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I was actually planning to review an Exodus album tonight, but seeing as half of Pleasures of the Flesh has gone walkabout on my computer, we're doing Overkill instead. There isn't much to say about the New York mob that hasn't been said in other reviews, so I don't feel that I need to give a background to this album; simply cast your eyes a few pages down for the skinny on that. What hasn't really been said in many of the reviews I've seen (and certainly not in such a British accent) is "Gosh, isn't this just so fun?" Because, when we're talking mid-80s thrash, there were fairly few bands who were both serious and fun to listen to: just for the record, we're not talking "fun" like Lawnmower Deth, nor even quite like Anthrax were fun, but more that you can't help smiling while you're giving yourself that spinal injury at the start of 'Wrecking Crew'. I find that I can get into Taking Over more than most of the other thrash names you'd care to mention.
So, what gives it that connection with people? There's a couple of things striking a balance here. The first is the production, which sounds pretty nice for its time, giving bite to the guitars, thump to the drums, and allowing Blitz's vocals to soar overhead with a touch more class. The bass is audible as well but not as a separate entity, so even I - general disliker of '80s production - can claim broad satisfaction. Importantly, that production suits the band's playing style right down to the ground, bringing me on to the second point. Taking Over is not an extremely thrashy album, though that's not to imply that it is diluted by other genres or too many outside influences, nor that it whiffs of sellout or the like. In songs such as 'Fatal If Swallowed', one can hear some of Overkill's early punk roots in the drumming and the melodies that open up the chorus, even if the ending lick is much heavier; then there are the more traditional heavy metal elements that had been weaned out of Slayer and Exodus compositions, but here point fingers towards Iron Maiden and Judas Priest during 'Fear His Name', and some speed metal bands at other points, such as during the very catchy riffage of the closing cut.
The final thing that makes this fun as opposed to just good is the songwriting and the attitude in those songs. I remember seeing Overkill in London back in 2009 or so and losing my friend after the first 20 minutes of the gig, but making so many other mates that I could hug, sing to, and even do a kind of headbanging can-can with. (For the record, the headbang can-can consisted of several guys standing in a line, linked arm in arm, and doing a kind of saucy bob every bar or so.) There was a really good vibe at that show and unless I'm mistaken it was 'Wrecking Crew' that got everyone fired up and 'In Union We Stand' that initiated the dancing. The other songs on Taking Over have a freedom to them as well, without the kind of pissed anger that the totally serious thrashers had, nor the goofiness of the actively fun ones: there are all sorts of small features that differentiate each composition from the last and we are able to span the range of emotions from threatening ('Fear His Name') to sentimental ('In Union We Stand') to spazzing out with energy ('Electro Violence'). There is plenty of time for leads, which is always cool, plus those leads transform from classic shredding ala Kirk Hammett in 'Electro Violence' to more destructive squalls in 'Fatal If Swallowed' to the careful melodic workout in 'Use Your Head'. Even the slightly punky drumming of Rat Skates works, keeping the energy up without making the style feel formulaic.
The other thing that is simply good about this album is that Blitz has a really great vocal performance. Although his voice has been distinctive on every Overkill release, the mastery that he shows here is important to keeping the excitement high and lending credibility to a middling bunch of lyrics. Some of his screams in 'Powersurge' and kicking off 'Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues)' rip through the listener's ears with sure venom, while his efforts to sound more majestic in melodic style give a whole different dimension to the songwriting, something that one cannot say about any other big thrash band, Testament excepted. That said, on a song like 'Use Your Head' when Blitz's stock vocals predominate, there isn't enough going on from the other members to draw attention until the leads come in, so that can be counted a weak song, while some may baulk at the ballad-like 'In Union We Stand', which is essentially a better version of Judas Priest's 'United' though certainly not a thrasher.
I'm not really sure if this is a problem or a benefit for Taking Over but that fun aspect I mentioned at the start of this review gives the album a distinctive character and memorable appeal though not the killer instinct of Reign in Blood or even Pleasures of the Flesh (which I still haven't found). Therefore, on the one hand, this won't kick you absolutely black and blue, but on the other this is a great listen and should ensure you make friends wherever you play it.
