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Under The Influence marked quite a turning point for Overkill. Thus far, they had been violently tearing their way ahead with two relentless thrash albums, but their third release became quite a disappointment to me. Here, you can tell that they're evolving and progressing their songwriting skills, as the arrangements on here are a bit more unpredictable and varied, and the lyrics don't only deal with moshing and destruction. But some of these arrangements feel a bit sloppily put together- they just hadn't gotten the songwriting technique down yet, and while all songs have their memorable moments they just don't flow very nicely, as opposed to the godly material that would follow on The Years of Decay.
Also, the production is just rather boring. The raw and aggressive guitar tone feels quite monotonous, and the bass is very loud in the mix but mostly just plays along with Bobby's guitar riffs, so that feels quite unnecessary.
The musical changes on here are instantly noticeable- first of all, the songs are pretty dark and down-tuned, so to speak. There's not much upbeat stuff on here, except for Hello From The Gutter, which not surprisingly is also the most melodic song on here.
The riff core on this album is also thrashier than the first two releases, and rarely goes in that speedy direction as before. This also adds to the darker and angrier vibe the album gives off, which is enhanced by the aggressive production job.
The vocals of Blitz are also changing here, and not once does he pull off those insane shrieks of his. Instead, he manages to do a voice that's higher than the general stuff on the first two yet still somehow darker, a style he would perfect on upcoming releases.
While most of the songs on Under The Influence fail to keep my attention all through, there's some really good moments to be found.
Shred does just what the title indicates - it fucking shreds, right from that very first ripping thrash riffs. Very catchy song, classic 'Kill style, and one of the best songs on here.
Brainfade has some really memorable vocal lines and a very solid midpaced riff at around 2 minutes which provides some nice headbanging time.
Drunken Wisdom begins with a nice acoustic intro, and then goes into a decent midpaced grinder to speed up in the middle right after the classic line: "Why don't you get yourself a life? Just get the fuck out!"
End of the Line is somewhat forgettable, but has a crazy solo with a lead section resembling to Maiden's Phantom of the Opera.
And of course the third part of the Overkill trilogy (which isn't really a trilogy, as the unofficial fourth and last part is E.vil N.ever D.ies): Under The Influence.
It has that one really evil-sounding melodic main riff and some further cool vocal lines, but is a bit of a disappointment compared to the first two (and last) parts of the Overkill saga.
Aside from Shred, there's really just one song that manages to stay solid from start to finish, and that's Hello From The Gutter. It's upbeat, memorable, melodic and catchy as hell. And it doesn't just stay solid, it completely owns.
It has no vicious thrash riffs and no particular in-your-face attitude, just a totally fun song that provides some variety from the darker and occasionally monotone mood that lies over the rest of the material on here.
But if you look aside from these good moments, there's also some less enjoyable things in here. The thrashy riffs that build the core for the album can get a bit uninteresting after a while, and combined with the harsh guitar tone they don't manage to give the songs much personality. The song arrangements are solid, and different from the early stuff, but just fail to grab my attention every once in a while. So in conclusion, this is not a bad album, just rather underdeveloped. But it was a turning point for the band, and would lead to better things to come...