," and "The Head And Heart."
Surprise! 2-3 years have passed and guess what, it’s time for another Overkill album! One has to give credit to a band that is still regularly putting out albums this frequently. Unfortunately, these albums have been getting worse and worse until a career low-point with "Immortalis", which had zero good songs on it. Needless to say I was totally unprepared for the aural assault the greeted me with "The Green And The Black", but before I get into that, a little background first.
Some would argue that Overkill was the first Thrash band, being formed all the way back in 1980. I would disagree with that because I do not think that they actually played Thrash until 1985-1987 or so, before that they were more Speed Metal than anything else. Either way you look at it, they’ve been around for a while (and at one time had Anthrax’s Dan Spitz on guitar), and have been putting out albums and touring relentlessly for almost 30 years! Anyone that’s been to an Overkill live show will tell you that they definitely can bring it (and still can, go see them if you ever get the chance). Oh, and despite coming close with "I Hear Black" and "Immortalis", they’ve never really sold out and certainly have never put out anything as bad as "St. Anger", "Risk" or "Diabolus In Musica".
Anyone doubting whether Overkill can still deliver the goods or not need only listen to "The Green And The Black", perhaps the best song that they’ve released since "Coma" off of "Horrorscope". Excellent speedy, hard-hitting riffs and a menacing vocal performance by Blitz give way to a killer break that will surely have fans headbanging and moshing live. Top it off with some good soloing and this song is a winner. Some bands decide to write one good song and stick it at the beginning to fool fans, but not Overkill, in fact, the intensity never lets up throughout the album. Some other favorites of mine are the title track, "The Goal Is Your Soul" and "The SRC".
The riffs are stronger, more plentiful and more dynamic and there’s more soloing too, which is good because Dave Linsk can shred. The drums pack more of a punch too, which is a necessity for heavy music like this. Peter Tagtgren does an excellent job producing this album, giving it a much heavier feel than the punchless, low budget sounding work of the past few albums. This isn’t Killswitch Engage dammit! I want the music to be loud and in-my-face! Excellent work with the production.
The amusing thing about this is that Blitz doesn’t seem to realize there’s anything different about this album than any of the past few. In some interviews he makes it sound like it’s more of the same from Overkill, but in others he claims that this is a new chapter for the band. This may seem substantial, but he’s been saying similar shit before new album releases for years now. Regardless of whether he realizes it or not, this is one of the strongest albums in Overkill’s catalogue. I can’t wait to hear these songs performed live. Don’t let the past few albums fool you, "Ironbound" is a winner, buy it ASAP.
Originally published for www.metal-temple.com
It’s been a very very long time since I’ve written a review for this site, but this one’s just too much to pass up.
It’s pretty difficult to really wrap your head around just what Overkill has done on this release – this is a band with 14 albums under their belt (15 according to them, I guess counting Coverkill or Power In Black, was never sure which) and who’s glory years were thought to be long behind them. Their last two releases were fairly disappointing affairs with only a couple bright spots between the two, resembling an old strand of Christmas lights. Using that analogy however, Ironbound is a blinding floodlight, probably visible from space. This is classic thrash metal with some modern sensibilities, and better than anything the band has put out since 1991’s Horrorscope! In fact, it just might be better than that classic album and any of their other albums for that matter.
Songs like “Bring Me The Night”, “Endless War” and the title track resonate with classic thrash rhythms and melodies. You could put either of those songs smack-dab in the middle of Feel The Fire or Taking Over and they would not sound out of place. Other cuts like “Give A Little” and “The Goal Is Your Soul” thrash with a more modern sound in the same way that Overkill’s more recent worthwhile material does, straddling the line between thrash and groove perfectly.
I’d be hard pressed to pick a weak moment on Ironbound, but if I had to it would be the more rock-based approach to “Killing For A Living”, which certainly isn’t a bad song but feels like maybe a B- in a classroom full of A+. Production-wise, the album is solid, if a little heavy on the treble. The guitars sound lethal, but DD’s bass is buried somewhat.
Overall, this one should go down as one of the band’s best. Yet it is almost troubling that it has come so late in the their career. Will Overkill be able to build on this? Or will it be their swan song? Surely it sounds as if they are rejuvenated, that they have a lot more to give. DD and Blitz seem to have turned over a new leaf in the songwriting department, and the band as a whole is playing with more intensity than they have in years. Only time will tell, but if this is the last chapter in the story of the Green and Black, it’s a damn good one.
