Dokken – The Elektra Albums 1983 – 1987

The Elektra Albums 1983 - 1987 Album Cover Art

Dokken – The Elektra Albums 1983 – 1987
Release Date: 27/01/23
Running Time: 03:02:39
Review by Simon Black
Breaking The Chains – 4/10
Tooth And Nail – 9/10
Under Lock And Key – 8/10
Back For The Attack – 7/10

In recent years a combination of lockdowns strangling the marketplace and a lot of mergers and acquisitions across labels taking place means there’s a significant boom in repackaging legacy releases for either a last hurrah, or because some interesting rarities have been unearthed that don’t warrant a full release on their own without the contextual support of the more successful material from the past. Labels like BMG and Cherry Red in particular have been doing a lot of this as of late, and for someone like me who was around first time round it’s been a pleasure to either rediscover stuff from that more innocent era, or as in this case, actually really listen for the first time to something that passed me by completely first time round.

Growing up in the UK, Dokken were an act that never really registered on my Rock ‘N’ Roll radar, despite cutting my teeth on the softer end of the genre – although that might not be a surprise given that for most of their successful period the reality was that they were one of a whole bunch of artists with a large and devoted following in their native USA first and foremost. That said, having a good relationship with the Scorpions, who helped open doors there meant that they made a dent and an initial deal in Germany early in the 1980’s, the end result of this was “Breaking The Chains” on Germany’s Carrere Records. 

Thanks to the efforts of legendary manager Cliff Burnstein, that European success was lifted and shifted to the States, because this was the time when all you needed to really get an American major label to sit up, take notice and dig out their cheque books was to tell them that the band was already “big in Europe”, then count the advance lolly, whilst the lucrative arena support slots that could make or break a band rolled in. That Germany release of their 1981 debut album was remixed completely in 1983 and released again Stateside with a totally different track listing for the pandered-to American audience, to the point where it’s a completely different beast entirely. Since this is an Elektra years box set the German original is not included here, which is a shame as it would have made an interesting comparison. The end result though is frankly a little insipid, with most of the rough ‘n’ roll edges being polished off in an effort to make them worthy of MTV or US Rock Radio constant rotation, which to be fair worked a treat in terms of success, if not in credibility.

Sadly, it’s typical of the over-polished commercial pap this decade was littered with and only starts to get interesting when they let rip with ‘Live To Rock (Rock To Live)’, which whilst being as clichéd as fuck, has a bit of pace, energy and rough Rock ’n’ Roll looseness desperately lacking elsewhere. Fortunately, there’s a couple more like this hidden away, so in old parlance. This was a side B album and definitely not a great one, as tracks like ‘Young Girls’ really date it. It says everything when the best stuff on your debut is down to the inclusion of some live B side material on a three decade later re-release. Although it does give you a sense of what they were originally aiming for, this live track and the sparse belters stand head and shoulders above the majority of the diluted version of the studio release in the USA.

“Tooth And Nail” on the other hand sounds like a totally different band, although the only line-up change has been the addition of Jeff Pilson on bass, bringing together what history has deemed was the “classic” Dokken line-up. Even the instrumental opener “Without Warning” sets a totally different tone, with a more focussed and technically proficient acoustic guitar introduction that stands way above the simplistic and overly commercial first album. The title track follows and is from the same up-tempo stable as the small number of songs that actually worked on the debut, and again the guitar work has gone from “playing” to “shredding”, and finally we can see why everyone rates George Lynch so darned highly.

If remixing “Breaking The Chains” washed out all the goodness, then “Tooth And Nail” has retained the rawness and energy, whilst having enough glitz in the mix to sound big and fat without losing the frisson, which let’s face it was often achieved in the 80’s by turning the reverb up to 11 on absolutely every knob and dial on the desk, which means roaring power chords rattle your kidneys and sound huge whilst keeping the garage feel. Dokken’s voice is very different too, with the more Rock crooning of the debut finally giving way to the more Metal sound he’s globally known for (and still has to this day as his voice has aged). The song writing is a definite improvement though, and perennial favourites ‘Alone Again’ and ‘Into The Fire’ are birthed here, so for my money this is the start of Dokken’s Golden era good and proper.

