Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records
Don’t fix what’s not broken. We all know and have used that old adage more than once in our lives, including the members of the veteran thrash metal outfit Overkill. It is an adage that the band’s members have used from one album to the next over the course of now more than 30 years. While the band has maintained a very distinct sound from one album to the next, it has also tweaked that sound just enough with each outing, to make every album fresh and interesting. That is why the veteran New Jersey-based outfit has remained one of the elite names in the thrash community for such a long time. The band’s latest album, The Wings of War – its 14th so far – supports these statements just as much as its past albums through its musical and lyrical content. ‘Believe in The Fight,’ which comes early in the 10-song record’s body, is just one of the songs that helps prove the noted argument. ‘Where Few Dare To Walk,’ which comes much later in the 50-minute album’s run, also works to support the noted argument. It will be addressed a little bit later. ‘Welcome To The Garden State,’ the album’s latest single, also exemplifies the statements made here. When the songs noted here are considered along with other songs featured in this record, such as ‘Last Man Standing,’ – the album’s opener – ‘Distortion,’ Hole In My Soul’ and the rest of the album’s offerings, the whole of The Wings of War proves that the members of Overkill still knows how to entertain audiences. To that end, it proves that Overkill as a unit still has plenty of fight left.
Overkill’s most recently released album The Wings of War is a strong new showing from the veteran New Jersey-based thrash metal outfit. That is because from start to finish, it is a record that shows the band still knows how to expertly tweak its familiar thrash sound just enough to keep things interesting for audiences and keep its music fresh. One of the songs featured in this record that supports that statement comes early in the album’s run in the form of ‘Believe in the Fight.’ In terms of its musical arrangement, the song is everything that the band’s fan base has come to expect from the group. At the same time, a close listen to the song reveals a subtlety in the guitar lines that makes the song comparable to some of the best classic works of Metallica and Anthrax. That is evident not just in the guitar lines, but in the drums and the choruses. The similarity is not exact, thank goodness, but it is close enough. One could go so far as to make a comparison to the songs from Metallica’s debut album Kill ‘Em All in listening to this song. That is, of course, just this critic’s own take on the arrangement. The arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out. The song’s lyrical content plays its own important part to its whole.
The song’s lyrical content presents a proud, forceful message of believing in one’s own self and not giving up in life. This is inferred most clearly through the song’s chorus in which front man Bobby Blitz sings, “We’re not going tired/Or slowing in the quiet night/And we’re not leaving something to believe in/When you think there’s nothing left at all/Believe in the fight/And we do it/In the dark/In the light/One last time/Let’s get it right/With a heart as cold as ice/I believe in the fight/ What do you believe in/In the dark/In the light/One last time/Let’s get it right/When there’s nothing left to believe in/Believe in the fight.” That is a rather clear message. Blitz adds to that message in the song’s lead and second verse, saying he is not the type to lie to a person and make that person’s situation worse, nor is the person that type to do the same. It is sort of one of those “and another thing” statements that serves to say to listeners, “I’ll be straight with you and I know you’ll be straight with me, so don’t give up. Keep believing and fighting.” It really is a positive message. When this positive, uplifting message is coupled with the song’s old school 80s thrash metal style arrangement, the result is a song that shows clearly how much Overkill still has to offer. It is just one of the songs that serves to show how much fight this band still has. ‘Where Few Dare To Walk’ is another example of just how much fight this band still has.
Just as is the case with ‘Believe in the Fight,’ ‘Where Few Dare To Walk’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement. Again, the arrangement can be compared to some of the best works from Metallica. In this case, the comparison can be made to the works from the band’s landmark 1986 album Master of Puppets. That is evident right from the foreboding sound of the song’s opening bars and right into heavy, grinding sound that launches not long after. If one wanted, one could even make a comparison to Metallica’s equally beloved album Ride The Lightning with this arrangement, too. Again, it is not the typical up-tempo thrash style work for which Overkill has become known over the decades. The band has tried this sort of sound previously, but only rarely. To that end, it makes this change of pace another example of the continued ability of Overkill’s members to keep things engaging and entertaining for listeners. Its arrangement is just one part of what makes it so interesting, too. Its lyrical content helps it stand out, too.
The song’s lyrical content comes across as another statement reminding listeners to maintain their inner strength. This is inferred in the song’s lead verse, as Blitz sings, “Cross your t’s and dot your I’s/Take note when the raven flies/And always keep one eye upon the fool/Without fear or favor, speak to them/With good behavior to condemn/And keep the other eye upon the cruel.” He comes across as saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. He goes on to sing, “Reach down deep/Stand your ground/We’ve only just begun/Turn no cheek/In step and pound/Until the job is done/And walk,walk.” There, in that chorus, is that message of standing up for one’s self and not being afraid to stand up for something. As if that is not proof enough, he further notes, “Call them out/On their s***/demand they listen/When you talk/wear them down/bit by it/And go where few dare to walk.” Blitz is saying, be brave, be willing to stand up for something and for one’s self. That is because there are so few people who are brave enough to do just that. He even goes so far as to stress, “Do unto others as unto you/Bite down on the golden rule/And always keep a match to light the fuse/Walk softly/Carry a big stick/and disassemble brick by brick/And never think our outcome is to lose.” This is another welcome, empowering statement from the band that is certain to resonate with plenty of listeners. When it is coupled with the song’s arrangement, the whole of the elements makes this song yet another example of just how much fight this band still has in it and what makes the album in whole another example of why Overkill remains today one of hard rocks’ elite acts. It still is not the last of the songs that serves to show what makes The Wings of War stand out just as much as Overkill’s past albums. The loud, proud, fist-pumping anthem that is ‘Welcome to the Garden State’ is one more example of how The Wings of War proves how much Overkill as a unit still has to offer.
‘The arrangement at the center of ‘Welcome to the Garden State’ is yet another example of the ability of Overkill’s members to keep things fresh in that it takes the band’s familiar thrash style and crosses it with a more punk-style sound that ends up being comparable to some of Motorhead’s best works. Yet again, here is Overkill as a unit changing things up just enough for listeners, and in turn keeping things quite interesting. The song’s arrangement is just part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical content stands out just as much as its musical arrangement.
Simply put, this song is a musical and lyrical love letter to New Jersey. Blitz proudly sings in his signature gravelly tone, “Welcome to the Garden State/The best damn place in the U.S.A./You may not agree/You bitch and moan/I’ve been everywhere/But it’s not like home.” He adds at the end of the song’s lead verse, “Don’t f*** with a jersey devil.” In other words, he’s showing his Jersey pride. There’s nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, this critic’s own father was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and spent plenty of time there (and across the Northeast since this critic’s ancestors apparently helped found parts of New England, including New Haven, CT) throughout the years. In other words, while maybe not living there now, this critic has plenty of his own Jersey pride and can relate to Blitz’s words. That includes Blitz’s reference to the traffic on the turnpike and Route 35. That home-state pride is a fun addition to the album, and once more shows – in an especially unique fashion – the continued ability of Overkill’s members to keep things fresh and interesting. When this is considered along with the other two songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, fresh, interesting works couple with the band’s more familiar works for a whole that is another solid offering from Overkill. It proves in whole to be an album that displays without doubt, this veteran hard rock outfit still has plenty of fight left in its members.
Overkill’s 14th full-length studio recording The Wings of War is a powerful new musical salvo from the veteran thrash metal band. From start to end, this 10-song, 50 minute record gives listeners something old and something new. The minor tweaks to the arrangements couple with lyrical themes that are just as certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained as the record’s musical content. The end result is a record that is easily one more of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums. It is available now. More information on the album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest tour updates, news and more at:
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