Just about every review you read for a newer Overkill CD will begin with the bit where the writer tells you how they were the one classic U.S. thrash band that went the distance through the 90s without compromising their integrity. The thing is, it happens to be one worn-out old platitude that is undoubtedly true; while not everything they came up with after the seminal ‘Horrorscope’ back in 1991 is an essential piece of any metal fan’s collection, that Blitz, D.D. and their associated comrades continued to go their own way in the face of the most extreme adversity really does bear repeating.
My first experience of the band was actually a double pack of the mostly good ‘Necroshine’ and the mostly bad ‘From the underground and below’, with the former being all the proof you could ever need that groove metal can actually be done right if it is approached with the same level of care, dignity and honesty as you would expect any successful metal band to apply to their work.
2005’s ‘Relixiv’ though was a creative dead end – the songs had finally become slaves to the groove rather than the other way around, and it looked as though this once mighty thrash titan had finally succumbed. I understand that ‘Immortalis’ was supposed to be a something of an improvement, but such was my disillusionment with its predecessor I completely missed it out, but the pre-release hype surrounding ‘Ironbound’ was just too enticing to be ignored.
And thankfully, it has turned out to be fully justified. This is, without doubt, the best Overkill have sounded in close to 2 decades. And yes, it is thrash – pure, unadulterated, epic thrash, as though ‘Horrorscope’ happened only a couple of weeks ago.
Quite where D.D. Verni has pulled this multitude of astounding riffs from is just beyond me – with all the suddenness of a flicking switch he has jumped back into his youth and has Overkill thrashing likes there’s no tomorrow. ‘Ironbound’ shouldn’t be mistaken for some trip down memory lane though, as it is undoubtedly a modern piece of work. There are slowed down moments, breakdowns even, but classic thrash style is brought right up to date without sacrificing any of its qualities, and the more modern elements are used respectfully and incorporated carefully into one hulking, cohesive beast of a CD. “The green and black” opens proceedings in quite monstrous fashion, an 8-minute tour-de-force that leaves no doubt as to what is in store. Opening on a one of Verni’s trademark loping bass intros, it quickly sets the standard with a relentless barrage of old-school thrashing before sliding into a punishing midtempo midsection that twists and turns before exploding into life again at the climax.
Blitz sings out of his skin on this one, and is at the absolute top of his game throughout. One of the great underrated vocalists of our time, he spits and screeches like a man possessed and delivers his typically cryptic but nonetheless (and I use this term advisedly) badass lyrics with a relentless controlled power that defies his 50 years.
The rest of the band are right up there with him too, with the entire crew in blistering form. Verni of course is a rightly regarded bass legend, and hands in a display worthy of his reputation, either when taking the lead or harmonizing with the guitars, or when delivering a full-on rhythmic battering along with Ron Lipnicki. On his 2nd studio outing since replacing the long-serving Tim Mallare, the drummer is dressed to impress, and pounds the living hell out of his kit. His fills and footwork are incredible, filling any loose spaces and hammering the pedals together at all the most appropriate moments.
On the guitar front Dave Linsk really excels on lead, zigzagging in and out of the congested riffs and delivering solo after staggering solo on what must surely be a career-best performance. On the title track he even finds time to show a more melodic side as the song unexpectedly slows down in the middle, weaving a mesmerizing solo before kicking up it a gear as the songs explodes back into life. On “Endless war”, the harmonized leads at the conclusion (with Verni getting in on the act too) are breathtaking, blazing like Iron Maiden in their very prime. Derek Tailer, the quiet man of the band I suppose on rhythm guitar, is not someone you generally hear much about, but even if he remains in Linsk’s shadow, there is no shortage of complex rhythmic bombardments for him to sink his teeth into and the importance of him anchoring his axe partner’s extravagance should not be understated.
The biggest strength of ‘Ironbound’, all these magnificent performances aside, must be in its versatility. The songs each have a definitive identity of their own, and just about all of them could stand alone against virtually anything being thrown at them. After the pounding given out by the opening 2 songs, “Bring me the night” mixes things up a bit with the most old-school sound of the bunch. The upbeat main riff is something Diamond Head would have killed to come up with, and is complimented perfectly by a demented vocal performance by Blitz were he must spit out about a million words without missing a breath. Truly, truly superior stuff. “Give a little” is another song that simply breathes character, the trade-off vocals between Blitz and Verni in the chorus another little bit of innovation (it’s not rocket science, but someone still has to come up with it) that remind us they’re still just a pair of punks deep down. As the song slows down Blitz also shows off his best Elvis imitation in the CD’s strangest moment, but, like nearly everything else when they’re on this kind of form, it just clicks perfectly into place.