“Under Lock and Key” is the difficult third child, which brings back a lot of the overt polish of the debut but not at the detriment of the songs. It’s definitely a more commercial record than “Tooth And Nail” but the technical edge shines through despite the excess studio polish, and whilst not as raucous as anything on T&N it was absolutely the kind of thing to pack arenas at early doors supporting the likes of Judas Priest, Dio, (the flagging) Kiss and (the second coming of) Aerosmith, clocking in an impression platinum disk along the way. This is the absolute peak of the Glam Metal era, and whereas this sort of music was a minority interest in Europe and the UK in particular, every teenager of that generation would have at least known their names and be familiar with some of the hits (‘In My Dreams’ and ‘It’s Not Love’ most notably). Although I prefer the edgier predecessor, the music here works of the time, and to be honest there are still at least 3,000 bands in Sweden still trying to sound like this, so they must have been doing something right.

Closing the set is “Back For The Attack”, the last album before things started to fall apart for this line-up of Dokken. This band worked because of the creative frisson between Don Dokken and George Lynch, but those two struggled to work together and it shows on this album, which despite having the maturity of sound which balances the more energetic end of their delivery with the glitz and polish of the decade of Glam, doesn’t quite have the song-writing edge on its two immediate predecessors. The songs have the sound of the era, but it’s missing the kind of punch the sky anthem. That is, with the notable exception of the afterthought ‘Dream Warriors’, which was actually recorded separately for inclusion as the title song of the contemporary “Nightmare On Elm Street, Part Umpteenth”. This track predates the sessions for “Back For The Attack”, and still has the strengths from the previous two studio albums, which is probably why it’s the only song from the record that you will find on the top of the artist’s top 10 streams on the platforms.

By 1989 the whole movement was running out of steam, and not long after this release Dokken and Lynch parted ways. Everyone kept going under their own steam with related projects, with Dokken starting true solo records and the guitarist starting Lynch Mob. They would indeed reform in 1993, but by the time they did the market had moved on from big hair and spandex to lumberjack shirts and dreadlocks, and didn’t last. Although the creative hatchet seems to have been buried in the last few years, and with all members of the golden age cropping up regularly on Italian label Frontiers potpourri releases, nothing has recaptured the energy and popularity they achieved with the material on this box set. With the rise and decline bookending the strength and power of the two strong albums in the middle, this is a fascinating snapshot of a musical movement that whilst long gone, remains an influence today.

Disc 1: Breaking The Chains
01. Breaking The Chains
02. In The Middle
03. Felony
04. I Can’t See You
05. Live To Rock (Rock To Live)
06. Nightrider
07. Seven Thunders
08. Young Girls
09. Stick To Your Guns
10. Paris Is Burning (Live In Berlin 1982)

Disc 2: Tooth And Nail
01. Without Warning (Instrumental)
02. Tooth And Nail
03. Just Got Lucky
04. Heartless Heart
05. Don’t Close Your Eyes
06. When Heaven Comes Down
07. Into The Fire
08. Bullets To Spare
09. Alone Again
10. Turn On The Action

Disc 3: Under Lock And Key
01. Unchain The Night
02. The Hunter
03. In My Dreams
04. Slippin’ Away
05. Lightning Strikes Again
06. It’s Not Love
07. Jaded Heart
08. Don’t Lie To Me
09. Will The Sun Rise
10. Til’ The Livin’ End

Disc 4: Back For The Attack
01. Kiss Of Death
02. Prisoner
03. Night By Night
04. Standing In The Shadows
05. Heaven Sent
06. Mr. Scary
07. So Many Tears
08. Burning Like A Flame
09. Lost Behind The Wall
10. Stop Fighting Love
11. Cry Of The Gypsy
12. Sleepless Night
13. Dream Warriors

Don Dokken – Lead Vocals, Rhythm & Lead Guitar
George Lynch – Lead Guitar
Mick Brown – Drums
Juan Croucier – Bass, Background Vocals (Breaking The Chains only)
Jeff Pilson – Bass, Backing Vocals (Disks 2-4)


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Dio – Donington ’83 / Donington ’87 (Re-Release)

Dio – Donington ’83 / Donington ’87 (Re-Release)
Niji Entertainment & BMG
Release Date: 23/09/22
Running Time: 45:44/48:43
Review by Simon Black

