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Thursday 14 April 2016

A View From The Back Of The Room: Overkill (Live Review By Paul)

Killfest: Overkill, Vader & One Machine The Fleece, Bristol

Openers One Machine (5) kick off proceedings shortly after doors meaning that they open up to a sparsely populated room. Full of aggression and powerful surging riffs, they also sound completely schizophrenic with vocalist Chris Hawkins high voice mixing uncomfortably with the band’s frenetic gallop. Partly due to a difficult mix, but in part because the songs don't appear that well constructed, the audience provide a polite if lukewarm response. Full marks for effort with Steve Smyth, ex of about a million outfits including heavyweights Testament and Forbidden, an imposing figure and Hawkins really hamming up the heavy metal frontman role. However, if your songs don't grab the punter by the balls then splitting the audience down the middle for a “heavy metal roar” just sounds limp.

No such problems for Polish death metal legends Vader (8) who once their muddy sound is addressed lay waste to the venue for the swiftest 40 minutes I've experienced in a long time. Opener Wings suffers due to the sound but Go To Hell from the excellent Tibi Et Igni is top drawer as the Poles deliver a lesson in death metal. Limited chat from Piotr Wiwczarck and little room to move on the stage due to the size of James Stewart’s kit, Vader pounded heads as they drew on their vast back catalogue. Reborn In Flames, Come And See My Sacrifice and a blistering Triumph Of Death get necks flexing and early thrashing at the front. Vader are incredibly tight if a little disjointed between songs but the guitar work of Marek Pajek and Tomas Halicki is obscene. Ending with old school tracks from the very early days,  Dark Ages and Helleluyah (God Is Dead) Vader exit to the Imperial March and a huge ovation from an appreciative and very busy Fleece audience.

Having thrashed their way from New Jersey all around the world since the early 1980s,, Overkill (9), one of the most important thrash bands of all time, are in no mood to fuck about and spend the next 90 minutes delivering a masterclass. Led by the centre stage veterans human dynamo Bobby “Blitz” Ellesworth and birthday bassist D.D. Verni, Overkill can do no wrong to the ecstatic crowd. Kicking off with the sole track from White Devil Armoury, the blistering Armourist, the band spend the rest of the evening plundering their back catalogue. Guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer are having a ball, all smiles as they race through over half of Horrorscope and a good serving of debut album Feel The Fire with a liberal sprinkling of other classics including the mighty Electric Rattlesnake and Hello From The Gutter. Meanwhile Ellesworth demonstrates all his years of experience, conserving energy between verses before springing back into action and hanging over the crowd from one of the central pillars that make The Fleece such a unique venue. “I'm in charge” he tells Bristol early in the set and no one would dare to challenge.  Barely pausing for breath between tracks, Bobby informs the crowd that this is their first ever visit to Bristol, which really seems amazing and a massive oversight on their part. Still it's been worth the wait as classics rain from the stage; Coma, Blood And Iron, Hammerhead, Feel The Fire and Rotten To The Core are all given a run out, much to the delight of the real old schoolers in the house. Overkill do what they which is to thrash your head off.  Overkill don't care about fashion or the times, they just don't care. Fuck you!

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