posted on 3/2005 By:
The legendary Cliff Burton once proclaimed defiantly to the media “We’re not trying to be anything big and fancy”, the final three words snarled disdainfully. Burton was referring to the substance over presentation, blue collar realism and authenticity of Metallica and the other pioneers of the early days of thrash. Along the way, his band changed that tune (and all their others), and most of the other big names also eventually abandoned that creed at least partially. Through it all, Overkill have stood firm, middle finger raised defiantly and derisively at the doubters and all those untrue. For over 20 years, the majority of the lifespan of metal itself, they have stood steadfast among the keepers of the thrash flame. With a disregard of the value of the concept of evolution rivaled only by Billy Graham’s, Overkill have maintained a consistent neck wrecking attack, although they’ve injected a heavy amount of groove these days. These guys aren’t old school visitors, they’ve been repeating class for two decades. They’re older than the furniture.
Not only is Overkill consistent, they’re also prolific, pumping out an album every year or two--a considerably higher productivity than that of their peers. ReliXIV is more of the same from these vets, whose stylistic steadfastness is somewhat of a double edged sword, as some fans may not feel it necessary to pony up for each and every album. You may not need all the band’s work, but you’re missing out if you don’t have albums from throughout Overkill’s career represented in your collection. This one is as good as anything else in the band’s recent output and is entirely worthy of the Overkill name. It’s nothing too tricky, just a balls out, workman like thrash effort, and Overkill fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
The band lower their heads and get to work straight away, with the venomous “Within Your Eyes”, one of the heaviest and best songs on the album. It’s vintage Overkill, full of chunky, neck snapping riff work. The intro is reminiscent of “Cough Cool”, from The Misfits, another bunch of New Jersey’s finest. It’s a reference that rears its head again on the last song, the completely self indulgent and highly goofy trip down memory lane called “Old School”, which sports punk rock sing along vocals that sound a lot like “Braineaters”. The galloping attack of “A Pound of Flesh” is sure to please, although the weak vocal melody of the chorus deflates the song a bit. It’s not Ellsworth’s best moment, but it’s more of a deficiency of writing than performance. The performance of the entire band is actually quite tight and strong, and without a trace of complacency. The thunderous crunch of tracks like “Keeper” and “Bats in the Belfry” will be welcome among Overkill’s live setlist for years to come. The band offers up plenty of groove oriented wardance riffing on tracks like “Wheelz”, and “Love”, and “The Mark”. At fifty minutes, the album overstays its welcome, if only slightly, with the relatively toothless pair of closers “Play the Ace” and “Old School”.
This album may not end up on many year-end lists, but is still a solid and enjoyable listen, as you'd expect from these vets.
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