Here's Overkill's sequel to Feel the Fire, and this record is even more vicious and badass than the previous effort. Taking Over brings a truly furious high-gain driven vitriolic guitar tone along with another fantastic performance from all members of the band. They weren't lying, this album was their moment of taking over, as this album is Feel the Fire but packed with even more thrashy goodness and even more intensity. The songwriting is more focused and driven, while the band's punk attitude is fused with even more thrash styling to make for an overall beast of a thrash album. In the short of things, Taking Over kicks total ass - and you better fear its name.
Feel the Fire could be seen as more of a speed/thrash metal album with a bit of punk attitude rather than an all out thrash album. Taking Over raises the intensity, and this crosses into almost total thrash territory without sacrificing the signature sound that Overkill had built on the debut. The production is also quite a bit better, as Bobby G's tone receives a total overhaul - resulting in an absolutely fantastic guitar tone. Thick and crisp, without being too tinny or bassy, but 100% badass. The rest of the band has a similar sound and feel as the debut, but with an overall improvement in the musicianship. Taking Over is precisely how you'd expect Overkill's sophomore effort to sound - an upgrade across the board without compromising anything. They really did a fantastic job on this.
This album packs a wicked set of tracks that'll make any and every metalhead drool. Opening with the viciously speedy combo of "Deny the Cross" and "Wrecking Crew", this album wastes no time in kickin' ass and takin' names. Each of these feature vicious riffs, memorable hooks, and a heaping helping of plain coolness to hammer everything home. The first two, along with most of the album, succeed in keeping the speed of the previous album while injecting a new aggression and bite. "Electro Violence" brings a totally freakin' wicked riffset to the table along with some fantastic manic vocals from Bobby Blitz. My favorite track on the album is "Powersurge", with its awesome bass, really memorable chorus, and a monster thrash break in the middle. "The Nightmare Continues" offers a sequel to the original "Overkill" song dubbed "Overkill II". Might I also say, the riffset of this song is just ridiculously awesome. Being a 7 minute track, they took a risk of hurting the end of the album, but man, this track fires on all cylinders once it gets fired up.
The instrumentation is even better than it was on Feel the Fire, as stated earlier. Bobby Blitz' continues to offer a fearsome set of vocals to propel the already awesome music along. His voice is still clean and piercing, rather than the vicious rasp offered on later 'Kill albums. This may just be his best vocal performance, but his performances on either Horrorscope or Year of Decay might end up taking the cake; it's definitely a close one. Bobby G brings another fantastic one man thrash guitar performance playing all of the fantastic riffs and solos. DD is using the same style of bass playing, but the tone is grittier and it cuts through the insane guitar tone quite well. His bass playing is textbook thrash bass playing, his playing showcases pure brilliance alongside Rat Skates who performs exceptionally well again. The two make for one hell of a rhythm section, actually one of the best out of all of thrash. Pretty much everything comes together fantastically on this album.
As a whole, Taking Over is one of the best thrash albums to come out of the 80's whether you like it or not. Overkill absolutely owned it on this album with an unmatched aggression and unique style to set them apart from other acts. They would continue to own it for a few more records, but they would barely improve upon or match this album rarely in their career. Every song on here rules on so many levels. Even the weakest track, "In Union We Stand", still offers up a tasty, memorable thrash anthem full of great riffs and a great ending. Taking Over is a total must listen for all metal fans and especially thrash fans. This will wreck yer neck like nothing else can, and it comes highly recommended from me.
Destruction is a way of life; destruction, mayhem, havoc, strife
Crack a smile, hear the sound, watch 'em crumble to the ground
Innocence ain't no excuse, slip your neck inside the noose
Pay in blood, I demand; the wreckin' crew is outta hand
We're gonna walk all over you
'Cause we are the wreckin', wreckin' crew!
We are the wreckin' crew
We'll wreck your neck, wreckin' crew! Get wrecked!
When one thinks of East Coast thrash, one has to take into account New Jersey's legendary Overkill. After the essential thrash debut that was "Feel The Fire," Overkill returned to the studio and released one of their most intense albums that has stood the test of time for over two decades. "Taking Over" was the second release by this great New Jersey quartet and arguably, "Taking Over" is one of their best albums. There was no such thing as a sophomore slump for this band. With their innovative riffs, intense drummer, great bassist, and legendary front man, Overkill's second album is one of the essential thrash releases from the mid to late 80s.
