Listen Up: Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Overkill

Immortalis
(Bodog Music)

By Justin Press

Move forward or keep the status quo? In thrash, do you stay tied to the mid-1980s — arguably the genre’s halcyon days — or try to move forward and thus risk merely bastardizing or exploiting the sound? With Immortalis, Overkill has decided to err on the side of caution. The five New Jerseyans stick to their roots, which is surprising (or maybe not) considering that one-time peers Metallica and Megadeth flew that coop a couple of decades and a hundred gold records ago.
Of course, metal fans were not exactly holding their collective breath in anticipation of a new Overkill record. Most of them have moved on to Tool, Dillinger Escape Plan, Opeth, and other current bad-asses, and rightfully so. Blurring the lines between hardcore, prog-rock, blues, and noise, Tool and company long ago destroyed the metal blueprint, intentionally or not, and the result has been many-splendored, chiefly in even more new waves of young, boundary-crushing bone-crunchers.
Simply put, Overkill seems more than happy to replicate F*!k You, the band’s ancient mix of pounding rhythms and six-string shredding, all ostensibly created to get “hashers” moshing and stage-diving, dirtying up their blindingly white high-top Reeboks.
From the opener, “Devils In The Mist,” to track five, “Hellish Pride,” to the closer, “Overkill V,” Immortalis asks the listener but one question: “Does your denim-and-leather still fit?” The band lifts the templates of Metallica’s masterpiece, Master of Puppets, and Megadeth’s thinking-man’s metal opus, Peace Sells, and aims for five notches lower than either. There’s nothing to grab hold of. The double-bass rumblings, the staccato riffs, the angry vocals — none of it stands out. Instead of taking the time to write a few solid, memorable, and simple riffs and melodies — and play fast and furious around them — Overkill stuffs 100 pounds of notes into a couple of two-pound bags. The result is a monolithic, relatively monotone, 30-minute blast of machine-gun fire.
This isn’t an ageism issue — even as a tireless 18-year-old banger, I wouldn’t have found the record inspiring. Immortalis is merely a substandard record from a band that gained legend mainly by opening for Slayer at some point.
The thrash landscape, nay, the entire metal landscape, has grown, and, save for Iron Maiden and Sabbath, the old school simply does not have a place. Overkill should realize that Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, and Shadows Fall are the new idols of the white, young, angry, and mulleted. Except for the handful of true believers still out there, Overkill is still relevant and kick-ass only like a thirtysomething’s sweet pair of dusty Reeboks.


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