Overkill: Live In Overhausen (Nuclear Blast)
Few people in the metal scene dislike New Jersey’s thrash pioneers Overkill. Those that do are wrong. The band were already a vital force by 1983 as the first wave of US thrash bands began to emerge. Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Anthrax and Testament all stood alongside the pioneering assault of Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth and crew. 1985 saw the debut release, the still fresh Feel The Fire. Over the last 33 years, Overkill has followed its own path with 18 studio albums, tours and never once have I seen them and felt anything but awe. This is a band who are wedded to their craft and don’t give a fuck about anyone else. As far as thrash goes, I’d be happy to say that Overkill stand alongside Kreator as the two bands who always followed their own star.
Recorded in Oberhausen in April 2016 (re-christened Overhausen for the special event), the band played two albums in their entirely. These were Horrorscope (1991) and Feel The Fire (1985). The band picked these two as they were both celebrating milestone anniversaries. Although only Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni remain from the original wrecking crew, the current outfit of Ellsworth, Verni, lead guitarist Dave Linsk, rhythm Derek ‘The Skull’ Tailer and drummer Jason Bittner ensure that Overkill remain as vital today as they did back in those fresh-faced days of the early 1980s. Listening to this album, it’s impossible not to bang the head, smile at the between song banter and remain in awe at how good music written 33 years ago still is.
Listen to Rotten To The Core, still utterly fantastic. Feel the sharpness on opener Coma, or the blistering Nice Day … For A Funeral. Overkill remain one of the most essential bands in metal and this album demonstrates that to the full. 9/10
Graveyard: Peace (Nuclear Blast)
Formed in Gothenburg in 2006, the psychedelic sound of Graveyard has been around for some time. It was 2011’s Hisingen Blues which really pushed the band to my attention, a fabulous riff and groove laden feast of old school retro sounds but with a fresh take. My live experience with the band has been less impressive, with the band arriving late at BOA and pissed off the stage at Download due to the torrential rain. Having split in 2016, the band reformed again a year later, and Peace is the fifth album in the catalogue, following on from Innocence & Decadence which was released in 2015. Peace contains ten tracks which in many ways are typical Graveyard. The duel vocals of Joakin Nilsson and Jonathan Larocca-Ramm combine to great effect, whilst the riffs remain fuzzy, heavy and enticing.
Tracks such as Cold Love demonstrate the band’s love of a good melody, the Bonham style thundering drums of Oskar Bergheim rampant. There are the usual sedentary moments, which allow you to catch the breath before the next magic carpet ride. Check out See The Day, a beautiful slow paced start which builds neatly before the chug of Please Don’t resumes normal service. With Truls Morch also contributing on vocals and bass, Nilsson and Larocca-Ramm are also able to release some neat guitar work throughout the album. This is a quality album from a band who are clearly intent on keeping their sound at all costs. There was a time when yet another stoner psychedelic fusion would have had me screaming. Graveyard don’t sit in that category. A warm welcome back to a band who on their day are quite special. 8/10
‘77: Bright Gloom (Century Media)
Formed in 2006 initially as a tribute to AC/DC’s seminal 1977 album Let There Be Rock, hence the name, ‘77 is a four-piece rock band from Barcelona. Bright Gloom is their fifth album although it’s the first I’ve ever heard by the band. Full of seventies influences with everything from AC/DC, The Who through to The Stooges and Black Sabbath, evident on the doom riff heavy Who’s Fighting Who, there is much to appeal throughout. The sound is certainly fuzzy and distorted, capturing the era that the band are so heavily influenced by. At times mind, it’s a little too muffled; You Better Watch Out for example sounds like it was recorded in an outside toilet. However, it is the combination of styles which makes this album worth a listen, as no two songs sound the same despite the evident intention to capture a specific sound. 7/10
Duel: Live At The Electric Church (HPS Records)
We like Duel. The heavy stoner chugging, the weed infused chaos that infiltrates their music all get the heavy thumbs up. Recorded in an abandoned church turned DIY rock venue, this is six filthy tracks of Duel at their most raw. Limited polish applied, a rowdy crowd who no doubt all had a few beers on board roaring approval and just some down and dirty Duel at their finest. Massive riffs rain down from start to finish, with the 70s pro-metal sound superb. It’s gritty, but oh so good. Stand out track is probably the six-minute Fears Of The Dead, the title track from their excellent debut release of the same name, which is jaw droppingly good. Duel are a band that I never tire of listening to. 8/10