"Taking Over" had one major improvement over its older brother "Feel The Fire", that being the production was significantly better than their 1985 debut. Now with this improved production, the riffs are sharper, louder, and they deliver some serious power. D.D. Verni is a madman on the bass. He adds some heavy weight with his five string while Bobby goes off and creates his great solos. In the realm of lead guitarists, Bobby Gustafson is one of the most underrated, especially in the mid to late 80s. The sheer ferocity of his riffs are enough to rival any other band. Don't expect the sheer technicality of say Jeff Waters, but Bobby always delivers with fun and catchy solos. Ellsworth has to shriek and yell simply to project his voice louder than normal to overcome the intensity from the rest of the band. The tracks "Wrecking Crew," "Powersurge," and "Electro-Violence" are prime examples of Ellsworth's vocal tenacity. Lyrically, don't expect anything too thought provoking or any deep symbolic meaning as Overkill has never really had the most interesting lyrics. However, what they lack in the lyrical department, they make up for ten times over with their musicianship. "Taking Over" has some of the band's greatest thrash tracks like "Deny The Cross" and "Fatal If Swallowed." This album also has the typical metal anthem, "In Union We Stand" and ends with the second installment of the never dull "Overkill" series.
Few bands could match the sheer intensity of this 1987 sophomore release from one of thrash's most respected bands. With Bobby Blitz's unique vocals and shrieks, DD Verni's powerful bass, Rat Skates on drums, and Bobby Gustafson's lightning fast and lethal performance, Overkill released one of their best and most intense albums in "Taking Over."
Overkill's second opus, Taking Over and yours truly are connected into eternity, as the album was released the same dubious month the world was blessed with my own arrival. What will also likely persevere eternally is the argument of what "might have been" had Overkill released their 1985 debut earlier (as I'm sure they would have liked), instead relegated to pestering Jon Zazula and not taking "no" for an answer while the thrash movement took off without enough people even knowing Overkill existed.
Tertiary background information aside, Taking Over was released in a post- Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets world, where the thin guitar sound and wobbly drum performance of Feel the Fire simply would not cut it. Gustafson argues to this day that on the debut it was "not his tone" because his head took a shit before recording began. I believe him, because the guitar tone on this album slays like no other. It is the epitome of what thrash distortion should be: not too bassy, minimal sustain, closer to NWOBHM than anything. The opening riff of "Wrecking Crew" (a song presently dedicated to the fanbase, although I believe it was originally written for the band's road crew) demands instant headbanging. Leads are also supple and less squealy sounding than they were on Feel the Fire. The slower, bass led build-up of "Fatal If Swallowed" hints to some of the band's doom tendencies on later releases. The melodic underpinnings of "Deny The Cross", the mid-paced swagger and Manowar tendencies of "Fear His Name", the ridiculous yet endearing barking during "Electro-Violence"; highlights essentially cease being highlights when there is so little to counterpoint their existence.
Ellsworth's performance here is the end result of some improvement on his part between Feel the Fire and '87, as he took some vocal lessons and honed his operatic tone that sadly was dropped on Under the Influence and never really revisited again afterward. The most intriguing factor is that he also utilizes a harsher tone, -in fact far more- which adds a nice balance to the lyrical onslaught. For example, the mid-paced "Fear His Name" features the operatic cleans to great effect, as does "In Union We Stand". In stark contrast we have the harsh barks of opener "Deny the Cross" and the blistering "Electro-Violence". The man is just full of surprises, a great example is his guttural roar of "Powersurge!" right before the breakdown in said track. I still believe Horrorscope features Blitz's best vocal performance, but Taking Over is a close, close second in that regard. Attached-at-the-hip comrade Verni is probably at his best here. His tone is actually far less up-front and clangy than what he would later be known for, but it just adds to the heaviness of the rhythm section too much to be regarded as anything other than a stylistic success.
