2019 is already shaping up to be one kickass year for Thrash Metal. Why, you ask? Because the Gods of Thrash themselves, OVERKILL are dropping a brand new record on our heads very soon. The Wings of War comes out February 22 through Nuclear Blast Records, and your humble Maestro couldn’t be happier with the results! This beast has been in my possession for quite some time now and has been getting nonstop play at A&GS HQ and work. Vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth sounds like a man much younger and his trademark fiery intensity is there on each and every track. New drummer Jason Bittner matches that fire stride for stride and his presence has definitely added some swagger as well as a heaping dose of piss and vinegar.
A long-standing tradition with OVERKILL records is the take-no-prisoners attitude of the opening track, and “Last Man Standing” is no exception. About the song Blitz says, “We never politely knock on the door, we’re all about kicking it in.” I can’t argue that, especially with this one. Next tune “Believe In the Fight” knocks said door off the hinges and boasts one of the most anthemic choruses on the disc. I can only imagine the circle pits when the guys bust this one out live on the upcoming tour. The riff lords Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk mete out the punishment while bassist D.D. Verni dishes out bass lines that sound like a prisoner receiving 50 lashes. Bittner absolutely owns on this song, and there are some timely tempo changes, too.
“Head of a Pin” employs varying grooves, going from a gallop on the verses to a more mid-tempo feel on the hook. Then at 3:20 the song stops, save for those meaty riffs that sound capable of crushing rocks at the gravel pit. The ensuing guitar solo is outstanding as well, and I dare you not to be singing the chorus the rest of the day or week once you hear it. “Bat Shit Crazy” (how could I NOT love a song with that title?!?) takes off at a breakneck pace for a large part of the track, and what happens around the two minute mark has a distinctly vintage feel, always a plus. Then we’re off to the races again, with dual harmonized leads as the soundtrack.
My favorite OVERKILL album is From the Underground and Below, and let me tell you something, next song “Distortion” sounds like it would fit perfectly there. From the intro of just Verni and Linsk doing a bass and drums duet to the full band kicking in, this is a track that I just know would fucking destroy live. “A Mother’s Prayer” is a straight ahead asskicker from start to finish, and then “Welcome to the Garden State” comes in and just buries the needle, channeling the best elements of Thrash Metal and Punk Rock. Plus, there’s an ode to The Boss, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and classic “Born to Run” at the end! Meanwhile “Where Few Dare to Walk” is a bit different from the rest of the tunes, but it still fits within the framework of the album.
“Out On the Road-Kill” shows off everything we know and love about this band: pounding drums and bass, killer guitar riffs, and Blitz’s maniacal vocals all mixed together in a Molotov Cocktail of metal, so big thumbs up here. Closing things is “Hole In My Soul,” a favorite of several guys in the band, so I can only assume they’re gonna be doing it live (Fuck, I hope they do). As insane as the group’s openers are, they always manage to keep, if not raise that level of insanity at the end of an album. Bottom line is this: OVERKILL is a band that delivers Thrash Metal greatness year after year, album after album, and The Wings of War is fucking fantastic! It is now my frontrunner for Album of the Year, and that’s a fact. Get your copy ASAP, boys and girls!! No excuses!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM