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Overkill lives up to their modern metal masterpiece, Ironbound, with a faster and harder, but less diversified album. This album pretty much has the same production job as Ironbound, too. And like Ironbound it is mostly thrash with all the good elements of their '90s work put into effect to where it adds to the music, but doesn't detract from it. Like almost any Overkill before it, the vocal lines are all very catchy and Blitz is still the same snarling badass he's always been, especially with lines like "you got a lot of mouth for a Jersey white boy" or "don't you look so fucking sad, I'll beat you like you never had"
Opening with Come and Get It and closing with Good Night, this album contains elements that are found all over Overkill's discography, successfully mixing their '80s thrash with a fair amount of their '90s groove. In a way, this and Ironbound could be considered a second prime of Overkill as the material is excellent and they show no signs of slowing down. Then again, Overkill has never really released a bad album because you can always find a few zingers on any Overkill album.
The production on the album is pretty much the same as Ironbound as every instrument can be heard perfectly and it sounds like a modern production, just without all the overproduction that happens in most of today's mainstream music. In fact, this production provides a lot of clarity and clearness in the sound while still sounding rough.
The guitar work of the epic team of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer is superb, providing fresh metallic thrash riffs with a little groove thrown in for good taste. Their are riffs a plenty and no one song sounds the same. Black Daze is slower than the rest of the songs, but has a nice groove riff in it while other songs are more thrash-tinged and even have some Iron Maiden-sounding riffs, like in Save Yourself. The solos at some points are reminiscent of the lead work on Megadeth's Rust in Peace. This can be seen in opener Come and Get It and Drop the Hammer Down as well as other songs on the album.
On the bass we have D.D. Verni, who as always is audible and delivers his classic adrenaline-pumped bass lines. His tone as always is that metallic crunch that we all enjoy and puts in some fills. His performance is never lacking and that is probably why he has remained one of my biggest influences on the bass to this day.
The drums fit the music and Ron Lipnicki's style brings in a lot of clicks and clacks as well some pounding rhythms to unleash Overkill's brand of thrash upon the listener. He manages to keep it thrashy, yet something is different about his style as it just doesn't sound like your generic thrash drums. It pounds, but you also end up paying attention to the drum beat and it doesn't just fade into the background like some other thrash songs. In a way, the drums make their own identity and works great.
Overall, what we have here is some catchy thrash with a little groove thrown in and it sounds great. Other bands have failed to pull off groove Overkill succeeds with and manages to make groove metal sound great, unlike most other bands in the genre.
Highlights: Drop the Hammer Down, Electric Rattlesnake, Save Yourself.
In metal and music at large, there's an unfortunate trend of artists 'wearing out their welcome', so to speak. A perfect example of this is Metallica, who- despite continuing to sell out stadiums- have become something of a laughingstock in recent years for their post-90s transgressions. On the other hand, bands such as Iron Maiden and Overkill have continued to receive praise and excitement for new albums. Lasting inspiration and band chemistry is certainly a factor when considering the long-term popularity of bands like these, but I think a large part of it has to do with sticking to a band's roots. While Metallica beckoned the chagrin of metalheads worldwide for dancing with mainstream rock and 'trash can metal', the long-term winners stick to their guns, maintaining their trademark sound and giving it a kick in the rear once in a while to keep it fresh. Approaching a new Overkill album, fans know what they're going to get. In the case of this legendary East Coast act, it is a lethal dose of ball busting, over-the-top thrash metal. "The Electric Age" is a proud testament to the band's longevity- thrashers, take heed!
Overkill have not held the broadsword of excellence high throughout their entire career, but 2010's "Ironbound" sought to bring back the glory. In that sense, "The Electric Age" is not much of a revelation or 'surprise comeback' record; it's a continuation of the heavy-hitting fury they're known for. Comparisons have been drawn between the sound of Overkill and that of Megadeth, and it rings true on "The Electric Age." However, while Megadeth went a bit conservative with energy and speed in their more recent material, Overkill maintain the same burstfire aggression of their youth. As a testament to their experience as musicians, Overkill continue to refine their production standards and technical precision.
The guitar duo of Linsk and Tailer is one of the best matches in thrash metal today. Although most thrash guitarists I've heard tend to rely on the twenty second solo opening to demonstrate their proficiency, these two bring the incredible musicianship to the rhythms. I get the impression listening to the busy, shifting riffs throughout "The Electric Age" that Linsk and Tailer were trying to outdo the earlier incarnations of Overkill. Although they aren't original members of the band, they sound right at home with Overkill. The riffs come a dozen a minute it seems, and the tight songcraft manages to tie it all together in such a way that they all compliment each other.
Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Overkill has always been Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth. Like a thrash metal Bruce Dickinson, his voice has stood the test of time, belting out his blistering combination of snarls and falsetto shrieks as well as he ever has. Megadeth is certainly a go-to comparison for any newcomers, but I'd also go ahead and cite a strong similarity to GWAR in parts. This pair of GWAR and Megadeth is mirrored greatly in the vocal delivery, best demonstrated in the album's heavy highlight "Old Wounds, New Scars." The vocals switch off between a Mustaine-esque snarl, a deep clean voice that could pass for Oderus Urungus, and- of course- Bobby's signature shriek. At times, Bobby's inflections will get a bit nasal for my tastes, but I cannot think of a better vocalist to match Overkill's aggressive style.
I'll admit; "The Electric Age" is my first full-album experience with Overkill. However, what limited listening I had done endowed me with a sense of respect and expectation for this album. In a word, it's excellent. Memorable songwriting, rich production, and an incendiary performance. It's nothing really new for Overkill, but it does not disappoint in the slightest.
Overkill have always been one of those thrash bands that to me, never released any bad albums. Sure there were a few that obviously wasn't as good as the others, but never an album I felt "what the fuck is this shit?" about. Though it seems like the band had their peek during the eighties and early nineties, like most thrash bands, Overkill seem to have gotten a new peek in recent years. Ironbound was a bomb that got dropped in 2010, a thrash album every true fan of the genre had wanted for a long time. The Electric Age is no exception two years later as the band is in the middle of a nuclear war, it seems!
Since its release I've had the time to go through it a bunch of times and it sure is one solid piece of metal music! While unfortunately most other big thrash bands today put out mediocre albums, Overkill really do the opposite. I think it shows in albums sales / popularity as well. When the album kicks in with "Come And Get It" my first thought was "is this Megadeth?". It sounds like something Megadeth should've done, but did not. It's a very great opening track that shows what this album is like. After the Megadeth-like opening the song kicks into traditional Overkill style, but the song has one more big surprise ahead! The middle section turns into a sort of marching thing reminiscent of many great eighties heavy metal bands. Throughout the whole album there actually is an Iron Maiden-feel in particular songs, so think classic Overkill meets Megadeth cirka 2007-2009 meets Iron Maiden. Next song to go is the lead single "Electric Rattlesnake" - a catchy, fun, and to-be live staple kind of tune. As the album continues we hear "Black Daze", a mid-paced song that also is very catchy and reminds me a little of Megadeth's "In My Darkest Hour". "Drop The Hammer Down" is a given to-be fan favorite and the ending track "Good Night" stands for this album's most "ballad" like tune, which is a very common and great thing Overkill have on most of their albums. It's very catchy and I sure only hope the song doesn't point at that this could be the last Overkill album. In between all these stick-outs there are some very solid and good Overkill album, though maybe not of lead single-caliber?
The album sound continues in a similar vein to Ironbound but the songs are overall shorter and not as progressive. Think that this is a stripped-down, more straight to the point Ironbound version and I think you've got the idea. I think this was a great move by the band as another "that" progressive album maybe wouldn't have matched its predecessor. Instead Overkill take the energy and quality of Ironbound and put it into a more "classic Overkill album" style.
In conclusion this album was both very surprising and not. It was surprising that the band managed to do an equally good album after the awesome Ironbound, but at the same time it's not surprising as I imagine that the band got really fired up by the great response Ironbound got. In the end this album shows that Overkill are in a new peek in their career and I feel a need to mosh and drink beer while listening to it. I raise my fist in honor of Overkill for succeeding once again, with hope that there will be more albums of this caliber in the near future!
I feel pretty secure when I say that Overkill will most likely be the winners in 2012!
The unexpected success of Overkill's 2010 album Ironbound placed the band in a rather precarious position. Essentially the first record in many years to generate such a positive wave of buzz for the band, it arrived at just the point where thrash had gone completely viral with a number of retro acts culling the sounds of the 80s into modern production standards. A whole new generation of thrasher was inspired to jump aboard the Chaly express, and at the same time, many fans of the groups first 4-5 records who had long since abandoned them to the middling groove experiments that were so dominant in the 90s finally felt they could return to that Overkill they fell in love with. Personally, as someone from the latter camp, I found Ironbound to be a decent record, if nowhere near so exemplary as many had painted it. The lethal, youthful energy seemed to have repossessed Jersey's finest, and the songs were easily as strong as Killbox 13 (the one other post-80s Overkill album I was borderline into) but precious few of the actual songs justified such lavish praise.