Originally released very shortly after Ronnie’s death in 2010, this revamped version of these two classic live shows from the defunct, but much missed Monsters of Rock festivals of the 1980’s are a real snapshot of Dio captured in amber at the peak of his solo career. This time out there’s some fancy packaging to entice the collector on both these limited-edition vinyl and CD versions, with 3D  Lenticular art print on the covers and an exclusive etching on one side of the vinyl version. It’s almost as if there’s a Dio movie on the horizon to cash in on…

Compared to the older version on streaming platforms, this definitely feels like a bit of much needed cleaning up has taken place to the recordings, even if there’s no way of remixing the source tapes. Sadly, this does nothing to fix the lack of gapless playbacks between tracks on the 1983 disk, which means you sometime get the ridiculous situation of a fade out at the end of one song, with the opening bar of the next song clearly heard, which then promptly restarts on the next track after the gap! This sounds really messy when you get to the end of the disk when what should have been a clever medley of Rainbow classics ‘The Man On The Silver Mountain’ and ‘Starstruck’ stops and starts so messily. That said, both of these recordings are really surprisingly solid in terms of recording sound quality, which is a bit of a miracle considering what a ropey process this could be in the 1980’s, never mind at a big festival this with six acts sharing the limited facilities available. 

Given that for 1983 Dio was only the second act on, a forty-five-minute set list seems generous by modern standards. But these were the days when there was only one stage, when the changeovers were less slick and the audience wasn’t going anywhere else, so Dio has some real enthusiasm to feed off. His solo career had only just got off the starting blocks in 1983, so with only the “Holy Diver” album to draw from inevitable means a liberal peppering of material from his Rainbow and Sabbath days, but that’s what that crowd would have wanted to hear at this point in his career, and the roars that great the historical entries prove the point.

By the time you get to 1987, the Dio band are a major draw in their own right, so he’s in the support slot at this point, and this time the limiting factor may be space on the disk, so we don’t get to hear the performances of ‘Sunset Superman’ or ‘We Rock’ – plus the play order is jumbled up for no readily apparent reason. However, he absolutely has the crowd in the palm of his hand this time out. To be honest I think I would have preferred to hear these two missing items from the set list, rather than some of the track duplications we do get, although to be fair only three songs crop up twice, and when they do, you can hear immediately how much better a guitar player Vivian Campbell is than Craig Goldy (despite Cambell clearly struggling with a guitar that doesn’t want to stay in tune on the first disk).

These are minor quibbles though, because what we’re here for is the fantastic vocal performances of this much missed Heavy Metal hero that war Ronnie James Dio, and in both shows he’s absolutely on top form. I was expecting to be a bit bitchy about these releases, given that they were originally rushed out to cash in when he died, and again given there’s a lot of buzz about the forthcoming movie, but to be honest I loved listening to both of them and it reminds me just how much I miss this fabulous frontman. 


Donington ‘83
01. Stand Up and Shout
02. Straight Through the Heart
03. Children of the Sea
04. Rainbow in the Dark
04. Holy Diver
06. Drum Solo
07. Stargazer
08. Guitar Solo
09. Heaven and Hell
10. Man on the Silver Mountain
11. Starstruck
12. Man on the Silver Mountain (Reprise)

Donington ‘87
01. Dream Evil
02. Neon Knights
03. Naked in the Rain
04. Rock and Roll Children
05. Long Live Rock and Roil
06. The Last in Line
07. Children of the Sea
08. Holy Diver
09. Heaven and Hell
10. Man on the Silver Mountain
11. All the Fools Sailed Away
12. The Last in Line (Reprise)
13. Rainbow in the Dark

Ronnie James Dio – Vocals 
Vivian Campbell – Guitar (Donnington ’83)
Craig Goldy – Guitar (Donnington ’87)
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums 
Claude Schnell – Keyboards


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Soulfly – The Soul Remains Insane – The Studio Albums 1998 To 2004

The Soul Remains Insane Box Set Cover Art

Soulfly – The Soul Remains Insane – The Studio Albums 1998 To 2004
Release Date: 17/06/2022
Running Time: 04:55:00 
Review by Emma Torkington 
Score 8/10

If you haven’t heard of the epic band that is Soulfly here is your guide to their first 4 albums! 