While I consider the soon-departed Rat Skates to be the band's weak link (despite his massive behind the scenes efforts), he improved dramatically upon his debut performance two years before. Perhaps it was a matter of not being rushed, as the band recorded Taking Over throughout a several-month period. At any rate, he showed decent potential, and had the proclivity to fly off the handle a bit in his playing style, adding an air of (barely) controlled chaos to the whole ordeal. Alex Perialas redeems his average job on the band's debut with a much more balanced production effort. While I myself am a huge fan, I have heard fans bash the mix for trying to emulate Metallica's sonic profile. Rat Skates himself also feels that the band tried to overdo the guitars and as a result his drums got buried in the mix. If anything is amiss, I agree with Rat that it is the drums, but it is hardly a major gripe.
So as much as I have gushed about this album, you probably already see the score and are waiting for the other side of the coin. Well, I have to say, two songs about sex and groupies right after one another is a bit excessive: "Use Your Head" and "Fatal If Swallowed". I forgive the latter more than the former because it is a much more enterprising cut and was actually on the band's original demo. "Use Your Head" is easily the weakest track on here. I also know that many aren't blown away by the second chapter of the Overkill saga, but it is functional enough to these ears. If I can find a flaw, it is that it foreshadows some of the lyrical laziness that really hurt followup Under the Influence.
Overkill's best? No, that is still Horrorscope. Both albums have one throwaway track: "Use Your Head" here and "Bare Bones" in the latter's case. But Blitz's amazing vocals on Horrorscope push it ahead. Barely. Finally, there is no way I cannot mention the cover art. Simultaneously the best and worst thrash cover of all time. Blitz calls it the "Rambo look". Fear his name.
You gotta love Overkill. The New Jersey thrash output has been going on so strong for so long, rarely sacrificing their distinct sound and quality of their songs even during their weaker groove-laden times. "Feel The Fire" proudly reigns as one of my favorite metal albums. Admittedly, it took a while for me to warm up to their fairly similar follow-up album, 1986's "Taking Over". At the end of the day it still kills your face though.
I think what mainly bugs me about this album is the production. The songs basically sound heavier and thrashier here than on "Feel The Fire", but it sounds a bit too polished at times. I liked the sound of the last one better; it was louder, more raw and sounded pretty darn evil. "Taking Over" may be more aggressive at the end of the day, but the rawness and evil are sorely missed.
The bandmates still bring the fucking house down anyway. Rat Skates was always a nutjob drummer, not Overkill's best definitely up there with this best of 'em; he's fast as all hell, his double bass punishing and fills well-placed. The great DD Verni continues to give bassists as good name. Like most overkill albums, his bass is quite loud, matching the guitar often and dishing out vicious, speedy rhythm and riffs a plenty. Bobby Gustafon's guitar has improved since its simplicity on the previous effort. His skills are still pretty simplistic in of themselves but here he really shreds with confidence. And where would Overkill be without the great Bobby Blitz? He mixes charisma and true singing abilities with his deft raspy shrieks and snarls, some of which on here are the best in the band's early discography.
All in all, only two songs on "Taking Over" don't totally and completely ear-rape the listener with dirty East Coast aggression: there's "Fear His Name", which is rather a boring and totally skippable mid-paced number, and the second part in the "Overkill" series. A good song, with lots of good riffs, but I find it goes on a bit too long for its own good, especially when compared to it's uber-vicious and compact predecessor from "Feel The Fire". Everything else is pure fucking ownage. The album itself starts off with a pair of live favorites. "Deny The Cross" opens with some catchy melodic riffage before crashing headfirst into a barrage of unrelenting speed picking and arguably the most insane and vicious vocals of Mr Blitz on the whole album. "Wrecking Crew" follows up and continues with the Charger-on-fire-flying-past-your-house-at-5000-MPH sonic speed, ripping all who oppose with its catchy chorus and entertaining lyrics. Other highlights include: "Use Your Head" is one of my personal favorites, a somewhat galloping thrasher with sarcastic lyrics and about a whole song's worth of riffage squeezed into the last 10 seconds; the semi-epic "Fatal If Swallowed", with it's abundance of more killer riffs and rich guitar soloing, not to mention the bizarre sexual lyrics; and the fist-pumping anthem "In Union We Stand", sort of Overkill's take on stuff like "United" or "Take On The World".