But would it prove a fluke for Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth and company? Would they achieve their 15 minutes once more, then sink back into another decade or so of relative mediocrity? From the sounds of the follow up, The Electric Age, I can proudly say not a chance in hell, because not only does this record reassert the groups charismatic volatility in spades, but the more I listen through this the more it sticks with me. In fact, I already like it more than Ironbound, and have no problem declaring it their best studio full-length since Under the Influence in 1988. Yes, better than The Years of Decay. Or Horroscope. Even in the very dregs of this album, like the petulant chugfest "Old Wounds, New Scars" or the more boogie metal infused "21st Century Man", the personality of Blitz alone is enough to carry what otherwise might feel like a less inspired set of riffs. The pacing throughout is violent and dependable, the riffs feral and bombastic even when they're not memorable, and at least a dozen times here, you feel as if you've been run over by the band's tour bus as it patrols the city streets stalking new venues to destroy.
This is by far the best guitar tone they've achieved in a great many years, with plenty of bite to it that drops out wisely for the ferocious, warped lead-work, and both the muscled staccato chords and palm mutes sound brazen, with as much current as Chaly's electric wings on the cover. There are a few grooves I found rather bland and empty here or there, like the breakdown in "Electric Rattlesnake", but in general songs like "Wish You Were Dead" and "All Over But the Shouting" take you straight back to the 'powersurge' of the 80s and they're propulsive enough to blow over anything that many of the band's peers from the Golden Age are producing lately (like Exodus, for example). The bass lines are superior to about eight albums leading up to this one, Verni gunning alongside the guitars without flagellating over himself like some would say he used to in the late 80s alongside Gustafson's writing; and Ron Lipnicki makes a strong account for himself here, laying into the kit with a fury his predecessors like Mallare and Rat Skates could only muster on their very best outings in the band's catalog.
All of this pales in comparison to Bobby mother fucking Blitz, who reinstates himself here as that guy you don't want to lock horns with in a dark alleyway. The self-reflective chorus lines in tracks like "Old Wounds, New Scars" ('Got a lot of mouth for a Jersey white boy/beat the drum, now you've gone too far') or "Wish You Were Dead ('got me spinning in circles/hanging by a thread/if I had one wish to use, I swear it/I wish you were dead') truly get the listener's blood stirring and prompted for a fist fight with whoever is available, something I just couldn't have said for an Immortalis or ReliXIV. In truth, this is probably the strongest of his performances outside Feel the Fire and Taking Over, he comes off slightly more edgy and aggravated than even Ironbound, and considering just how crucial his delivery is to the success of an Overkill album...it's money in the bank.
Despite all this praise, and its numerous overt strengths, The Electric Age still falls shy of greatness by a slim margin I'd largely attribute to the riffing, which is strong enough to support Blitz and maintain the gnashing, abusive fire under the album's ass, but not really all that distinct when broken down to individual patterns and progressions. Pacing and structure trump quality. There aren't any that I wanted to learn on my guitar once the smoke cleared. For fans old and new, it's likely money well spent, but while it's clearly got some replay power, I'm not sure how long it can endure, or if I'll care for songs like "Come and Get It" in another 3-5 years. The post-80s Overkill masterpiece still seems to elude me (though I realize I'm in the minority with all the gushing over Ironbound), but this certainly edges them in the proper direction, and there are least 30-40 minutes here of solid headbanging frenzy driven by THE VOICE.
Overkill has basically rendered itself as the gold standard by which any thrash outfit should be measured, paying their dues through both the touring and recording medium, and proving that consistency will trump misguided innovation any day of the week. One could argue that the reason they are not regarded as a member of the so-called Big 4 is because they kick way too much ass to be boxed into a commercial box and passed off as something consumable by the standard hipster type (this is not to denigrate the obvious accomplishments of Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth or Slayer). It’s not merely enough for Overkill to thrash, they literally have to curb stomp every single head they come across to the point of justifying Obamacare.
But pretentious fan-boy worship aside, Overkill has developed a highly effective approach to the modern incarnation of thrash metal that is neither a slave to the past nor by any means a departure from the style’s roots. They’ve gone through a couple of mild slumps due to a slight over-emphasis on the slower, grooving approach to heaviness since the mid 90s, but even when incorporating elements of Pantera and Machine Head, they’ve always remained a cut above the rest. “The Electric Age” is an album that doesn’t fall into the latter category in any way, shape or form; but is an outright speed and riff assault out of the same playbook as “Killbox 13” and “Ironbound”.