Their first album “Soulfly” was released into the world in 1998. What a legend it was / is still to this day. The unmistakable growl of Max Cavalera’s voice and the hard-hitting guitars sets you up for a head-banging, air-guitaring, mosh-pitting ride. My favourite song on this album is so hard to choose, as they are all a knockout. ‘Tribe’ has a slightly different vibe with a chant start which I even had to check it was still the same band, then all of a sudden that guy punching drumline kicks in and brings you right back. If this album is only a taste of what is to come… then I will need some physio for head banging! 

The next album came two years later in 2000 called “Primitive”. I have to say that this is one of my favourite albums and the song ‘Jumpdafuckup’ was my introduction to this band waaayyyy back in the day. This brings back so many memories (some of which are a little hazy). This album is the epitome of early 2000’s Metal! The other song that I find hits hard in your gut is ‘Terrorist’, with which Max’s distinguished growl kicks you into gear! If you need a new workout song this should be on your playlist. 

The third album in this back catalogue is titled “3” entered in 2002. This 14-track album has the same energy, gut thumping, moshing music that we love from Max! With that tribal feel, it grabs you and pulls you in. ‘Tree of Pain’ is a break from the heavy intros we are used, to but this eight minute track is not to be taken lightly either, and it is my favourite on this album. 

“Prophecy” was dropped in 2004, making this fourth album a delight to fans everywhere. This tribal dream just hits so hard that you can’t help but replay it over and over again. The title track ‘Prophecy’ is a huge welcome to this album, with the traits that Max Cavalera is known for. When bands who have been around as long as Soulfly sometimes you know what to expect, but this fourth album you do know what to expect but it has its surprises too.

The fifth album to my surprise was a bonus of unreleased tracks, B-sides and singles! This album called “Soulfire” was a shock, but it is such a good listen. Not going to give too much away though but this bonus album makes it worth it! 

This walk through Soulfly’s back catalogue has had me dancing to old favourites and reliving the tracks I had long forgotten. The entire box set with the bonus album and book is a must have for any die hard Max Cavalera fans! 


Disk 1 – “Soulfly”: 
01. Eye For An Eye
02. No Hope = No Fear
03. Bleed
04. Tribe
05. Bumba
06. First Commandment
07. Bumbklaatt
08. Soulfly
09. Umbabarauma
10. Quilombo
11. Fire
12. The Song Remains Insane
13. No
14. Prejudice 
15. Karmageddon

Disk 2 – “Primitive”:
01. Back To The Primitive 
02. Pain
03. Bring It 
04. Jumpdafuckup 
05. Son Song
06. Boom
07. Terrorist 
08. The Prophet
09. Soulfly II
10. In Memory Of 
11. Flyhigh

Disk 3 – “3”:
01. Downstory
02. Seek ‘N’ Strike
03. Enterfaith
04. One 
05. L.O.T.M
06. Brasil
07. Tree Of Pain 
08. One Nation
09. 9-11-01
10. Call To Arms
11. Four Elements 
12. Soulfly III
13. Sangue De Barrio
14. Zumbi

Disk 4 – “Prophecy”:
01. Prophecy 
02. Living Sacrifice 
03. Execution Style
04. Defeat U
05. Mars
06. I Believe 
07. Moses
08. Born Again Anarchist 
09. Porrada
10. In The Meantime 
11. Soulfly IV
12. Wings

Disk 5 – “Soulfire”:
01. Cangaceiro
02. Ain’t No Feeble Bastard
03. Possibility Of Life’s Destruction 
04. Chaos 
05. Soulfire (Uncontrollable Mix) 
06. I Will Refuse 
07. Under The Sun
08. Tribe (Tribal Terrorism Mix) 
09. Quilombo (Zumbi Dub Mix) 
10. Umbabarauma (World Cup Mix) 
11. Terrorist (Total Destruction Mix) 
12. Berimbau Jam


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Emma Torkington and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Running Wild – The First Years of Piracy / Ready For Boarding (Expanded Edition) Reissues

Running Wild – The First Years of Piracy / Ready For Boarding (Expanded Edition) Reissues
Release Date: 27/05/22
Running Time: The First Years of Piracy – 00:42:41
Running Time: Ready For Boarding – 01:26:01
Review by Simon Black
The First Years of Piracy – 9/10
Ready For Boarding – 8/10
Overall – 8.5/10

