Next year will be the 40th anniversary for the existence of Overkill, preceding the ‘big four’ of thrash they never achieved quite the same recognition despite their lack of compromise. The Wings of War is their nineteenth full length album which is considerably more than those placed on their worthy pedestals. I must confess that I was never a huge fan, I guess they were one band too many for me to be able afford to purchase their outputs and as such I have not been following their career. I hold my hand aloft and admit embarrassment. Especially when I pressed play and felt such relief as the first track built. It’s almost a minute and half before the unmistakable vocals of Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth kick in and I immediately grinned. Much in the way as I did in reviewing Flotsam and Jetsam. Harking back to simpler times, where musical proficiency was key and you knew that you simply HAD to see this band live.
“We’ve never had an identity crisis,” says frontman Bobby Blitz, “but we still like raising an eyebrow from time to time!”
Last Man Standing opens the album and it means business with a slight update on their 80’s sound. Energetic and brutal with a repeated chant of fight we continue the theme with Believe In The Fight which manages to up the levels of aggression and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Incredibly catchy, groovy and relentless with wry humour and astonishing vocals, Head Of A Pin was released as the second single from the album and Blitz has said the following
“Head of a Pin” took a long time to come together, it is probably the tune that went through the most changes and the last one I finished. Looking back on it’s development, the time invested was all well worth it. The tonality of the guitar shines on it and the song goes ‘other places’, traditional with a touch of the down-low-dirty riff, and a sing-along chorus…personally, one of my favourites off The Wings of War.”
Bat Shit Crazy with its deep bass groove, pummelling percussion, key changes and ‘surprises’ is tremendous fun. Distortion and its opening classical style arpeggiation may be reminiscent of a popular track from a popular black album swiftly metamorphoses into a different beast in a slower paced headbanger of a track. A Mother’s Prayer ups the pace once more with NWOBHM vibes.
Welcome To The Garden State is a blitzkrieg of a thrash punk party monster ode to New Jersey quite unlike the Bon Jovi album
“It’s all about us. It’s the way we grew up as kids, it’s a certain attitude about the area, it’s responding to “we don’t do that where we’re from” with: “well guess what, you’re not where you’re from! You’re here, now!”
Where Few Dare To Walk despite its Eastern sounding harmonies, feels like the demonic hybrid of Sabbath and Priest (with a baptism by Pantera). Out On The Road-Kill is a feisty slab of very accessible thrash, while closer Hole In My Soul returns us to a fiercer domain with dare I say, hints of anthemic power metal.
Blitz and bassist D.D. Verni have remained constants in Overkill, with drummer Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall, ex-Flotsam and Jetsam) joining the cast from previous release The Grinding Wheel forming an incredibly coherent and tight unit.
The punk energy, thrash speed precision and Motorhead influences are still strong. Like a bat (skull) out of hell Overkill are back.
- Last Man Standing
- Believe In The Fight
- Head Of A Pin
- Bat Shit Crazy
- A Mother’s Prayer
- Welcome To The Garden State
- Where Few Dare To Walk
- Out On The Road-Kill
- Hole In My Soul
You can order ‘The Wings Of War’ now here
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