The overall character of this album is mildly processed, pretty close to the extra-punchy mix of drums and guitar distortion heard on recent output by Heathen and Death Angel. However, much of the riff work hearkens back to the early days of speed/thrash heard in the early works of Metallica and Megadeth, with a slight helping of pummeling grooves in the mold of Exhorder. This is particularly noticeable on the utterly astounding combination of old and new displayed on “Come And Get It” and “Electric Rattlesnake” where a rapid fire thrashing approach normally reserved for something under 4 minutes is extended with a set of hard edged breakdown/interludes that are slightly oriented towards the early 90s half-thrash sound (part of the interlude of “Electric Rattlesnake” has some obvious influences from “Cowboys From Hell”).
But regardless to whether things are fast or slow, or in longer packages like the first two songs, or a more compact dose of frenzied glory like “Wish You Were Dead” and “Save Yourself”, the elements are all in place and ready to crush all who oppose with an overwhelming display of force and defiance. The only thing more impressive than the ingenious mixture of flashy solos, biting rhythm lines and drum beats is Blitz’s utterly nasty vocal display. After more than 30 years of this guy punishing his own voice on the road, somehow that raving warlock character hasn’t lost any of its grit or gusto as one dirty shout leads to an even higher pitched set of primal screams.
For obvious cult adherents to the temple of the winged skull like myself, owning everything this band puts out is a no-brainer, but this particular album is definitely a must have for anybody who wants a modern alternative to the current revivalist craze going on right now yet doesn’t feel like jumping on the Machine Head bandwagon. In particular, anyone who was taken in by the sound that typified “Horrorscope” and has since been displayed on “Bloodletting”, “Killbox 13” or “Ironbound” will take this like a mutated fish to toxic infused water. Drink and bang your head in bad health.
You just can't beat a bit of Overkill. The wrecking crew are back, for the proverbial attack with their mighty sixteenth (!) full-length release The Electric Age. Thrash fans are going to want to buy this without further persuasion. Seriously, order this bad lad right now. As for the more curious, I bid you read on.
First things first, the production is absolutely fucking perfect here. If you were to ask me what modern thrash should sound like, I'd present this album to you with a massive, shit-eating grin. The kit sounds great, punchy, with the only slight niggle being that the cymbals could have a slight more bite. The guitar tone is great, well rounded and the lead guitar tone is straight out of Marty Friedman circa 1990. Now the absolute star of the production is the bass. A lot of bands neglect bass, but Overkill proudly put the bass into the foreground, and with a player like D.D. Verni they would be stupid not to. Every single guitar and bass stab slaps you in the face with the force of an electrically-charged bionic arm.
With such a good sound, you obviously need good performances, and surprise surprise; this is exactly what we find on The Electric Age. Bobby Blitz sounds bloody half his age, utilizing plenty of power and some great Halford-esque screams. Guitarists Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk are also on the money here, spewing forth brilliant speed metal riffs, face-splattering thrash breaks, and holy shit the lead guitar work is out of this world. As for the rhythm section, do I really need to say much? D.D. and Ron provide a frighteningly tight backbone, with solid grooves, and schooled restraint.
As for the songs, well every single track is absolutely class. Each of which boast either great riffs, catchy choruses, wild solos, or furious thrash breaks, a lot of which feature all of these things. Some of the notable standouts for me would be "Electric Rattlesnake" with its classic, grooving middle section, "Old Wounds, New Scars" which boasts a hilarious shout-along moment in the "Got a lot of mouth for a Jersey white boy" line, and finally "21st Century Man" which features a fair bit of Megadeth styling, and also houses the album's finest guitar solo, pure Marty worship.
Whilst new releases from Kreator and Testament are ready to drop over the next few months, I'm unsure as to how well they're going to stand up to The Electric Age. Overkill have been on fire for the majority of their career, people talk of "big fours" but really I don't think any thrash band has been as consistently on the money as Overkill. This is another classic release from one of the genre's absolute masters, and any fan of thrash metal would be a moron to pass this up. If you've yet to hear this band then... Wait a second, if you've yet to hear this band you're probably on the wrong site, jog on, poser. For the rest of us, let's turn this up to 11!
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Overkill is back and they must have felt a jolt in their system. The New Jersey boys now have 17 albums under their belt and they sound better than ever. It was going to be tough to top their last output in “Ironbound”, but they have found a way to meet expectations.