Once upon a time, there was a rather wonderful independent record label known as Noise Records. Started by the force of nature that is one-time jailed anarchist turned entrepreneur Karl-Ulrich Walterbach. The label and its punk predecessor Aggressive Rockproduktionen were born in a Berlin squat, with Walterbach making all of his business related calls on their behalf from a payphone in the street outside. Despite these humble origins, the label is pretty much single handedly responsible for establishing the German Heavy Metal and Thrash scenes and lifting them by their boot straps out of the underground, which at the time were predominated by the USA and the UK (much as Metal Blade and Music For Nations were doing elsewhere). If you are interested in the history of this fascinating label, then I thoroughly recommend the marvellous “Damn the Machine – The Story of Noise Records” book by David E. Gehlke for a fantastic insight into both the label and its Marmite-like owner.

The biggest hit from this stable was without doubt Power Metal progenitors Helloween, but it also gave a voice to Thrash stalwarts Kreator and many others. At this point they became Noise International, but one foot remained firmly in Germany and mainland Germany and that’s where bands like Tankard and Running Wild had their core audience. The label suffered greatly as music consumption changed forever and finally folded early in the 2000’s. Since then a number of records from that period have been lost to time and impossible to get hold of. Enter BMG, who have swept up the IP, and this month have starting giving some long lost gems the chance to see the light of day.

Running Wild had not really come across my radar at the time and to be fair they never really took off in the UK, but they have remained a stalwart of the scene, without ever really hitting any major levels of success globally, which is a shame. The band are still cranking new material out, but these two releases have been like rocking horse droppings for some time. They also have the historical accolade of being the first band to bring the concept of Pirate Metal to the world, although to be fair this was only a part of their output.

“The First Years of Piracy” is in fact a re-recording of material from their first three albums. Now before you run away screaming at that thought, you have to remember that Walterbach had humble business origins and was good at making money … most of which was achieved by not actually spending any in the production process if he could possibly avoid it. Consequently those early albums were recorded fast and furiously and with a revolving door of a line-up, so in the main sounded dire. So the chance to re-cut their more successful tracks in a decent studio without the need for pre-production to bed in the new line-up was a wise decision at the time and it’s one of those rare instances were the re-recordings work infinitely better than the originals. This is as much due to the fact that vocalist / guitarist Rock ‘n’ Rolf had improved his technique 100% by this point in their careers, but when you’ve had a bit of success you can also get a bit tougher with your label, and since Walterbach always wanted his bands to press something new every year, this was clearly a stop-gap to gel the line-up and give them time to write something new. That and the fact that it’s been out of print for decades, make this a welcome reissue for many of the band’s stalwart fans.

The music is all thunderously fast Speed and Heavy Metal, without a single cod-Folk cliché or an accordion in sight – the piratical elements being kept to some of the lyrics and the original album artwork. Unlike a lot of material from the 80’s it actually stands up well (although it was re-cut in 1991), as it’s the kind of classic Metal that never goes out of fashion and passes the test of time – to the point that I am scratching my head as to why I had never really listened to them before. This is by the book Heavy Metal yes, but effective and lively with it, with a classic twin guitar style and the typical vocal style of the period that happens when your frontman also plays the axe. The production values are so much better than the original recordings to boot, so that it really sounds like a band re-born and is a great jumping on point if, like me, you are quite new to the band.

The expanded edition of “Ready For Boarding” seems to be a new beast entirely, expanded to a full two CD set. The original version had ten tracks recorded in 1987 in Munich on the back of the definitive “Under Jolly Roger” album, but this version has a full second disk from a later gig in Düsseldorf in 1989 when the band were touring “Death and Glory” (previously available only as a live VHS), so you are definitely getting your money’s worth. The sound of the first disk is rich and fat, with the crowd present enough in the mix to get the energy and a downmix that feels fresh, fat and intimate. It captures the formidable energy this band exude live, which was so often lacking in their early vinyl, which was one of the reasons the re-release above was such a step up from these. 

The second disk has a way crisper sound, perhaps not surprising given that it had a visual counterpart (also available as a DVD on some versions of this re-package), and although it sounds a little further away, the mix is cleaner and crisper, allowing the depth of the instruments and the subtleties of the interplay to stand out a bit, compared to the slightly more rough and ready Munich show. This second disk is a band playing bigger shows and more confidently, and it’s really clear that they are at the top of their game here, as is the gradual improvement in Rolf’s voice as he hones his technique. Two live disks is not too hard on the ear either, as it’s only ‘Raw Ride’ and the perennially popular ‘Prisoner Of Our Time’ that get repeated on both, which keeps things fresh. 

