Overkill is Thrash Metal. These guys live it and breathe it, and the band has become synonymous with the most aggressive and powerful brand of Thrash in history. No one can question the integrity and value they possess. Their sixteenth studio album, The Electric Age, is yet another example of Overkill’s relentless and unwavering pursuit to create the most brutal Thrash around. These guys continue to get older, and their look becomes more of road weary laborers instead of fiery young musicians. But, make no mistake, these are true battle-scarred veterans and can make any one of their younger contemporaries bow down with envy.
Fresh off their highly-acclaimed 2010 release, Ironbound, the band had a lot of expectations. It seemed they put so much effort and energy into making Ironbound an anomaly of sorts, there might not be much left in the proverbial tank. It becomes clear from the first track that The Electric Age does not quite have the same tenacity and magic that made Ironbound so special. However, they still follow the same formula of reaching back in time to re-use themes that made them successful earlier in their career.
Original vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s distinct high-pitched voice sounds fresh and inviting, and once again uses the more intense higher end of his vocal register to dominate this album, which is something that Ellsworth strayed from in the early 2000’s releases, and has since caused a resurgence of the “Old School” Overkill sound. Additionally, the guitar shredding of the now long-time members Derek “The Skull” Tailer and Dave Linsk is confident and vibrant. The riffs are not drawn out and dull -- there is a considerable amount of energy that once again pushes the grand “Old School” themes.
One of the things which made Ironbound such a success was simply the dynamism of the compositions. Overkill has always used a trademark signature of using “mini-themes” within a song, whether it is for a few quick seconds or drawn out, those little twists and intricacies within their songs give each track a little extra spice. Those elements are missing from The Electric Age, as the compositions are generally more straight-forward and consistently up-tempo. There is more of an aggressive “Punk” theme underlying many of the tracks, and that pushes the tracks forward from a Thrash standpoint, but leaves the dynamic element somewhat lacking.
One of the standout tracks on the album is “All Over But The Shouting”. Initially it starts out with a similar fiery, Punk-laden Thrash riff and doesn’t quite differentiate itself. However, as it continues on a great infectious chorus emerges, and other dynamic aspects surface when Overkill changes themes multiple times. Blitz does a phenomenal job of putting a considerable amount of emotion into the vocals on this track.
Although The Electric Age may not be Overkill’s finest hour, it still proves they will always be one of the hardest working bands in Metal. Even when they present an “average” album such as this, relatively speaking, it still exemplifies how influential Overkill has become. Thrash Metal is Overkill.
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Nuclear Blast Records