Overall, this problems I have with are only minor. The loud, evil and raw production of "Feel The Fire" is missed, and only or two songs don't totally fucking murder you, best the rest sure as well do. Overkill is taking over; be ready and get a hold of this badboy today!
The second and last of Overkill's studio full-lengths to feature the band posing on the cover, a duty that would be handed off to someone, or 'something' for the followup Under the Influence, Taking Over leers at you with the promise of your own bullet ridden carcass. Let's be honest, these guys weren't just showing off their great looks. A few of them might have been sporting some spiffy perms, but they weren't exactly pretty boys. Feel the Fire revealed their silhouettes against the burning backdrop, and with Taking Over they're about to catch you in a four barrel crossfire. The threat was real, and these guys looked dirty and driven enough to enforce their sonic obliteration. Coincidentally, that is EXACTLY what transpires upon this sophomore, which to me remains the best individual album in their decades-spanning canon, and the iconic Overkill experience which has yet to be rivaled or reproduced by anything that would follow it.
Taking Over doesn't just revisit the manic personality of its predecessor, it pours a bucket of concrete over it with a more forceful, muscular guitar tone that gives Bobby's vocals a run for their money. The riffs on this thing are ungodly excellent, an aural matrix of brutal thrash redolent of what bands like Metallica were doing on their seminal Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets, only dowsed in East Coast gasoline and Ellsworth's impetuous screeching and pavement-preaching. In fact, Gustafson sounds so much stronger on this record that it feels like Blitz had to rely more on his higher pitched, howling delivery just to remain at the helm of this vessel. You've also got a tighter, intense performance from drummer Rat Skates, and while the increased tenacity of the six strings might serve to shove Verni's bass lines to the peripheral, he's still in there hammering away like a human piledriver. Like Master of Puppets, I've often found that the production of the album receives a few quips and complaints, but I'd have it no other way, because it truly helps capture that moment when the thrash niche was becoming more clinical, complex and hostile.
If I had to draft a 'top 10' list of Overkill tunes throughout the years, then I think it says a lot that at least six or seven of them would be lifted from Taking Over. It's really THAT good, and in fact I would have no qualms about naming it the top East Coast USA thrash record of all time, edging out other beloved beatings like Survive, Among the Living and Persistence of Time. It opens with a melodic escalation you simply don't expect in "Deny the Cross", accompanied by thudding war drums and masterful, minimal chugging that transition beautifully into the monolithic machine gun rhythm guitars while Blitz ruins your world with every murderous line of lyrics! The breakdown riff is fully gladiatorial with its thin, melodic underpinning and massive chords, the leads strange but superb, and the chorus (featuring a good gang shout) is among the most sticky of the 80s in this genre.
Other top flight tracks include the catchy punk-buster "Wrecking Crew", which would become the moniker for the band's fan club; "Fatal if Swallowed", which was drafted forward from the original Overkill EP with far superior production and atmosphere; "In Union We Stand", a mid-paced anthem with excellent pacing and roiling chugs through the verses; "Use Your Head", which like so many other pieces on this album, is an instant catalyst for reckless, moshing release; and "Powersurge", motherfucking ditto. But my favorite here is most likely "Electro-Violence", incendiary and intense (courting a lot of "Ride the Lightning" influence) with a chorus breakdown riff that should have replaced the S.O.D. theme on Headbanger's Ball. I'm talking to YOU, Kevin Seal, Adam Curry and Riki Rachtman. I know you're reading this! Simply put, this tune is one of those defining, unforgettable East Coast staples like a "Brainwashed" or "I Am the Law". If you don't like it, marker up those patches, dump your denim and hi-tops in the nearest trash can and go stuff yourself in a cubicle and listen to Katy Perry. License to be cool revoked!
The only song here I don't love, which frankly holds Taking Over back from the precipice of perfection, is the closer "Overkill 2 (The Nightmare)". I appreciate they were trying to follow up the eponymous horror themed track from the debut; to build their own 'franchise' like Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street (both of which turned out pretty goddamn awful themselves), but it's all too to rare that I feel it's spooky siren call. There are some nice techniques here, like the creepy bass of the intro and the little three-note melody sprung off the guitar line in the verse (to mimic the incidental horror scores of the period), but as a whole it's just not as lethal and efficient as all the (shorter) tunes leading up to it. That said, for the ninth man on your bench of nine, it's dependable enough to dunk a few severed heads into baskets.