This pair of re-releases is a chance to see a band at their peak, and for a fan who has been deprived of these gems, a worthwhile edition to the collection. Here’s to more booty from the Noise treasure chest…

‘Prisoner Of Our Time’ Live Video


The First Years of Piracy 
01. Under Jolly Roger
02. Branded and Exiled
03. Soldiers of Hell
04. Raise Your Fist
05. Walpurgis Night
06. Fight the Oppression
07. Marching To Die
08. Raw Ride
09. Diamonds of the Black Chest
10. Prisoner of Our Time

Ready For Boarding
01. Hymn of Long John Silver (Intro) (Live In Munich)
02. Under Jolly Roger (Live In Munich)
03. Genghis Khan (Live In Munich)
04. Raise Your Fist (Live In Munich)
05. Purgatory (Live In Munich)
06. Mordor (Live In Munich)
07. Diabolic Force (Live In Munich)
08. Raw Ride (Live In Munich)
09. Adrian (S.O.S.) (Live In Munich)
10. Prisoner of Our Time (Live In Munich)
11. Intro (Live in Düsseldorf)
12. Riding The Storm (Live in Düsseldorf)
13. Bad To The Bone (Live in Düsseldorf)
14. Raw Hide (Live in Düsseldorf)
15. Raging Fire (Live in Düsseldorf)
16. Tortuga Bay (Live in Düsseldorf)
17. Uaschtschun (Live in Düsseldorf)
18. Bass Solo (Live in Düsseldorf)
19. Conquistadores (Live in Düsseldorf)
20. Prisoner Of Our Time (Live in Düsseldorf)


The First Years of Piracy: 
Rock ‘n’ Rolf – Vocals, Guitars
Jens Becker – Bass, Vocals
AC – Drums, Vocals
Axel Morgan – Guitars, Vocals

Ready For Boarding:
Jens – Bass, Vocals
Stefan – Drums, Vocals
Rock ‘n Rolf – Vocals (lead), Guitars
Majk – Guitars, Vocals


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Tankard – For A Thousand Beers 

For A Thousand Beers Album Cover Art

Tankard – For A Thousand Beers 
Release Date: 25/02/22
Running Time: 07:31:56
Review by Simon Black
Zombie Attack – 5/10
Chemical Invasion – 6/10
The Morning After / Alien EP – 4/10
The Meaning Of Life – 7/10
Stone Cold Sober – 8/10
Two-Faced – 9/10
The Tankard / Tankwart “Aufgetankt” – 10/10
Overall – 7/10

The story of Tankard is in many ways also the story of legendary German Metal pioneer label Noise International and its marmite-like owner Karl-Ulrich Walterbach … or at the very least emblematic of their shared history. Although best known for the more successful acts that sprung from the stable like Helloween and Kreator, a wealth of other bands were also hidden away in the labels’ roster, with many of them never really breaking beyond the confines of their German roots in quite the same way as the two I just mentioned. Tankard are definitely one of those acts that go back to the early days of Noise and this box set pretty much covers the entire discography of that period, with the notable exception of the live album Fat, Ugly & Live – which may not have made it out of the 80’s in one piece, unlike Tankard themselves. 

Now a little confession – despite my advancing age, despite my undisguised love of the roots of Thrash and despite the fact that any given Metal festival I will be the chap at the ale bar explaining to the staff why their shite plastic glass is not a pint measure and my hallmarked pewter tankard most definitely is, I have not actually ever got around to listening to the band of the same name before this point. There’s probably a few reasons for this, starting with the one I mentioned earlier about them not being seen on UK shores widely back in the day but mostly because despite being a stalwart of the movement, they haven’t really got an ‘everyman’ track that is globally recognised in the way that Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax or Megadeth has. This, despite some blisteringly proficient albums and some quite legendary live performances – but they have most definitely earned themselves a deserved place in the Teutonic ‘Big 4’, alongside Kreator, Sodom and Destruction, as there’s more than just songs about getting pissed in the midst of all this.

Their “Zombie Attack” debut is full of early 80’s Thrash zeitgeist and is a soundalike contemporary of Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’, although with slightly lower production values, even though it came along three years later during the second wave of copycat Thrash. Sadly label owner Walterbach was notably tight when it came to recording budgets, and it really shows here. It’s fast, frenetic, full of youthful enthusiasm but by this time it was part of a crowded marketplace. The song titles and lyrics may be dripping in teenage enthusiasm and 80’s Metal cliché, but what I hear is a band and a record on the bleeding edge of a movement at its peak. Lyrically the horror and war tropes get more air time than the songs about beer, but hey its early days and it was probably recorded in very short order.

“Chemical Invasion” came a mere one year later, which was the normal modus operandi for Noise and consequently feels like it’s picking up where its predecessor left off. It does so with the benefit of a year’s road wisdom, so the beer songs which went down so well live are sharing the duration and weighting more equally with everything else, but musically it’s a subtly different beast indeed. The debut flew past in a blur of three minute chunks of Thrash fury, but this baby takes it’s time in a few places. Although the overall run time is only about three minutes longer than the debut and it’s peppered with intros and interludes, the song that gives this box set its title and the weighty epic ‘Traitor’ are both around the eight minute mark. ‘For A Thousand Beers’ may be a bit of amusing wordplay, but it’s a piece of music that starts with a well-crafted acoustic introduction that shows maturity, skill and depth for a good couple of minutes before cranking up the overdrive and adding drums on the same riff structure for a further couple, before turning into a full on Thrash jam for its remainder. It’s the sort of thing teenage me would have absolutely loved and I’m slightly frustrated to only be discovering it now but better late than never. It gives the album much more depth and maturity than its predecessor and promises greatness for what’s to come.

“The Morning After” in many ways steps back to the start with regard to the Thrashiness and feels much more like a sequel to Zombie Attack than its immediate predecessor. The more subtle musical experimentation of “Chemical Invasion” doesn’t present this time around, but they’ve adopted the habit of longer tracks with four and a half to five minutes being the norm here, even if the musical feel is more punk this time round. It also feels like a more in your face and edgy recording, reflected in the much rawer guitar sound adopted this time round and a slightly less obvious sense of fun, even on the inevitable tracks about beer. The down side this time round is that with the exception of the Spermbird cover ‘Try Again’, there isn’t much to differentiate between the tracks, which have a tendency to blur into one another although the slightly off kilter keyboard breaks on ‘Help Yourself’ do at least prove they’ve not lost their penchant for experimentation. They do the Thrash well mind, but it gets a bit repetitive after a while, although to be fair this was the period when Thrash bands were busy looking dark and moody into the lenses of their publicity photograph cameramen, like this would scare off Grunge before it started… 

This disk also includes the “Alien EP” – a release which was pushed out as a gap filer with the band not ready to release a full album that year given the need to replace drummer Oliver Werner. It has a much fatter and more polished mix to it, feeling like some proper care is finally being spent in the Production department after three albums that are not too far removed from demo quality. Had that level of quality applied to “The Morning After” material, I think the net effect would be much more positive as it adds a huge amount to the enjoyment when you can differentiate clearly what the individual players are up to, having been lost in the mix somewhat up to this point on this disk. It also has that all important sense of fun that the more po-faced album managed and is by far what saves this disk. 

“The Meaning Of Life” feels like the start of something different. Most noticeably Andreas Geremia’s vocals are noticeably more intelligible from this point and he seems to have invested some time in developing his vocal techniques to boot, with some controlled screams adding to the depth of his delivery significantly – although he is a little too high in the mix compared to the majority of the instrumentation. Add to which the production values are many orders of magnitude better than what had gone before and suddenly it feels like a band using their tools with more professional panache. The difference is tangible because this record still retains the energy and freshness of the early disks, but actually feels like it was recorded in a professional studio rather than someone’s garage for 100 Deutschmarks and a pallet of beer. It’s also a much meatier disk than anything up to this point and on this version the addition of five live tracks bulks the run time on this one to a whopping hour and seventeen minutes. At this point this feels like the strongest record since “Chemical Invasion”, but then I am only half way through this marathon…

That somewhat sobering thought gets me to “Stone Cold Sober”, released at a time when Thrash and Metal in general were under severe marketing pressure from some passing fad out of Seattle. Tankard respond to this threat with fierce Teutonic aplomb and for me this is the strongest record of the lot up to this point. The twelve songs in the core release take up over an hour of run time again and are the mix between full on Thrash, fun beer songs and a couple of left field humorous elements, so the pattern is very much the same as what has gone before, but the execution is so much the stronger. The production has been slowly improving with every release, but this one makes a much larger jump in quality. Whereas in the past improvements tended to be in one area sometimes at the expense of others, this is the first album to sound like its actually taken time to not only pre-produce but to craft and polish the sound to something more professional. 

