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Piss and vinegar and posturing - 79%

MacMoney, August 2nd, 2010

For some reason after Bobby Gustafson's departure, Overkill's guitarists have come and gone in pairs. First it was Connovino and Grant. They left just prior to the recording of this particular release and were replaced by Sebastian Marino and Joe Comeau, the latter having also been a vocalist in his previous band, Liege Lord and would perform a lot of backing vocals in Overkill. He would also later leave the band to pick up a singing job in Annihilator. The change in guitarists doesn't really have an influence on the music though since it is Blitz and Verni who are writing it. With the two albums preceeding this being reviled - as far as Overkill goes - for their Panteraish groove influences and the following album, From the Underground And Below, suffering the same fate, it is no wonder that the same groove-influence is by and large present on The Killing Kind as well. A lot of the songs rely on a small amount of slow and simplistic riffs being repeated often as the driving force. It stands in fairly stark contrast to the speedier, riffier style that the band utilized on their 80s albums.

The worst offenders of this kind are the C-section of The Cleansing, the whole of Bold Face Pagan Stomp and Cold, Hard Fact, but the thing is: Overkill makes it work. As simplistic as the verse riff of Battle is, or how groovy and fitting Bold Faced Pagan Stomp would be for Pantera, it doesn't matter because Overkill have made it work for them. The aforementioned riff of Battle is just one note repeated in staccato in rhythmic manner and then stopped at the half time of the bar for the one-two notes of the bass to take over and later on the guitar riff changes so for the last half of the bar it follows the bass. It's slight changes and little bits and pieces in the structures of the songs that gives The Killing Kind its own flair. Battle also has the ever-changing vocals of Blitz on the short bridge-part, God-Like has the effectized roar in the beginning of the last chorus - a very small thing, but oh so damn effective - while Certifiable has the "Motherfucker!" in the middle of the C-section of the song.

What also works in the album's favor is the sheer amount of aggression the band has managed to pour into it. Though in light of what the band has done before it is no surprise. Overkill has done this kind of viciousness before with songs like Feel the Fire, Elimination and I Hate. Most of the credit goes to Blitz and his vehement vocal delivery. Like he could convince the listeners of The Years of Decay that he and the band actually hated them, the fans themselves, he can convince the listeners now that he is about to explode from the frustration in the previously noted "Motherfucker!" part in Certifiable or that during Let Me Shut That for You, he will do exactly that if the listener doesn't keep his yap closed. The album relies a whole lot on the attitude Blitz portrays with his vocals and lyrics. There's an embarrassing amount of posturing present in the lyrics and they're not the best the band has produced even if it fits the aggressive, grooveish sound on the album. Cold, Hard Fact and Bold Faced Pagan Stomp are the main culprits in this territory, with a lot of gang vocals and shouting between parts of songs that almost sound like Blitz came up with them on the spot. But if not given much thought and taken in stride - as a part of what Overkill were at the time - Blitz's convincing snarl makes it all sound credible.

This brings up another point on the album; the two songs that don't fit. First off there's the ballad, The Mourning After/Private Bleeding. A proper ballad with a piano and all that transforms into a power version when the guitars and drums kick in; altogether a song that is totally out of place on an album like The Killing Kind. Blitz's vocals might've worked on ballad-style songs ten years prior to the recording of this album when he still had a clean voice worth something, but at this point he just has his screech. The song has a couple of good melodies - one for the guitar and one for the vocals, both appearing at the same point - but it's for a short time so there's no saving it. The song also features probably the best solo on the album, but these measely things are its sole merits and they are very much undermined by its distinct flaws. The other song that's sticks out from the rest of the album is Burn You Down/To Ashes which is the Playing with Spiders/Skullcrusher of this album, in other words a lengthy, slow, oppressive and doomy song that is constantly evolving even though Burn You Down/To Ashes isn't given the time to develop itself into the massive and intense crusher that was its predecessor. The band seems to be in a rush to get to the faster parts again so the listener doesn't get bored; there's about a minute and a half of groovy, mid-paced thrashing near the end of it. While not being a classic like Playing with Spiders/SKullcrusher, it's an effective song that fittingly divides the album's thrashier pieces from the groovier pieces so while the ballad doesn't in any earn a place on The Killing Kind, Burn You Down/To Ashes does.

All in all, The Killing Kind features a surprisingly small amount of full blown groove. It mostly comes up as an influence on the slower thrash moments and of course, the aforementioned Bold Faced Pagan Stomp which does stick out quite a bit. But as mentioned before, this is not a bad thing as Overkill do good by people. It is evident that it is not the same kind of 80s-based thrash as Taking Over or Under the Influence, but it is doubtful anyone expected that with I Hear Black and W.F.O. coming out before this one.