'Taking Over'. No, they were not kidding, and through the years this album has transformed into one of my favorites of 1987, alongside other mighty thrashers like Killing Technology, Terrible Certainty, The Ultra- Violence, and the comparably vicious Finished With the Dogs. An irascible, unshakable paragon of punishing personality that the band just haven't been able to match in the ensuing decades. Gods know they've tried, but while Under the Influence and The Years of Decay had a few aces in the deck, and the more recent records like Ironbound have seen a streak of youthful energy permeate their weary ligaments, there is just no comparison on a song for song basis. Own it. Love it. Fear it. Own it again, for your little sister and brother. Buy your dog a copy. You have the technology. You just need soldiers. Remove your antenna, and then play it in the car when you've trapped your friends, until they too submit to the green and black, neck straining attack.
I was first introduced to Overkill after hearing "Thunderhead," from the album "Bloodletting", which motivated me to purchase the bands early work. It's albums like "Taking Over," that occasionally make me wish that I was born ten to twenty years earlier so that I could witness firsthand the rise of some of my favorite bands and heavy metal in general. "Taking Over" is classic thrash metal, plain and simple, and is one of my favorite thrash albums. The guitar work, drumming, and the vocals are simply perfect.
Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth's vocals are epic sounding at times, although for the current generation, they may take some time to get used to. He uses a high pitched, almost annoying style of singing that to me is reminiscent of glam metal (which outside of a few Twisted Sister songs, I've never listened to). During the chorus on "Deny the Cross," Ellsworth's voice sounds absolutely brilliant. At times, he sounds almost as if he is singing for a choir or an opera.
The work of D.D. Verni and Bobby Gustafson help lay the blueprints which later thrash metal bands, and eventually death and black metal bands would follow. The opening on "Powersurge," is phenomenal, and the guitar playing on classic songs like "Deny the Cross," "Wrecking Crew," and throughout the album is masterfully played. However on "In Union We Stand," the band shows that they're capable of playing ballads just as good as they are at playing thrash.
The problems I have though, is the lack of variety on the album, something that even great bands lack. The same basic structure is used for every song, with the exception of "Fear his Name," and "In Union We Stand." These two tracks are slow to mid-paced songs different from the high pace that the band normally plays. However they are the only exception to this.
The band makes up for this by making every single song sound as close to perfect as possible. Even though they use the same formula throughout the album, they use it really, really well. This is an album that fans of classic thrash metal will love, and that fans from my generation should absolutely listen to.
When approaching the sophomore effort of New York neck wreckers Overkill, the band that essentially coined said title, I always come back to the wallowing sentiment articulated by Saint Vitus of being born too late. By the proper standards of thrash metal, this is an album that would have been more at home somewhere circa 1984-85, but as the style didn’t quite catch on until a bit later, this and the famed Testament debut became slated as 1987 releases, despite not really fitting in with the scene after such consequential albums as “Reign In Blood”, “Darkness Descends” and “Seven Churches”. In truth, most of the material was written by 1984, but even the later compositions in “Overkill II” and “Use Your Head” still clings to the mentality of “Ride The Lightning” with its heavily present though downscaled, NWOBHM melodic influences.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of this album in terms of accessibility is the production, which is much crisper and punchier than the debut, though it also lacks the darkness of the latter. The first album that comes to mind particularly when looking at the heavy like an anvil guitar sound is “Ride The Lightning”, and particularly in the cases of “Powersurge” and “Use Your Head” the riff set is loaded up with a similar mixture of palm muted chugs and exploding power chord hits. However, even by the standards of said Metallica sophomore effort, this is more of a conservative reassertion of an older style of speed/thrash that is more indicative of albums like “Fistful Of Metal” and “Killing Is My Business And Business Is Good”, albeit taking some occasions to moderate the tempo a little and actually look back to some earlier metal bands who would sing a simple melodic rather than shatter windows with banshee wails in the case of the catchy anthems “In Union We Stand” and “Fear His Name”.