It is maybe true, having listened quite extensively to the CD now, that the 2nd half isn’t quite as strong as the first, but after the relentless opening salvo Overkill are definitely due a bit of slack – that it takes until 7 songs in to find something that isn’t completely outstanding tells its own story. “The head and heart”, despite an interesting attempt at growled vocals from Blitz, is a bit of a weak point, the only song where the non-thrash elements take centre stage and keep the song from reaching full flight, but it really would be nitpicking to get too down about what is ultimately still a pretty good song.
Further towards the end, the penultimate “Killing for a living” is the black sheep of the family. Partly made up of by-now-expected heads down thrashing, it’s more intriguing side is found in the dark sections where Blitz hovers above proceedings like a grim narrator, delivering menacing half-spoken vocals that paint a sweeping, nightmarish picture punctuated by the crushing thrash sections. A moment of genuine stand-out inspiration on a CD chock-full of the stuff, it keeps reminding (as if reminding was needed) that Overkill never were ones to do things by the book.
At the end of my first listen to ‘Ironbound’ I was pretty stunned, and that sensation hasn’t faded even now that I have given it a thorough mental dissection to get my thoughts down on paper. Overkill never looked like they were going to go quietly, but for them to hit out with something of this quality at this stage of their career – their 15th full-length in 25 relentless years (16th if you count 'Coverkill') – is nothing short of miraculous. I will definitely be astounded if my year-end list doesn’t have its number one position occupied already, before we even hit February. Believe the hype; Overkill rides again.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
Overkill enter a new decade after 3 decades of being arguably the most consistent and most respectable thrash metal band. Overkill have pretty much stayed the same through their career, This being no different. Ironbound is more of the same, Just a little inconsistent but still pretty solid release.
To be honest, I think this is a step-down from their previous release "Immortalis", There seems to be a lot of filler on this one, Bobby's vocals are still going pretty strong but they can't seem to hit the heights of his performances on albums such as "horrorscope". Some of the songs on this album feel a little too long, That wouldn't be such a problem if there was some good song-writing here but sadly they only occur in short spurts. The guitar duo are still as sharp as ever and deliver many crunching groove inspired thrash riffs which will please any kill fan who likes the previous 3 albums. The drums feel very "light" again, There is no shortage of technical/fast drumming but they just don't deliver the impact as in "bloodletting".
There are many songs on this one which just go in through one ear and go out the other. Making you wonder what the song is about, The themes and the lyrics aren't very clear. One other problem i have personally, is the ordering of the tracks, I'm not convinced by the starting track which clocks in at over 8 minutes long. There seems to plenty of re-hashed material which feels like they've been recycled from old overkill and exodus albums. There is still some fantastic solo-ing to be found on tracks like 'The green and black' and 'Give a little'.
My favorite track on this album is 'Give a little' which has a really catchy and addictive chorus featuring 'group-shoutings'. The riffs of this album can't help but give you the feeling "Where did i hear something like this before?". The production is pretty good, The bass is clearly audible, as in most kill albums. 'endless war' is pretty good, The track just about saves the whole album from going stale at the right time. This still features more 'talking' and less 'singing' like their previous 3 albums.
Ironbound is a good album, The biggest problem being the track ordering and the length of few of these songs. There is a lot of filler material on some of the tracks, Which aren't bad just a little annoying. This is a good move into the new decade for the old thrash-gods. You could do much worse than buy this album. Get this if you're a die-hard overkill fan as I'm pretty sure this is exactly what over-kill fans want or if you're looking for an album to kick-start 2010.
I have a lot of respect for Overkill, I really do, and I once wore my greens and blacks with pride through the 80s, which sadly remain the pinnacle of their career as far as recorded output. They're cool guys, they put on excellent live performances (even well beyond the 80s), and who the hell could deny that they are one of the most persistent bands in metal music. Most of the bigger names broke up, went through massive musical changes, got back together, or died of overdoses in the past 20-30 years, but not Overkill. They've been with us all along, thrashing out through the years with nary a difference in their stylistic delivery aside from occasional lapses into more modern, crushing grooves, or different studios and tones, but even then, they still maintained the core values that make them the most enduring thrash band of the NY/NJ area (sorry, Anthrax, maybe if you hadn't fallen through the cracks...)
