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While Overkill were late starters on the thrash scene, they more than made up for it by being one of the most prolific bands of the late '80s. Under The Influence was their third album in two years when it was released in 1988, and the rapidity at which the albums had been released had no effect on the quality of the material whatsoever.
So what were Overkill serving up for the Wrecking Crew? Well, it was a good dose of solid riffing, bass with attitude, some of the most imaginative drumming to be heard in the entire scene, and perhaps the second best thrash vocalist in Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, bettered only by Joey Belladonna.
Bobby Gustafson proved himself one of the most versatile guitar players of the time, multitracking crushing rhythm and searing lead guitars on the same songs. To make up for the lack of a second guitar, DD Verni's bass is high in the mix, sacrificing a bit of bottom end to fill the mid range gaps. The two blended together incredibly well to produce a distinct sound which set Overkill apart from the crowd.
The shout–along of "Hello From The Gutter", while a little cheesy now, was a typical Overkill thrasher– a catchy main riff, backed by the rock solid rhythm section, topped with Ellsworth's distinctive voice and some tasty leads.
No one ever did this band any favours as they fought their way up from the gutters (Hello!), which is reflected in some of the dark lyrical themes running through their songs. Broken dreams, the depths of drunken despair, the end of the line, all may have seemed lost, but there was definitely hope there for Overkill. "Shred", "Never Say Never" and "Headfirst" had more positive themes coming through, like new beginnings and pride in being yourself.
But at the end of the day, no one really gives a fuck what a band sings about as long as they have the songs to get the mosh pit going. Overkill more than deliver in that department on this album, or in fact on any album. And they have one of the coolest mascots ever in Chaly the skull bat thing!