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Vague elaborations on overt inspirations - 60%

autothrall, July 16th, 2012

Complete cover albums like this one always run the risk of coming across as more of a tribute to the band's own open mindedness than the bands they cover, and by this I mean they'll usually keep the revisions as close to the original works as possible. In the case of Overkill, the 'cleverly' titled Coverkill goes a little beyond this, making the songs feel more or less like they belong in your average set tucked in between an "Elimination" or "Wrecking Crew". In other words, the selections made for this album feel natural to the band, and won't surprise anyone who followed them through their career, but they don't often deviate from the sources beyond the distinct delivery of Bobby Blitz.

This is especially the case for the numerous punk tributes here, like "No Feelings" (Sex Pistols), "I'm Against It" (Ramones) and "Ain't Nothin' to Do" (Dead Boys), which are dowsed in more muscular guitars than their originals, meatier thrash muting, but in translation lose a lot of their uniqueness and character in this polished and metalized state. The actual metal cuts the band visits are better, because they were simply superior songs to begin with. Obviously they took on the Motörhead tune from which they derived their band's name, and do a fair job by it (as the album intro), but I thought the rendition of "Tyrant" Judas Priest was appreciably wild, Blitz one of the few singers period with enough of a unique personality to stand in Halford's shadow. The inclusion of "Death Tone" by Manowar, was more unexpected, and fun due to the nasty slice of the vocals in the chorus.

Black Sabbath is given a hat trick treatment, no surprise since the UK doom gods have been a direct and overwhelming influence on a number of Overkill's past experiments, but to their credit, they varied up the choices so you have the slower doom of "Cornucopia" with a broad, raw guitar tone; the more uplifting 'eavy metal escalation of "Never Say Die", with an atmospheric performance from Blitz, and the softer rock and roll of "Changes", which I found the least impressive of this lot. Probably the most impressive cover on the whole album is Jethro Tull's "Hymn 43", which becomes a mighty, wonderfully produced, groove force of nature in the New Yorkers' hands, and if only the rest of the track list was performed at this level I'd have liked it much more. Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'" is also pretty sweet.

Nothing feels out of place here, so don't expect one of the more eclectic selections of this sort, with pop, dance or disco tunes transformed into metallic oddities (I'm lookin' at you, Helloween). Coverkill is consistent, safe and workmanlike, drawing largely from the spectrum you'd predict. Only a few of the tunes are brought up to a level of heaviness equivocal to their better originals (Motörhead in particular), but I'm not going to lie: this was a more entertaining use of my time than their mediocre new studio album, Necroshine which was also put out the same year. These covers feel like a more convincing, inspired kick in the ass, even if the mix is slightly more varied and less focused. Not a mandatory purchase by any means, but if you see it in a bargain bin for a few bucks it might earn a few spins on a road trip.


Killer Covers - 86%

MEGANICK89, January 12th, 2012

Overkill has always exuded the “take no prisoners” perspective in their music with back-breaking thrash and excellent vocals brought to you by Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. It should be no surprise then when doing covers of some their favorite songs; they bring in the Overkill juice to spice up tracks some hold near and dear to them.

They perfectly capture the energy of the KISS track “Deuce” by letting the riff do the talking, but they sped up the tempo for a more thrash spirit. Blitz spits out the fury that Gene Simmons brought to one of KISS’s staples songs. I’m sure the Demon would be pleased with the quality put forth by the ‘Kill.

The same approach is done with “Space Truckin’.” The distorted guitars rattle off a thrashed up version of the Deep Purple classic. The drums were simplified because stick man Ian Paice is hard to match, but Tim Mallare lays a solid effort and makes it more in the Overkill style. It is also amusing hearing Blitz’s aggressive vocals go on about the wonders of space travel.

There is a host of Black Sabbath covers as they were an essential influence to Overkill, but then again, Black Sabbath is just about inspirational to every metal band. The best one is the amped up version of “Never Say Die” and guitarist Dave Linsk delivers the perfect solo as found in the original and a new energy is brought with a heavier mark on the guitars and drums. By far the most interesting and different is the cover of “Changes.” The ballad does not have quite have the somber tone, but Blitz’s clean vocals are striking and one of the best vocal performances he has registered. The last and least impressive is “Cornucopia” as the beauty of Tony Iommi’s guitar magic is blown up on this one as this Sabbath tune does not fit the Overkill style.

The cover that left the biggest impression was the Judas Priest cover of “Tyrant.” It sounds like a brand new song as Blitz delivers a gritty, aggressive vocal that accompanies bombast of instrumentation from the rest of the band. The only negative is that the production is muddled. However, the song is presented as if Overkill wrote it. If one wants the clean and high registers of Rob Halford, then opt for the Priest, but if one is in the mood for a raw energy and aggression, then go for the ‘Kill.

Overkill has also been influenced by a number of punk bands and those inspirations are brought to life with covers of some of those bands. I have a never been fan of The Ramones, Sex Pistols, or The Dead Boys, but I realize their importance and can appreciate what they have done. With that said, the attitude in the vocals and making tracks like “No Feelings”, “I’m Against it”, and “Ain’t Nothin’ to Do” thrash tracks are a fun listen. These songs show why they were huge for a developing band and how Overkill’s brand of thrash was influenced by them.

This is one of the better cover albums anyone is going to cross. Instead of doing faithful reinterpretations of classic songs; Overkill decided to do the songs as if they wrote them. The approach is rather successful and if do not sound as good; the effort can surely be appreciated. The vocal performance by Blitz is worth the listen alone. Be sure to check out “Deuce”, “Space Truckin’”, and “Tyrant” for solid doses and go on to “Changes” and “Never Say Die” if you crave for more. After giving this a listen, it is now known that Overkill definitely has all their bases…”covered.”