With all this being said, Bobby Blitz and his wrecking crew have not delivered an album that knocked my socks off since 1987's Taking Over. There have been great efforts (Under the Influence), good efforts (The Years of Decay), and then a whole lot of just okay efforts...albums that usually feature 2-4 killer cuts and then a heap of filler which rarely, if ever makes it onto the bands live sets or into the long term memory of their fans. They're like a lichen growing across the surface of that 19th century bronze vase you've got out at the edge of your property: they give the world a little bit of extra class, but beyond that, pretty useless. Ironbound is the band's 16th album, and it's a pretty staggering accomplishment to even REACH that number of albums, especially when we're talking about full fledged studio efforts and not 2 kids in their bedroom using pro-tools to build a black metal legacy. Overkill is older, certainly, and probably wiser too, but one listen through Ironbound and you'll realize they have lost nothing of their youthful edge. Arguably, this is also the band's best work in many years, clinging proudly to the thrash and speed of their roots, and it's successful enough to have older fans banging their heads, and younger fans performing windmill kicks and walls of death to drain off their excess testosterone, but it's still not the great return to form I have always hoped the band would one day produce.
Thankfully, it's fast and fun thrash metal which doesn't often give you an opening to ponder just why you don't care for it. "The Green and Black" is a nice tribute to both the band's history and especially the fans that have kept fueling it over the years, but I have to question why it needs to be 8 minutes long. This could have been snipped to 3-4 minutes and had the same effect. By the slower breakdowns later in the track, I was mighty bored. Not really the case for title track "Ironbound", which truly thrashes out like it was Under the Influence all over again, and it carries the 6+ minutes pretty well, with Blitz' undeniable vocal charisma howling and screaming through the night. Speaking of which, "Bring Me the Night" is another smoker, with a total old school speed metal vibe that alternates into the chugging vocal verse. "The Goal is Your Soul" is another cautionary thrash tale, at a strong mid tempo, but not too memorable. "Give a Little" and "Endless War" both have their moments, solid beatings but with maybe 2-3 catchy riffs among them.
"The Head and the Heart" recalls some of the band's more moody, atmospheric tunes from past years, in particular the "Overkill" series of songs that they penned for the first few albums. A simple clean, chorused guitar breaks into a slow-paced rhythm reminiscent of Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction", and Blitz dips into a little of his late 70s/80s hard rock edge before the thrash fist returns. "In Vain" loses nothing of the energy of the first half of the record, but doesn't quite stand out, while "Killing for a Living" is a concrete blast of urban brutality with a string of mighty riffs and interesting variations through the vocals, from a kind of narrative style in the verse to the more aggressive bridge and chorus. "The SRC" has some cruel grooves and steady pounding drums, another good if not great refresher on the old school sounds they used to churn out in the 80s, with a breakdown assured to get the kids flailing about and the wife to pull out her hair.
Ironbound sounds great, with punchy guitar riffs and one of the more charismatic frontmen in the genre. Blitz still knows how to use his voice as a weapon, it is both sadistic and unforgettable which is more than I can say for like 99% of the retro thrash bands currently clogging up the drainpipe, waiting for the flush. I can't help but think that a little more time to brew, and a scrapping a few of the more average tracks here, could have produced their best album since The Years of Decay, but true Overkill diehards will probably be very satisfied with the headbanging catalysts found within. Here's to another 16 albums, old friends. Don't let us down.
Highlights: Ironbound, Bring Me the Night, Killing for a Living
The truth is out there for good. Overkill may damn well be the best thrash metal band ever, without a doubt and this latest offering speaks for itself. “Ironbound” is probably their most consistent output since Horrorscope and that aint saying much. Albums like Bloodletting and Killbox 13 were definitely good but this release simply proves that Overkill have actually outdone themselves. I feel a certain level of pity for Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, as their recent products don’t stand a chance whatsoever in front of this monster but hey, its Overkill we’re talking about right? Arguably the first thrash metal band to come into existence. Only Heathen’s yet to be released “The Evolution Of Chaos” would in all likelihood be a worthy contender to compete with this.