In spite of being mostly a rehash of a formula that had been well established by 1985, this album really gets the job done in the songwriting department and is just plain entertaining to the point that its lack of revolutionary ideas is a complete non-factor. Between Blitz’s blustering tenor and ear destroying wails, Bobby’s crunchy yet predictable riff set, and the killing machine that is the rhythm section of D.D. and soon to be departed Rat Skates, the result is a towering colossus of wrecking metal. The signature tune “Wrecking Crew”, which is a largely simple endeavor with a strong punk tendency to it, underscores the simple yet high effective formula at play here. The only area where complexity really takes hold in the way that it would later on with this band is that of “Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues)”, which while still in the same riffing paradigm, showcases the beginning of an epic formula that would become much more prominent on the next few albums.
For the thrash fanatic who really goes for the older guard before things started to get less catchy and more dissonant, “Taking Over” will take a very prominent place in any collection that includes the likes of “The Legacy”, “Game Over” and “Kill ‘Em All”. I personally tend to prefer the debut album because of the rawer production and dark mystique, but this in a similar league and will probably appeal even more to those who want crunchy riffs rather than creepy atmospherics. But even for those who identify with the cult of Quorthon, the dark rider of the overkill makes his triumphant return for a fresh new kill, only now his location has become inhabited with a group of demolition enthusiasts who like things that blows up. It’s all a matter of taste, but either way, this is quite delicious.
With the release of this follow up to the classic debut “Feel the Fire”, Overkill had firmly established themselves as a major force in the arena of thrash metal. While the classic predecessor was heavily rooted in NWOBHM and early speed metal, this album takes a step ahead for good and combines brutality with equal proportions of control to produce a relentless attack of chainsaw like riffs, thunderous drumming and vocals that aim for high decibel levels. But as the omnipresent fate that befell many a talent during those turbulent times in terms of changing music tastes and severe unrest in the music industry, this album too suffered a similar fate at not getting the recognition it deserved initially. Despite all of those factors, this is one of the best releases of 1987.
Aptly titled “Taking Over”, it was pretty imminent that Overkill meant business. They were out to take over the scene by flushing out wannabes and poseurs. The production is very heavy and I’m yet to hear a thrash metal album with such a crushing feel. Maverick vocal man Blitz sounds a lot like he would on the debut, but he pulls off some deafening shrieks on almost all the songs. It’s amazing how he does that so effortlessly. The rhythm section sounds highly beefed up, although the bass somewhat gets stepped over by the heavy guitar and drums. It’s very unlike the measures D.D Verni would take on the next few releases, where the bass is extremely prominent. Personally, I find this production to be better than any other albums released in the 80s.
The front cover doesn’t do this full length even an ounce of justice for what its worth. You take one glimpse of it and you could probably think of it as the cover of a B-grade action flick comprising of four young action heroes with guns. There’s also an uncanny resemblance to the cover of Darkness’ teutonic thrash fest debut “Death Squad”, except that the German quintet looked more morbid and scary.
The tracks are such that you wouldn’t need to feel the urge to skip at any time, purely because of the fact that each song is capable of standing on its own. “Deny the Cross” starts the proceedings with slow and plodding heavy riffs, almost Sabbath like before unleashing a fury of blazing fast metal mayhem with a chorus so infectious that it would take some doing to miss it. And what a way to follow up than the thrash wreck that gave them the nickname “Wrecking Crew”, a barrage of E minor riffs that blend really well with the vocals and the chorus. “Fear his Name” is perhaps the only track on the album that wouldn’t have looked out of place on “Feel the Fire”, with Maiden like harmonies and hooks. Overall a very catchy track nevertheless.
The thrash carnage continues with the next three tracks which spare the listener no time for rest, especially “Powersurge”, which just screams pure power!! Next up is the essential epic anthem “In Union we stand” that talks of world unity in thrashing style, a video for which was also recorded. The bridge section of “Electro-violence” which combines heavy riffs with a devastating chorus is arguably one of the best moments in thrash metal history. The closing track is part two of the “Overkill” saga that is filled with insane shrieks, punishing riffs and a chorus that is simply beyond words. “The Nightmare continues” ends with a clean guitar part at the end which forms the intro of the third installment of the legacy that’s present on the successor. Has any other thrash metal band ever attempted that? You know the answer.
