I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Overkill—"Live In Overhausen"
Nuclear Blast Records, 2018
Disc 1 ("Horrorscope" live): 11 tracks, 59.33
Disc 2 ("Feel The Fire" live): 10 tracks, 51:26
DVD/Blu-Ray Video run time: 2:11:50
"Ride High! Ride Tall! Overkill Will Never Fall!"
If you've ever witnessed an Overkill concert, you know what an absolutely crushing live experience they can be. The New Jersey metal legends are rapidly approaching their 35th anniversary as a recording and touring act and, amazingly, their blue collar, working-class brand of thrash metal actually seems to be getting better with age!
In 2016, Overkill celebrated two unique career milestones—it had been 30 years since they played their first-ever gigs overseas on a tour of Germany, supporting their debut album Feel The Fire (which had been released a year earlier). That epic tour with Anthrax and Agent Steel was later immortalized on 1986's Metal Hammer Roadshow Vol. 1 home video. 2016 was also the 25th anniversary of the release of Horrorscope, which is still the band's best selling album to date. To commemorate both of these occasions, Overkill returned to Deutschland for an extra special show at the "Turbinenhalle 2" concert hall in Oberhausen (which, naturally, was re-christened "OVER-hausen" for the evening), where they performed the Feel The Fire and Horrorscope albums in their entirety. Damn, I would've given my left nut to see that show. Europe gets all the good stuff (kicks rock)!
Fortunately, they made sure to record this once-in-a-lifetime gig for posterity, and now those of us who weren't lucky enough to attend in person can experience it in the comfort of our own homes thanks to Live In Overhausen, the new, lavishly packaged live album that successfully captures all of the madness of that very special night!
Live In Overhausen consists of three discs - 2 CDs (one of each album performance) and a DVD (or Blu-Ray) video of the entire show. Whichever format you choose to enjoy, you'll get two hours of top notch Over-mayhem, taped in front of a sizable and suitably rabid crowd. As always, vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth's good-natured, foul-mouthed banter with the audience between songs is worth the price of admission all by itself ("Hey, Ma! I'm in Oberhausen with about 1500 really good f***in' friends!"), especially when he tries to speak to them in half-assed basic German. Bobby sounds like he's having a blast, and the rest of the band is tight and crushingly heavy as ever. Overkill's current guitar team of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer weren't even in the band when Feel The Fire and Horrorscope were recorded back in the day, but their performances here are frenzied, energetic and respectful to the original recordings. Live In Overhausen also features an impressive turn by fill-in drummer Eddy Garcia, who was promoted from drum tech/roadie when regular drummer Ron Lipnicki suddenly stepped down. This guy had to learn two albums' worth of material on what was apparently very short notice, but you wouldn't know it from his performance here - the guy crushes it and sounds as if he's been in the band for years. Respect, Eddy!
Overkill blasts through the entire Horrorscope album on disc 1, and the German crowd goes suitably bonkers for classic tracks like "Coma," "Thanx For Nothin'" and "New Machine." Blitz's impassioned performance on the doomy album-closing ballad "Soulitude" is one of the highlights of the entire show. The energy level stays high throughout the Feel The Fire performance on Disc 2. The short-but-sweet punk-fueled thrashers like "Rotten To The Core," "Hammerhead," and of course "Overkill" are enthusiastically received. The band even gives the German crowd a "bonus track" by ending the set with their customary rip through the D.O.A./Subhumans classic "F**k You" -- which isn't on Feel The Fire, but it just wouldn't be a proper Overkill show if they didn't play that one.
"Hammerhead" from "Feel The Fire"
The video portion of Live in Overhausen is a great watch as well. This pro-shot, multi-camera production frequently jumps from the stage to the audience so viewers will feel like they're right in the middle of that head-banging crowd, covered in sweat and spilled beer, singing and moshing along. As usual, Overkill's staging is simple and to the point - there are no explosions, video screens or other gimmicks, just a backdrop of their logo and their skull-faced mascot, "Chaly" - but their frenzied light show is impressively flashy and sinister, bathing the stage in plenty of bloody reds, midnight blues and graveyard greens to give the proceedings that trademark eerie, horror-movie vibe. The video takes breaks in between songs for commentary about the gig and Overkill's long history from the band members themselves, as well as long time friends and associates like radio/TV personality Eddie Trunk and Thomas Kupfer of Germany's Rock Hard magazine (one of the evening's sponsors). There are even some short clips from back in the day showing the young band in the studio during the recording of Horrorscope. (Marvel at the sight of D.D. Verni's massive, frizzy, mop of early '90s hair!)
"Thanx For Nothin'" from "Horrorscope"
"Midnight, Dark Sky... Overkill Will Never Die!"
Live In Overhausen is Overkill's third live album, and it may be their best one yet. Even if you already own their previous Wrecking Your Neck (1995) or Wrecking Everything (2002) concert discs, this is a worthy purchase. Overkill is still one of the most dependable, consistent bands in the thrash field, and on Live In Overhausen they're taking a well deserved victory lap and bringing us all along for the ride.
© 2018 Keith Abt