I remember my first experience with Overkill when I was 16, back in 1986. I was shuffling through the vinyl at a record store and came across Taking Over. The cover was just to cool to not buy the album!
Incidentally, this is how we discovered music in the pre-Internet days. I used to spend hours in the record stores perusing for new metal. Anyway, I absolutely loved Taking Over, so I bought Feel the Fire and then every Overkill record since. They are one of my all-time favorites and have never made a bad album. They’ve never wavered from their thrashy sound, yet they continue to create exciting new albums consistently.
The Wings of War opens with “Last Man Standing,” which features Overkill doing what they do best! It’s an all-out thrash-fest cranked to 10. Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth with his trademark vocals brings it in spades again. “Believe in the Fight” incorporates a bit more melody, yet it still harnesses a ferocity that hearkens back to old Overkill. “Head of a Pin” is my favorite here. The riff-crazy verses build to a brutal, catchy chorus. New drummer Jason Bittner does a stand-out job with the fills and tempo of the song. The middle section actually has a Motorhead feel. “Bat Shit Crazy” is custom made for the stage. It’s fast with a chorus that every audience member can scream from the pit. “Distortion” slows things down a bit, yet it still retains a heaviness that is dark and ominous. “A Mother’s Prayer” comes at you like an out-of-control freight train, and the band hits on all cylinders here.
A few years back I was visiting with DD Verni and discussing the “party feel” of some of their songs. He described for me his love of the punk genre. “Welcome to the Garden State” is a raging example of this feel. It’s fun but blistering. “Out On The Road-Kill” is another old-school Overkill song that is nothing short of amazing. The pace is brutal and the song is so riff heavy, it leaves you tired after listening! “Hole In My Soul” takes the album out in grand fashion. Songs like this are why I classify this band as one of the “Big 6” of thrash and the top 4 are still debatable to me.
Overkill have a history of creating top-shelf thrash albums and every one of their albums stands on it’s own. The Wings Of War doesn’t break this tradition. In fact, it further cements these thrash masters in the annals of this genre.
The Wings of War is out February 22 on Nuclear Blast Records. Buy it here!