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After many years of playing live without recording anything, the first thrash metal band finally went into the studio to record some of their songs. And although they still need some improvement the outcome is pretty good.
The sound is obviously of poor quality, with a very weak drum sound, equalizing and mixing mistakes, etc but that will affect nothing since it's a fucking demo, you know? The first track is not the Motörhead song they named themselves after, but a track of their own. Way better than the 1985 version found in the debut album mainly because of Bobby's vocals being more aggressive and the guitar tone much more rawer and vicious (and not only because of the production).
Actually the vocals sound quite good for a demo, since they are very clear and at the front of the mix, something quite surprising as most demos bury the vocals. The guitar work is pure primitive thrash, with a heavy NWOBHM influence but simplistic too - most riffs are easy to play but very effective. Just look at the main riff in There's No Tomorrow... anyone playing a guitar for couple of years will execute that riff, but tell me it doesn't kick ass. The slow Sabbath-esque part in the middle of that song doesn't work too much for me, but the solo makes up for it. Actually most lead work is a pile of wankery going nowhere, which I find is the main flaw in this demo (and in most thrash), but this particular solo is very good.
The drum work is furious and the guy really puts a lot of effort, using his double bass in a way that will get you going, and though he doesn't throw a lot of fills and whatnot, it's still nothing to bitch about. The energy level here is through the roof.
Overall, this one is a strong demo that should show to everyone how thrash was meant to sound like. You can already see here the problems of thrash that ultimately led to its fall about ten years later, namely the future popularity (ahh… the mainstream destroys everything… ) and the fact that every pothead can form a thrash band, but that shouldn't detract from the listening experience.
It's their first demo, can we give them a bit of a break? Three songs on here would make it onto the first album: There's No Tomorrow, Raise the Dead, and Overkill. All three sound similar to the album version, the main difference being Blitz's vocals being not nearly as strong. The other two songs are Death Rider and The Beast Within.
A bit of trivia: The Beast Within is quite possibly the first ever thrash song. They wrote it in 1981 or so, and that main break after the chorus is about as thrash as it gets. It's otherwise a pretty average song, something that would not be out of place among the first few Exodus compositions that didn't make it to Bonded by Blood, or even some Venom material.
The last song is Death Rider. This is the masterpiece of the album, and actually is oneof the best songs Overkill has ever done. It's formulaic as fuck 80s speed metal, but for 1983 it's actually pretty innovative. It sounds like Hell Bent for Leather intensified up to another notch - almost to Freewheel Burning level, with that main melodic solo in the middle. It's maybe Overkill's catchiest song, and is definitely the best on this demo, and thus the appropriate choice to represent Overkill on "Metal Massacre V".