The two main men, vocalist Bobby Blitz and bassist D.D Verni, have cooked up ten monsters that don’t let up until after the last note is played. “Come and Get It” storms through with crushing riffs and a shredding solo from Dave Linsk. The first single in “Electric Rattlesnake” has some Black Sabbath moments and the ascending rhythm part with a slicing bass and pumping drums near the end combined with the final solo is memorable and drives a great song.
The production is again outstanding on this album. Overkill has, with a couple exceptions, always brought the best sound out of their instruments from “The Years of Decay” to “The Killing Kind” to “Ironbound.” The drums by Ron Lipnicki and the riffing by Derek Tailer are in your face just as they were on “Ironbound.” The top-notch production puts other heavyweights such as Slayer and Metallica to shame.
The thrashing continues with “Drop the Hammer Down” which would make the mighty Thor proud. It features a nice melodic solo and Blitz delivers an awesome chorus as if he’s about to bring the pain with his weapon. The verse also has a beautiful transition to that chorus and another one of the standouts. “All Over but The Shouting” has a title that wouldn’t look strange on a Cannibal Corpse album. The backing guitar theatrics with Blitz delivering the narrative is a nice touch.
However, there are a couple instances where the songwriting is not as strong. “Save Yourself” is a generic thrasher with not much going for it. The riff is bland and it fails to develop into something great. The other track that does not deliver is “Old Wounds, New Scars.” The song is homage to their New Jersey background, but the chorus is awkward and when it seems like the song is going to pick up steam, it doesn’t.
With that being said, “The Electric Age” is a winner. Even though his voice has been through a lot, Blitz’s vocals are as charismatic as ever and Verni is still delivering bass lines that make him one of the best in the business. The fellas have really hit their stride after the disappointment that was “Immortalis” back in 2007. Blitz ends the proceedings in a fitting way uttering “Good night.” Thank you Blitz and the rest of the ‘Kill; I will have a good night’s rest after taking in the shock of “The Electric Age.”
After more than thirty years Overkill still stand tall and haven't changed a bit. They are as hungry and wild as in their early years and after the brilliant thrash metal revival that was "Ironbound", the Americans deliver another genre highlight only two years after the last strike with the energizing "The Electric Age". This record is not as brilliant as the last one but comes quite close after all and should be a must have on the list of any thrash metal fan out there in the universe.
Already the opening track "Come And Get It" takes no prisoners. The vocals sound angrier and hungrier than ever before and the song itself is filled with many interesting changes, killer riffs and an amazing bass guitar work. All over the record we can hear punk influences from bands such as The Exploited or Sex Pistols, classic heavy and power metal bits and pieces that make me think of Accept or Grave Digger and also some stuff reminding me of Black Sabbath or the genre colleagues of Metallica in the calmer tracks of the record. Anyway, the final mixture definitely sounds like Overkill but I want to underline the excellent mixture of straight riffs and surprising diversity.
My personal highlights apart of the brilliant opener are the retro banger "Save Yourself" that dominates with multiple energizing vocal parts, once again an excellent bass guitar performance and a sharp solo in a perfect running time without any lengths. Everything is said in not even four minutes which has become a very rare quality in the metal scene that perpetually tends to produce overlong and often boring epics, even in the thrash metal scene.
If bands might work on pieces with a longer running time, they should at least be of the quality of the third highlight of this record which is "Good Night". The track starts with soft guitar sounds that make me think of Metallica's "Fade To Black" or "To Live Is To Die" but the track turns quickly into a pitiless piece of excellent thrash music that makes me think of Metallica's "Master Of Puppets" or the more recent "Cyanide" because of its multiple breaks and atmospheric parts. This track is without a doubt the most diversified song on the entire album and my personal favourite. I wish Metallica would write this kind of music nowadays instead of doing weird experiments with aged rock icons and releasing shallow bonus tracks from old recording sessions.
Even if there are a couple of only solid tracks on this release such as the rather ordinary "Wish You Were Dead" that seems to be written as a straighter piece for some live performances and "21st Century Man" that sounds too much like any other classic Overkill track which are the reasons why this release is not as strong as the last Overkill album or some of their earlier works, this is still a top notch thrash metal record with many new hymns, a few diversified experiments and several future live anthems. I also feel that more complex tracks such as "Electric Rattlesnake" grow each time I listen to them once again and that this album has indeed some serious long time potential. This record is nothing really groundbreaking or new but a hell load of fun to listen to. After this release, I also definitely feel the need to want to see these guys in concert. So please come and get this release!