The biggest surprise to be found in here is the removal of most of the groove element that had become an ingredient in the band’s sound after Horrorscope. Here the music owes a lot to their eighties stuff with enough fresh ideas to making the listening experience all the more enjoyable. Blitz sounds as nasty as always and his high pitched shrieks sound as spine chilling as they have always been over the years. And what can be said about the guitar duo of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer? These guys are simply outstanding. Their guitarwork is pure killer as their riffs and solos are basically a combination of breakneck thrash and solid traditional harmonies. They are by far the best replacements for Gant and Cannavino who themselves shone on Horroscope. D.D Verni once again proves why he’s one of the best metal bassists around. The skin pounder is yet again the veteran and former Hades drummer Ron Lipnicki and his drumwork on this album is likely to draw a lot of attention as this is some of the finest thrash metal drumming I’ve heard in a very long time.
I’m not going to spoil all the fun by reviewing each track in much detail as there are basically no fillers to be found here. Most of the songs are really fast and I am not exaggerating. This is by far the fastest the band has ever gone. The starter “The Green And Black”, the title track and also “In Vain” are absolute moshing essentials, especially the latter in which the drumwork is almost as frenzied as old school Holy Terror and Dark Angel. “Bring Me The Night” brings back some of the magical riffs from the NWOBHM scene whereas “The Head And The Heart” carries a certain vibe of the track “Overkill III” off the “Under The Influence” album in the starting riff section alongside that eerie death metal growl that kicks in when the main song starts. The starting riff of “The SRC” is quite possibly one of Overkill’s best especially with the part when the lead guitar comes in.
The most interesting aspect of this album is the mid sections of some of the songs that its almost hard to believe that this is the very same band that had almost drifted into near groove metal territory during most of their 90s career, though it would be unfair to say that they had sold out. On the other hand the guitar solos too are very stylishly done with all the dual guitar harmonies and usage of both blues and mohameddan scales. Even the groovier sections of some songs sound extremely catchy without sounding Panteraish whatsoever.
So let this be a lesson to all the newbies striving to thrash hard and rekindling the 80s thrash flame. This is how thrash should sound like. Being in existence for almost 30 years, this outfit from New Jersey continues to wave the flag of pure unadulterated thrash metal with their sheer enthusiasm, energy and the willingness to churn out quality stuff. It would be a huge shame if this album goes unnoticed in the year 2010 or thereafter, because for my money this is definitely up there on my list for “album of the year”. Overkill continues to shred!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After a couple of weak releases compared to the rocking "Killbox 13" I decided to give this one a shot. The problem with the two discs in the middle were mainly that they were too light and hard rock influenced. Here Overkill seem to have realized their faults, and the aim is extremes within their own classic sound.
The disc starts off with the eight minute thrasher "The Green & Black". I expected something epic and perhaps atmospheric here, but they delivered something even better. The whole song is just pure intense classic Overkill, complete with awesome catchy riffs, the mandatory headbang breakdown and Blitz's patented insane vocals. Since the riff quality and hooks exceeds all expectations the song doesn't feel longer than four-five minutes and opens the album perfectly.
"Ironbound" and "Bring Me The Night" continues down the same awesome road. The riffing is truly fantastic, being just as punishing as is infectious. "Bring Me The Night" is the single and it's not hard to understand why. It's full of classic metal hooks in the middle of the speedy chaos. The rest of the album is, while not as awesome as the first three songs, fairly even in quality with "Give A Little" and "Killing For A Living" as slight standouts.
Speaking about standout stuff, the production is another thing that makes "Ironbound" a winner. Peter Tägtgren gave them a full on metal sound, focusing on making the guitars and drums crunchy as hell. It fits perfectly and amplifies the already blasting music to new heights. Another change is that they've added way more guitar solos. This also works out well since they come in at just the right times in almost every song. Both in "Ironbound" and "Bring Me The Night" they serve as cool crescendos and just make it sound outright metal. Oh, and one thing that hasn't been tampered with; Blitz's vocals. They're as awesome as ever. Intense, crazy and he even goes for clean vocals, similar to awesome part in "Bleed Me" in "Give A Little" with great success.
While the album's intensity slows down a bit towards the end it's still a great listen all through. They've managed to create an album with modern production values that's undeniably and totally thrash. It's got a vast amount of memorable riffs, crazy vocal hooks and oldschool breakdowns. Exactly what I want from Overkill.
Standouts: First three tracks and "Give A Little"