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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Overkill

Ironbound

Review by Mike Korn

Overkill sure doesn't have anything left to prove to the metal world. With sixteen rip-roaring albums of pure blazing heaviness under their belts and literally millions of mile of road behind them, they should be able to navigate on cruise control. Yet on album #16 Ironbound, Overkill sounds like they are brand new at the scene and chomping at the bit to let people know they are the real deal. This is the kind of album you're supposed to put out when you're young, brash and full of fire.

And I'm mighty glad of it! The quality level has been remarkably consistent from these Jersey boys over the years but there's no denying Ironbound has more of a thrashy bite than anything they've done in the last ten years. That’s not to say that the release is thrash only...these guys are too versatile for that. There's plenty of good solid groove and moody atmosphere also on show. The mix from Hypocrisy's Peter Tagtgren is dry and well-balanced, which has not always been the case in the past. If you're a long time Overkill fan, you're going to really enjoy this. If you're not, well, you soon will be!


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Green and Black

Starting off eerie and subdued with trademark deep bass from D.D. Verni, this soon heavies up and goes to the races with a fast and rather complex track that covers a lot of tempos. It’s good to hear Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth sounding just as predatory as ever, unleashing some high pitched screams.

Ironbound
The tone of this track takes me back to classic early Overkill such as "Fatal If Swallowed" and "Rotten To the Corps". Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, this is pedal to the metal all the way. I love the "one by one, two by two" vocal riff.  Drummer Ron Lipnicki proves his worth with a brutal display of skinsmanship. "All my friends are green and black/All my friends are right/All my friends are automatic/They all rule the night". Even with the moody mellow break in the middle, this is a new Overkill thrash classic!
Bring Me The Night
They keep the energy going with this speedy blitzer. The main riff sounds like a juiced-up Judas Priest but the whole song oozes Overkill's unique vibe. Blitz is just an amazing vocalist - maybe not in terms of range, but in how he can find just the right cadence and rhythm in the words to amp up the music. There's also great tasty lead work from Dave Linsk, definitely one of the most underrated in the biz.
The Goal Is Your Soul
Here at last we have a tune that's a bit slower and moodier. That’s not to say it isn't heavy, because it thumps along with a crunchy chug once it gets into gear. There's a lot of gang shouting on the chorus to help move things along and an ominous mid-section where a riff sounds like it came from Metallica's "The Call of Cthulhu". This is the band in their dark and groovy mode.
Give A Little
This is one of my favorites. The opening riff is so cool with that curly little "sting" at the end. The chorus is just awesome, with a call-and-respond between Ellsworth and the rest of the band. Just a real heavy, catchy metal track with genuine anger to it. "Give a little dominance/take a little soul/Try a new experience/Doing what you're told."
Endless War
Another skull-smasher harkening back to the early days, this is pretty reminiscent of past triumphs but when the quality is this high, I can live with the deja vu. Ron Lipnicki's drumming is like a Luftwaffe barrage during an Axis air raid.
The Head and The Heart
Here's the album's wild card. Starting as a relaxing ballad, it soon develops a driving metal beat. The real difference is the gruff, croaking vocals that alternate with Blitz's more normal nasal tones. I’m not sure if that's him doing the gruff stuff, but it's very atypical if it is...and I like it! Although this isn't the fastest cut, it might just be the catchiest and I really dig it! 
In Vain
The last three tunes are all balls to the wall thrashers, starting with this evil screamer. Boy, if this one doesn't get you sweating, you better check to see if you have a pulse. It's an archetypal Overkill song with Verni's pulsing bass sound, a singalong groove-a-thon in the middle and a killer guitar solo.
Killing For A Living
More thrash metal is on tap here, with an odd spoken vocal approach on the verses. There is a bit of a generic feel to this yet the genuine energy behind it keeps it from being a throwaway cut. There's a real "rock and roll" groove in the middle that allows Ellsworth to use a bluesier singing style.
The SRC
In recent years, some have accused Overkill of losing touch with their thrash roots. If the previous tracks on Ironbound didn't totally erase those doubts (and they certainly should have), this will obliterate them. This is as fast and bloodthirsty as anything they've done. "SRC" stands for "Subterranean Resistance Cult" and that's exactly what Overkill has been for over 25 years.
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