Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Electric Age Dawns in Columbus

Venue: Screamin' Willies
Date: April 23, 2012

Thrash metal titans Overkill charged into Ohio’s capital city firing on all cylinders in support of their new opus “The Electric Age.” Overkill scorched an unrelenting 90 minute set full of some classics and some recent cookers to whet the appetites of those in attendance.

The set started with the first track from the new album in “Come and Get It” and the crowd responded favorably followed by “Bring Me the Night” which sounded fiercer in the live setting than it did in the studio. However, when the ‘Kill belted out “Elimination”; it whipped the crowed into a frenzy.

Even though his voice has been wrecking necks for nearly 30 years, vocalist Bobby Blitz still retains his whisky fueled pipes sounded great. He greeted the crowd by stating that we smelled bad, but we looked good. I must also add to that I liked that during the solos of the songs, he would crouch in the corner and then coming running back out when it was time to sing again.

The band ripped into “Electric Rattlesnake” which came off really well live and the middle part where the song slows down a bit was awesome. Guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer were tearing it up and were on target. They played “Save Yourself” from the new album as well and I thought that track was not that good, but found the extra intensity live more enjoyable.

The 90s catalogue was not left out either as they pulled out a couple groovier tracks in “Gasoline Dream” and “Necroshine.” I have never been that big fan of the latter or the album itself, but the way the stage lit up when Blitz did the short screams was awesome as the lights flashed quickly which it seem like Blitz was bursting out of the dark.

“Old School” received great crowd support and sing along opportunities and then “Wrecking Crew” almost turned into a wreck as Ron Lipnicki was bashing the drums like there was no tomorrow and he knocked over one of his cymbals.

Bassist D.D Verni may be greying around the edges a bit, but he still performs with the vigor and energy required at a thrash show. It was done successfully because someone was carried out of the club for reckless behavior. Overkill rounded out the performance with “Deny the Cross”, arguably their best song ever “Rotten to the Core” and the classy “Fuck You.”

One minor complaint I have is they did not play anything from “Horrorscope.” Other than that, it was a great show, full of energy and intensity. There is no room for fancy guitar solos, or elongated drum mashing as Overkill kicked ass from beginning until the end. After all these years, they still got it and will deliver a spark with “The Electric Age.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

March to Stalingrad

After Accept regrouped and finally realized their longtime vocalist Udo Dirkschneider was not coming back, they enlisted vocalist Mark Tornillo from little known eighties band T.T Quick. Tornillo’s ruff and gruff attitude and vocal style combined with Wolf Hoffman’s meaty guitar riffs rounded out an impressive comeback album talking about nations’ bloodied histories. The German heavy metal stalwarts have now focused their efforts on a single nation and put a stamp on the city named by the tyrant in honor of himself, Stalingrad.

The first salvo, “Hung, Drawn, and Quartered” starts the proceedings off with a bang with a great guitar intro followed by an aggressive riff. The boys pick up where “Blood of the Nations” left off with a strong, thick guitar tone and Tornillo sounds more aggressive in his vocal delivery. He even has some resemblance to the little man with the mighty voice who preceded him. The chorus in the up-tempo “Flash to Bang Time” and “The Quick and the Dead” showcase the Udo-side of Tornillo.

Hoffman is one the most underrated guitar players to wield the axe. The riffs he writes and the melodic solos he delivers are some of the best one could write. The solo in the title track sounds like the red army taking its march to its national anthem and the outro to “The Galley” provides some serenity to a furious album. He comes back with a biting riff in “Hellfire” which has stuck with since first giving it a listen. This is definitely one of the highlights of the album.

The best song is the fist-pumping “Shadow Soldiers.” It has a great, prideful riff and an inspiring vocal performance by Tornillo. The chorus is remarkable and I can see this going over very well in the live setting. The aforementioned “The Quick and the Dead” has a riff similar to Motley Crue’s “Livewire”, but it works and the drum performance by Stefan Schwarzmann is a highlight.

All the tracks flow at a steady pace, but the only ones that failed to grab me are the drab “Against the World” and “Twist of Fate.” The former is basically a standard metal cooker, but there is nothing of note that stands out. The latter is a slow burner which features some nice bass work courtesy of Peter Baltes, but it never reaches its full potential as it tries to strike an emotional chord, but it doesn’t happen.

When it’s all said and done, you cannot go wrong with this album. If you liked “Blood of the Nations”; then this will not disappoint and it does not overstay its welcome as the last one clocked in at long time while “Stalingrad” finishes at just under an hour. The German boys have hit their stride since regrouping with Tornillo as any listener will have no problem head-banging through the streets of Stalingrad.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Age Has Begun

Overkill is back and they must have felt a jolt in their system. The New Jersey boys now have 17 albums under their belt and they sound better than ever. It was going to be tough to top their last output in “Ironbound”, but they have found a way to meet expectations.

The two main men, vocalist Bobby Blitz and bassist D.D Verni have cooked up ten monsters that doesn’t let up until after the last note is played. “Come and Get It” storms through with crushing riffs and a shredding solo from Dave Linsk. The first single in “Electric Rattlesnake” has some Black Sabbath moments and the ascending rhythm part with a slicing bass and pumping drums near the end combined with the final solo is memorable and drives a great song.

The production is again outstanding on this album. Overkill has, with a couple exceptions, always brought the best sound out of their instruments from “The Years of Decay” to “The Killing Kind” to “Ironbound.” The drums by Ron Lipnicki and the riffing by Derek Tailer are in your face just as they were on “Ironbound.” The top-notch production puts other heavyweights such as Slayer and Metallica to shame.

The thrashing continues with “Drop the Hammer Down” which would make the mighty Thor proud. It features a nice melodic solo and Blitz delivers an awesome chorus as if he’s about to bring the pain with his weapon. The verse also has a beautiful transition to that chorus and another one of the standouts. “All Over but The Shouting” has a title that wouldn’t look strange on a Cannibal Corpse album. The backing guitar theatrics with Blitz delivering the narrative is a nice touch.

However, there are a couple instances where the songwriting is not as strong. “Save Yourself” is a generic thrasher with not much going for it. The riff is bland and it fails to develop into something great. The other track that does not deliver is “Old Wounds, New Scars.” The song is homage to their New Jersey background, but the chorus is awkward and when it seems like the song is going to pick-up steam, it doesn’t.

With that being said, “The Electric Age” is a winner. Even though his voice has been through a lot, Blitz’s vocals are as charismatic as ever and Verni is still delivering bass lines that make him one of the best in the business. The fellas have really hit their stride after the disappointment that was “Immortalis” back in 2007. Blitz ends the proceedings in a fitting way uttering “Good night.” Thank you Blitz and the rest of the ‘Kill; I will have a good night’s rest after taking in the shock of “The Electric Age.”