Overkill, "The Wings of War" Album Review
Overkill—"The Wings of War"
Nuclear Blast Records, 2019
Genre: Thrash Metal
11 tracks, 56:41
All hail Overkill, reliable as the tide! Like their spiritual godfathers in Motorhead and the Ramones, Overkill is a band that knows what their audience wants, and on their 19th (!) studio album, The Wings of War, they deliver it yet again. The Wings of War is another satisfying slab of their trademark no-frills, no-bullsh*t, four on the floor old school thrash metal, fresh brewed in the scenic swamps of New Jersey. These guys have been on a roll of late (their last couple of studio albums have actually cracked the Billboard charts) and the addition of new drummer Jason Bittner (formerly of Shadows Fall and Flotsam & Jetsam) has given them a shot in the arm. The Wings of War leaps from the speakers and attacks the listener from the very start, so you are left with two choices: jump aboard and hold on for dear life, or get the hell out of the way!
"Welcome to the Garden State"
The opening one-two punch of "Last Man Standing" and "Believe in the Fight" is the aural equivalent of a kid lighting an entire pack of firecrackers, tossing them into your lap, and then running away with a maniacal cackle. "Last Man Standing" opens with an ominous, thumping intro that explodes into a classic Overkill basher, complete with all-hell-breaks-loose drum abuse and walls of barbed-wire guitar shred from the ever-dependable team of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer. Bobby Blitz's trademark gravelly screech simply adds the cherry on top. This guy's got one of the most distinctive voices in metal and I swear he's actually gotten better with age. Respect!
The band lets up on the accelerator only slightly for "Head of a Pin," which charges along at a nicely bruising pace, then opens a fresh can of whoop-ass on the stomping "Batshitcrazy," which is bound to cause a mosh-pit frenzy if they add it to the live set. There's a brief, mellow Black Sabbath-y break in the middle of this one that even lets Blitz show off a halfway decent Ozzy impression. The opening of "Distortion" gives D.D. Verni's bass a chance to shine and when the chorus kicks in Blitz's voice is fed through some appropriately twisted vocal FX; the final product is "distorted" indeed!
The middling "A Mother's Prayer" leads into my favorite track on the album, "Welcome To The Garden State" -- an amped up Ramones-fueled ode to Overkill's home turf that had me laughing hysterically and throwing the horns to its references to the Jersey Devil, the Turnpike, and our majestic beaches covered in medical waste. The Misfits style "whoaaa-whoa-whoa" chant at the end even turns into a surprise nod to The Boss before it fades out! Someone get Governor Phil Murphy on the phone, I think we've got the new theme song for New Jersey's next tourism ad campaign right here.
"Where Few Dare To Walk" and "Out on the Road-Kill" keep the brutality meter pressed into the red, and the album proper closes out with "Hole in My Soul" (not to be confused with the similar sounding title "The Goal Is Your Soul," from 2009's Ironbound), before concluding with the bonus track "In Ashes," a cool mid tempo anthem that's sure to get the horns and fists raised.
Aaaaaand that's all, folks... at least until the next Overkill album!
"Last Man Standing"
Summing it up
As a fellow Garden State resident and longtime Overkill fanboy, I am pleased to report that they're still one of the most consistent thrash outfits in the Metal biz, and it does my Jersey heart good to see them continuing to crank out the good stuff as they approach their 35th year as a recording/touring act.
In short: Overkill RULES! Great work fellas. Here's to album #20 and beyond!
Limited Edition CD!
Overkill (EP) - Azra/Metalworks, 1984
Feel the Fire - Megaforce, 1985
Taking Over - Megaforce/Atlantic, 1987
!!!F**K YOU!!! - Megaforce/Caroline, 1987
Under the Influence - Megaforce/Atlantic, 1988
The Years of Decay - Megaforce/Atlantic, 1989
Horrorscope - Megaforce/Atlantic, 1991
I Hear Black - Atlantic, 1993
W.F.O. - Atlantic, 1994
Wrecking Your Neck (Live) - CMC International, 1995
The Killing Kind - CMC International, 1996
From The Underground and Below- CMC International, 1997
Necroshine - CMC International, 1999
Coverkill - CMC International, 1999
Bloodletting - Sanctuary/Metal-Is, 2000
Wrecking Everything Live - Spitfire, 2002
Killbox 13 - Spitfire, 2003
RelixIV - Spitfire, 2005
Immortalis - Bodog, 2007
Ironbound - eOne/Nuclear Blast, 2009
The Electric Age - eOne/Nuclear Blast, 2012
White Devil Armory - eOne/Nuclear Blast, 2014
The Grinding Wheel - Nuclear Blast, 2017
Live in Overhausen - Nuclear Blast, 2018
The Wings of War - Nuclear Blast, 2019
© 2019 Keith Abt