After two failed attempts to catch the tour in support of OVERKILL’S new album The Grinding Wheel I was finally able to take in a show. The Metal Alliance Tour made its final stop at One Centre Square in Easton, PA and yours truly was there to absorb it all fully. As a bonus, HAVOK was playing in support so this was a double whammy for me. The trek out there only took an hour and fifteen minutes and I arrived with plenty of time to spare. In fact, I was even able to take in one of the openers, SYMETRIA from New Jersey. They’re pretty good with a decent following, and this was actually their CD release show (look for our thoughts on that soon). Oh, and there were a LOT of Jersey people at this gig, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.
I have been flying the flag for Colorado thrashers HAVOK since 2011 when I first discovered them, and live they always bring it. Even though this would only be a seven-song set it was no less crushing than the last five times I saw them. Opening with the potent attack of “Unnatural Selection” from the 2013 album of the same name followed by “D.O.A.” from Time Is Up, the boys were off to a hot start. From here, newest release Conformicide was leaned heavily upon as the band ripped through five of the best cuts from the disc: “Ingsoc”, “F.P.C.”, “Hang ‘em High”, “Claiming Certainty”, and “Intention to Deceive.” After that it was time for the guys to vanish into the night, as they had a long drive to Austin, Texas ahead of them.
Finally it was time for my favorite Thrash Metal band in all the land OVERKILL to show everybody who’s boss. This was my seventh go-round with the Jersey boys and as is always the case, they fucking ruled from first note to last. This was also one of their best-sounding gigs to my ears; their sound guy was super on-point and I was in the perfect spot to hear everything. “Mean Green Killing Machine” kicked off the ass-kicking as the club was easily 60% NJ fans. Hell, you could have renamed the place “One Jersey Square” for the night with the amount of fans who made the trek from there. I lost count of how many special event Starland Ballroom shirts were in the crowd from the various shows the band has played on their home turf.
“Rotten to the Core” and “Electric Rattlesnake” sliced through the air like a runaway chainsaw, and then I had a musical organasm as “Hello From the Gutter” and “In Union We Stand” were played back-to-back. “In Union” is the first song that turned me onto OVERKILL and I still get as excited over it as I first did in 1987. Vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, man…I STILL can’t get over how fantastic he sounds live, singing like a young buck and it’s a hot night in June of 1990! New addition to the group, Jason Bittner on drums, you’d think he’s been in the band for years the way he was nailing all his parts. Bassist D.D. Verni brought the crushing low end, and guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek “The Skull” Tailer worked perfectly in tandem, like they always do.
New track “Goddamn Trouble” was next, and the group of Jersey guys at the table next to me went pretty nuts. You could tell they love this band’s new stuff as much as the older material, and rightfully so. One of them also had on the sickest Starland t-shirt I’ve ever seen from November of 2010. I own a bunch of tees myself, but I was pretty jealous of this one. Another of my old favorites was next with “Wrecking Crew” which only served to “wreck my neck” as the line goes. I still don’t think I’m recovered. 1989’s The Years of Decay made the first of two appearances with “I Hate” followed by another cut from the new disc “Shine On.” And what’s this? The title track from Ironbound right after that? YIS, PLEASE!!
Since this was a city the band had never played before they decided to hit us with an unexpected number in “Thanx For Nothin’” from 1991’s Horrorscope. Man, did the place erupt for that one! After saying goodnight we all knew they weren’t done yet. And then HOLY SHIT ARE YOU KIDDING ME, “Horroscope” the song kicked off the encores?!?! WOW!! Even though I had seen the setlist earlier, hearing this tune live and in the flesh was fucking incredible. “Elimination” from Decay was next, and the crowd went batshit once again, me included. Of course, no OVERKILL show is complete without “Fuck You” as the closer.
When it was all said and done I felt like I’d gone ten rounds with a boxer. And I have to take a moment to thank the staff at One Centre Square for being so very nice and answering my silly questions. I love this venue and will keep coming back! The show was tremendous, and arguably the best I’d seen from these Titans of Thrash. It is 2017 and OVERKILL is still bludgeoning crowds to death all these years later while making it look easy. They are without a doubt one of the best bands you will EVER see and hear live, and that is undeniable fact. They are not ready to give up the mantle, and quite frankly I don’t think anyone will ever be able to take it from them. I hope these guys keep going for another 30 years because a world without new OVERKILL albums and tours is not the world I wanna live in.
LIVE IMAGES: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO