OVERKILL – The Wings of War

OVERKILL - The Wings of War
  • 8.9/10
    OVERKILL - The Wings of War - 8.9/10


Label: Nuclear Blast
Release date: February 22, 2019

User Review
8/10 (3 votes)

It’s easily noticed that the legendary Thrash Metal bands that have been ruling the global Metal scene for decades release their albums way less frequently than they did years ago. For instance, Metallica’s long-awaited Hardwired… To Self-Destruct came out in 2016, which is eight years after their previous release. In the case of Slayer, the gap between their two most recent albums is a bit smaller (six years), but that’s still quite a long time to wait. Back in the day, Thrash Metal bands would release an album every two-three years on average. Of course, the gods of Thrash are no longer the crazy booze-and-coke-driven boys in their 20s that can play a two-hour gig, then party all night and then maybe record a new album if need be. But one of those bands does not seem to be affected by the years going by in any way. It’s the year 2019 and their 19th record, which is also the 5th one within this decade, has just come out. Here’s Overkill and their freshly released album titled The Wings Of War.

The way it starts might be a bit of a surprise. One could think “Have the guys at Rammstein decided to go all heavy?” But before the first minute passes, the full thrash attack begins. There is speed, there is heaviness, there is aggression in here. But the riffs could do with a bit more catchiness to them. Something that makes the listener want to bang their head like crazy wherever they are. But on the other hand, Dave Linsk’s solo in this song is certainly one of the best on the album.

The following composition, “Believe In The Fight,” is probably the least impressive one The Wings Of War has to offer. Despite its dynamics and variety of riffs, it just lacks the substance that makes songs amazing. But, from the third composition onwards, the songs get better and better. They have that groove that makes people move. There are some tracks here that sound a fair bit like the songs from the band’s older records. “Where Few Dare To Walk” or “Distortion” wouldn’t have sounded out of place if they were included on The Years Of Decay or Horrorscope.

It’s interesting how there is one thing the songs that are most likely to become Thrash Metal earworms have in common – it’s having at least one bit where what can be regarded as Overkill’s trademark can be heard. That trademark is D.D. Verni’s utterly sinister and evil bass sound that no other bassist could ever duplicate. Examples include “Hole In My Soul,” being the final composition, and the seventh track titled “Welcome To The Garden State.” Garden State is the nickname of the state of New Jersey where the band is from. Considering how East Coast Thrash Metal is generally very raw and much more Punk-influenced than what the vast majority of the Bay Area bands have to offer, it’s probably one of the most interesting Thrash (or maybe Thrash Punk is a better way of putting it?) songs to be written in this century. Because what else can be said about a song that is a tribute to the band’s home state and the music genre that has influenced their creative output so significantly?

So, despite the first two songs being quite bland and maybe slightly oversaturated with general heaviness, The Wings Of War is a really good album. On the other hand, the band’s previous record, The Grinding Wheel, which was released in 2017, has an opening track that lays waste so efficiently that hardly any opener on any Thrash Metal album can compare to it. So if anyone is expecting the next “Mean Green Killing Machine” as the first song, they may be slightly disappointed. But they should not be given the overall sound of The Wings of War. The Wrecking Crew has not lost any of their unique sounds. Blitz still sounds the way he did twenty years ago and D.D. Verni’s bass lines are never stale. Adding some of the new songs to the set list will certainly put the band’s shows on a yet higher level of Metal awesomeness. Especially “The Garden State” which can easily become one of the highlights of the gigs, alongside “Elimination,” “Hello From The Gutter” and “Rotten To The Core.”

It has been almost forty years since Overkill was formed back in 1980 and they do not seem to lose any of their momenta. They have been through multiple lineup changes with Blitz and D.D. Verni being the sole constant members; The Wings of War is the first studio album to feature drummer Jason Bittner, who has been in the band since 2017. They have been releasing new records at a constant frequency since 1985 when their debut LP Feel The Fire saw daylight. They still put on amazing shows and they don’t need lasers, flames or giant screens in the background to do so. They just put in all of their heart and soul into their performances and that can be seen and heard. After all, part of the chorus of their self-titled song from their debut album explains it perfectly: “Midnight, dark sky, Overkill will never die!”


  • Miłosz Mikołaj Nizioł

    Miłosz is a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He was born somewhere in Europe and now lives elsewhere in Europe. Miłosz is a writer and it has always been his passion. Aside from that, Miłosz is also a bass player - back in his UK days he played in various bands, some of which made it to have their place in the history of Metal; this includes an English high speed Thrash Metal act Rager that got mentioned in Contract in Blood: A History Of UK Thrash Metal (Glasper, I., 2018).   When enjoying live music as a member of the audience, Milosz never says no to circle pits and a good wall of death. Besides Metal, Milosz has a very wide range of interests that don't need to be specified here since they're not about Metal. One of them can be, actually: Milosz LOVES coming up with parodies of various songs lyrics.   Milosz's Top 25 bands (in the following order) are: The Beatles Deep Purple & Black Sabbath Queen ]v[ E G A D E T ]-[ (until 24.05.2021, but still) Judas Priest Iron Maiden (first three albums mostly) Twisted Sister Mötley Crüe KISS (preferably with Ace and Peter) Exodus Overkill Pantera Rainbow (and DIO of course) Savatage Running Wild Testament Pink Floyd ABBA Red Hot Chili Peppers Death Dire Straits Alestorm Motörhead

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