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While I prefer Wrecking Your Neck's performance for a number of reasons, it's lack of a video recording really shortchanged Cannavino and Gant's otherwise impressive swansong with the group. Overkill wisely held back another seven years before gracing us with a proper video/live DVD combo naturally titled Wrecking Everything. New recruits Tailer and Linsk do a commendable job delivering the more archaic material alongside the more modern, groovy numbers. So why does it fall short of it's predecessor?
For reasons beyond it's control, mainly. The biggest issue is the state of the band during this recording, as Killbox 13 had yet to be dropped and the more tepid, groovy albums like Bloodletting were still cementing themselves in the band's catalogue. As such, dead-on-arrival cuts like "Thunderhead" and "Battle" pull Wrecking Everything back down to Earth just as it begins to gain momentum. It's not that the band doesn't try to mix it up, as they make a concerted effort to inject seldom-heard numbers like "Shred" and "The Years of Decay" into the procession. It makes for a varied listen, even if it lacks some of the incendiary appeal present during Overkill's earlier live performances.
Regardless, the band falls face first right out of the gate with both "Necroshine" and "Thunderhead" serving as the opening numbers. The latter has a decent buildup, but is still way too long for it's own good and really begins to drain the energy out of the theatre prematurely. When "Wrecking Crew" finally comes around things begin to slide into their proverbial comfort zone...until it stops short. For some reason the band decided to include both "Wrecking Crew" and "Powersurge" as a medley, which completely guts the appeal of two of their most classic songs. Why? To fit in the childish "Long Time Dyin'"? Also, cutting short "Rotten to the Core" is a bastard move, even if it is quickly forgotten once "Elimination" rumbles through.
Wrecking Everything does go out on a high note, at least. Once you wade through the second septic pool of From the Underground and Below-The Killing Kind material you are treated to undisputed classics all the way through the final reverberation of distortion. The one-off performance of "Gasoline Dream" is my personal favorite rare inclusion here, with "Shred" being a close second. The performances are decent, even if Overkill's modern lineup can never even begin to touch Cannavino and Gant in pure stage presence. Since Linsk was still fairly new to the group, he at least makes a somewhat-conscious effort to move around and act like he is into it. Regardless, the man lacks stage presence, which in my eyes is an absolute requirement to be in Overkill. Tailer fares a bit better, but he prances around and does otherwise embarrassing shit that detracts from the rotten evil atmosphere of the material. Their flawless performances make this all much more forgivable, but it remains a detraction. Mallare plays at a slightly faster tempo than most of the album versions, but not fast enough to detract from their bruising appeal.
The bonus interviews with the members are a nice touch, especially since video footage of the band from the Bloodletting era is extremely hard to come by for some reason. The extra concert footage also proves that the band is at least trying to make Wrecking Everything worth your treasured greenbacks, even though it is nothing that I personally haven't seen before. Wrecking Everything has nearly all of the classics, silky production values, and a gaggle of bonus features filling two discs total. Much better than the live Wacken recording put out five years later, and still well worth your time.
Overkill's second live record was recorded in their native New Jersey turf, and featured a more compact set on one disc that was released alongside a DVD version. By this point the band had an entirely new pair of guitarists, Dave Linsk who had come aboard a few years prior, and Derek 'The Skull' Tailer, a more recent addition, so they've still got that extra rhythm guitar as with the previous live released in 1995. All told, the better selections here are superior in sound to Wrecking Your Neck Live, but that's also the catch: to get there, you've gotta ford a number of lame bounce metal tracks from some of the band's mediocre records, and the general quality of chosen material throughout the 13 cuts cycles back and forth between classic and nearly intolerable.
"Necroshine" (from the 1999 album of the same name) and "Thunderhead" (off Bloodletting) are a pretty poor choice to kick off this order, and to be honest with you they sound even more like lame examples of throwaway 90s groove metal in the live setting than their studio counterparts. Boasting some of the most uninteresting chord progressions in the band's entire catalog, which belong more to any random Machine Head/Pantera jump da fuc up bar band than the black and green, they hardly breed much anticipation for what follows. Thankfully, Blitz' presence is cutting and focused enough that you can, with some level of perseverance, make it nearer the middle of the disc where songs like "I Hate", "Shred" and "Deny the" fuckin' "Cross" await your attention. Hilarious to me that these oldies sound so much tighter and driven than the newer material here; it's almost like the band just knows those are the money shots, and are shoveling the crap out of the way just to push a few records they're actually touring on at the merchandise table.
Still, not all the classics get a great treatment here. "E.vil N.ever D.ies" seems a little limp, "In Union We Stand" a bit dry and repetitious despite the fans' love and involvement, and every time I listen to this I almost blank out by the time the eponymous closer "Overkill" arrives. There's another sequence of newer material with a few From the Underground and Below Tracks ("Long Time Dyin'", "It Lives") which has its moments, and the rare performance of "The Years of Decay" is not too shabby (if you like the original), but ultimately "Deny the Cross" and "Shred" destroy every other song on this several times over, even the rest of the oldies, and it makes me wonder if placing "Electro-Violence", "Rotten to the Core", "Wrecking Crew" and a handful of other goodies in the set in place of....fucking "Battle" or the lamentable "Necroshine" would not have improved it?