This album holds a really special place in my collection. The feeling of unmatched nostalgia always seems to “awaken in me” as soon as I load this up in my deck. I’ve heard it a million times and yet I can’t seem to get enough of it. This is the kind of nightmare I'd like to cling to my whole life. Are you looking for some quality early thrash metal from the east coast? This one would do just fine. Grab it fast!!!
“Taking Over” was the second and last album with drummer Rat Skates who gave the old Overkill a punk feeling at times because of his style of drumming . Punk drums were very important in the development of early thrash metal (Slayer anyone? or what about the Celtic Frost song ‘Into The Crypts Of Rays’) Also this album can be considered their most pure old school thrash metal album with the exception of some heavy metal based material. I will not elaborate about all the songs too much this time because the album mostly is one good trip from start to finish.
The album takes a flight immediately with two of the best songs they ever wrote, namely ‘Deny the Cross’ and ‘Wrecking Crew’ which both a re filled with typical eighties thrash metal riffs, high tempi and a very catchy chorus. ‘Wrecking Crew’ is slightly more punk-influenced and ‘Deny The Cross’ is a more eerie and evil sort of thrasher.
The anthem ‘In Union We Stand’ is one of the most famous songs from this album and personally the only track I do NOT like. It is a slow paced heavy metal anthem with a Manowarish chorus of which I can only say I do like that genre but truly think this kind of song does not suit Overkill, does not suit the rest of the album and should be sung by melodic vocalists like Michael Kiske, Bruce Dickinson or Eric Adams
“Taking Over” is an important early thrash metal album and one of the best ones from Overkill. Due to the bad (foggy and sloppy) production and the horrible album cover I must however deduct a few points. But still, 95 points is quite a score, right?
Overkills second attemp comes close to being as good as their first. It doesn't have the same moments as feel the fire does...certainly not the intensity, but it sure as hell offers so much to make this one great thrash album by Overkill. Its fast, lengthy, heavy, and has a more thrash sound to it that Feel The Fire...its a transitional album between Overkill's speed/thrash metal days into their late 80's early 90's thrash sound. It combines the best of these two different Overkill styles and delivers thrash greatness.
Blitz's vocals are still similiar to how they were on Feel The Fire. Pretty clean, not raspy at all like Overkills newer stuff. They are authoritative and have more attitude than Mr. T. He sings about kicking your brains in, taking over...destruction, pretty intense stuff. The way Blitz delievers the lyrics on this album certainly makes the songs have a destructive anthem for thrash metal theme. Thats what most of the songs on this album sounds like aside from Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues), anthems for thrash. As well he sings with such intensity it gives me goosebumps and energy.
The guitars are full of great thrash riffs, solos, and rolling guitar work. The songs will have this great main riff thats heavy and grabs your attention. Blitz's vocals will come in and Mr. Gustafson keeps playing his guitar with this rolling riff that keeps the song heavy and thrashy. The guitars have great rythym thoughout the songs as well. Overall they are fast when they are not playing a main riff but keeping the rythym while Blitz sings. The main intro riffs are pretty slow, but heavy and authoritative.
Overall this is Overkill's thrid best work, falling shortly behind Fell the Fire and The Years of Decay. It offers the speed of old Overkill, the heavyness of the early 90's overkill, and a mixture of those two disticnt Overkill eras in their early career. This is a solid thrash album, nothing from 1987 beats this in the thrash genre. A great follow up to Feel The Fire
By the time Overkill had gotten their label deal, they had enough material for two albums. This is the second, and most everything on here was part of their setlist by 1984. Consequently, this album has a pretty similar feel to Feel the Fire, though the production is much nicer, bringing out the riffs pretty well.
The newest songs on here, Use Your Head and Overkill Part II, both written around 1986, have a definite Nuclear Assault feel to them, as far as the riffs are concerned, especially with the driving under-verses riff of Use Your Head. Some of the older stuff is more melodic, namely Deny the Cross and Fear His Name, which have a bit of a speed metal influence to them.
The highlight of the album is Overkill Part II, which manages to combine brutal riffs, nice atmosphere, and killer lead guitar into one epic song. This closes the album on a definite high note. Overall, it's quite a good album, and fans of Feel the Fire should definitely pick this one up.