Despite my disdain at a few of the set choices, though, Wrecking Everything Live at least sounds decent. You get all of Blitz' great banter between the performances, and the guy sounds great singing. The backing vocals are pathetic, from the overbearing grunts to the flimsier single lines, but the bass is incredibly full sounding and the guitars juicy and thick, a double-edged sword as it makes some of the banal grooves on the newer tunes sound even more goofy. I'm just faced, once again, with the plain fact that my fallout of interest in Overkill throughout the 90s renders another of their live albums 'not really for me', while I'm sure some dude in a wifebeater and who crushes beer cans on his forehead while hailing W.F.O. and Necroshine as the greatest thrash albums of the 20th century will get his money's worth. You win some, you lose some, I just wish I hadn't bought the season pass.
From the very beginning, let me put it straight: this is awesome. A two-disc DVD set in a nice packaging containing almost four hours of Overkill. The first disc is the show at Asbury Park in its entirety (unlike its CD counterpart "Wrecking Everything - Live", which has only half of the songs the band played there), whereas the second disc is a brief excurse into the band's history with some rare footage from the 80-ies and a lot of behind-the-stage material. You'll cream your pants over this, I promise you. Now on to the show itself.
...And it captures the listener from the second minute of "Necroshine" (the first minute is an intro), when that monster riff kicks in. Great guitar tone, sharp, menacing and powerful, and fucking heavy without any downtuning. You can easily distinguish between the riffs, the solos are clearly audible. Good work. Sometimes the sound is even better than on studio efforts. The drums are thunderous and shattering, while being just loud enough to not wreck your ears and ruin the performance. Blitz' voice is in perfect form, he nails every single note, and I can't fucking count how many fucking times he fucking says fuck. It's fucking unbelievable. Got it, motherfucker? Finally, D.D. knows how to get 200% out of his bass guitar. It's clearly audible and it does add even more power and punch to the songs. Overall, tight playing and excellent musicianship. Unfortunately the venue is a seated one, so there's not much going on with the crowd. Probably that's why the camera work is good, but nothing really spectacular. And no, it isn't a low point, as it's far from being the key element here.
Did I mention the tracklist? It's nearly perfect. "I Hate", "Elimination", "Deny The Cross", "E.vil N.ever D.ies", "Powersurge", "Wrecking Crew", "Rotten To The Core"... Seriously, if it doesn't make you drool, you're probably a newcomer to Overkill. Back on the track: 14 out of 23 tracks are from the first five albums. The rest are from their later efforts, one song from each album (two from FTUAB and Bloodletting), with the exception of a guitar solo (sweet but unnecessary) and the grand finale, the climax, the closing epic monster that is "Fuck You / War Pigs". My only complaint is the absence of "Hammerhead", "Feel The Fire" and "Fatal If Swallowed". The second disc makes up for it, though. (And you've already got two hours of unstoppable headbanging. What else do you need?)
As mentioned before, it features a lot of backstage footage giving insight into the band. Basically it's the band's history in video, alternating between interviews and concerts, from the early days to what it has now become. An absolute must see for die-hard fans and newbies alike. Overall, it's quite a rare occasion when inclusion of a second disc is not only necessary, but also highly useful.
Bonus points for the cover art - it's totally old school, which automatically makes it awesome. And yeah, you guessed it right, it's Chaly on the cover. Not the modernized version of him seen on the Killbox 13 and ReliXIV, but an ancient one, sort of similar to a rotting head appearing on Repulsion's "Horrified". It captures the spirit of Overkill perfectly: it's old, it's filthy and it's rotten to the core! It kind of warns you: "We're gonna kick your ass!". Believe me, they are. Overkill's concert is one hell of a show. And the DVD serves as a testament to this.
In conclusion, this ain't no "Unleashed In The East" or "No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith", but nevertheless a great show put out by a great band. I strongly recommend it to any thrash fan. It's worth every single penny paid for it. Sooth to say, I think it's quite possibly one of the greatest metal DVDs ever released. Everything is good about it. If you've been meaning to explore the realm of thrash metal for a while, but don't know where to start, this is your choice. It conveys the spirit, mood and energy of the (sub)genre in a way none and nothing else can. So, to sum it up in a few words: do yourself a favour and get it. Buy it, steal it, do whatever you want... it doesn't matter. Just get it. NOW.
I actually saw Overkill live two days before they recorded this album. That was my 2nd time seeing the band, and I had always thought that they were the absolute best live band I've ever seen. Their first few live albums had done a decent job of capturing that sound, but somehow not quite as well as, say "Priest in the East" or "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith".
This is the album that gets it right. The production is absolutely impeccable - the mix a bit unusual, but very nicely done. The track selection is solid, though the DVD version does have Fuck You, among other things. Sorry, there goes 2 points right there. I love the official version, but I listen to the mp3s that I got ripped from the DVD more ;-) That one's got 23 tracks, which matches the setlist from when I saw them (except Feel the Fucken Fire and Hammerhead - I think they only played those two in Boston!), so that one I am guessing is complete (sort of, though the DVD also has Hello from the Gutter). Ah well, if you wanted the ultimate Overkill concert, it would be about 58 songs, at least.
Oh yeah, back to the album at hand. The official Overkill site has a sample (www.wreckingcrew.com) - it's "Evil Never Dies", and pretty much is a good representative of the whole album, so if you like that, you will definitely like the rest. Highlights: Deny the Cross (where did they pull that from???), Gasoline Dream (DVD only), Overkill, Bleed Me, oh the whole fucking thing.
Plain and simple, this is the best Overkill release yet. They join Slayer, Judas Priest, and others, in the big list of bands whose live albums are better than their studio efforts.