The downside of this is that the limitations of singer Geremia become that bit more obvious. The challenge is not so much what he is doing, but that he has been doing it with unvarying consistency for five albums and EP so far. The fact that he doesn’t vary the tone and pitch of his delivery much means it starts to get a bit wearing when you are five hours in. This is why the album instrumental closer ‘Of Strange People Talking Under Arabian Skies’ is such an eye opener. Not only does it bring back a layer of musical experimentation not seen since “Chemical Invasion”, but it’s got the benefit of a few years’ experience and willingness to undertake a more complex and intricate piece of music and pays off for the boldness (not to mention giving us a much needed break from the one-tone vocals) before the disk finishes off with a few more live tracks.

“Two-Faced” however starts to break a lot of the moulds. For a start lyrically, this is a dark and political thematic concept album, with bugger all in the way of drinking songs and a much richer and more mature style of delivery. Sure, they’re still a Thrash album but the conceptual content about the darker side of life, death, war and an overall long hard poke at US politics but for the first time this album has variety in tone and pace of the songs themselves  and more importantly, in the vocal delivery. This is still clearly Tankard, but it’s a much better and more rounded album than those that went before and stands tall in this set as a result and is the album I think I’m most likely to come back to again.

This mammoth set closes out with a combined copy “The Tankard”, their last full studio album for Noise and the slight eclectic Tankwart “Aufgetankt” release squeezed on the end for good measure. The main self-titled album part is a very different beast from anything else they’ve done up to this point. The journey towards quality production completes just in time for the band’s engagement with Noise to close and it was a constant source of frustration to so many a band on the label that Karl-Ulrich Walterbach was such a skinflint when it came to investing in quality in the studio. This is a man who spent time in jail in Germany for his association with anarchist / terrorist groups, before starting the label from a squat and managing the business courtesy of a public payphone in the street outside. Given those origins and his goal of pulling the rug out from under major labels, he didn’t half manage the label like a born accountant and it’s perhaps no coincidence that his journey to full on capitalist seemed to coincide with the disintegration of the label. But somehow Tankard fought their corner, and this record sounds magnificent in comparison to everything else here.

For a start it’s more Metal than Thrash and this comes first and foremost from the fact that Geremia has completely abandoned his forced high end screams. They were a source of frustration for me earlier, as although distinctive they lacked range and variety, but here he barely uses them and proves he actually has a lot more range than anyone suspected. This is a massive shame, as some of that tonal variety would have gone a long way to making some of the previous albums more varied and interesting. Added to which the guitar interplay seems to have stepped up technically by a couple of notches, there’s some folk instruments thrown into the mix on occasions and although it doesn’t sound like a Tankard record at all, it’s actually a thoroughly enjoyable Metal disk and a nice surprise to finish on. The problem for Tankard is that by this point in 1996, Thrash was officially dead and I suspect with Grunge, Punk crossovers and Alternative holding court very much in their minds, they decided to try something a little different. Obviously at the time it went nowhere, but Tankard got to live to tell the tale all these decades later.

They also got to have fun and whilst the rest of the world was treating Green Day or The Offspring’s version of commercially diluted and safe for America “punk” like the best thing since sliced bread, Tankard also squeezed out the “Aufgetankt” album under a Germanic version of their moniker. The nine tracks here are all cover versions of Neue Deutsche Welle German language Punk staples, done Tankard fashion. The speed and energy go right back to their roots, with the benefit of the later incarnation of the band having all the tricks of a decent studio, instrumental prowess and a singer who has learned to use his gifts. To put in context it does exactly what Guns ‘N’ Roses completely failed to do with “The Spaghetti Incident?” and nod to their musical roots whilst showing off how polished the band had now become. It’s a fascinating coda to this set and worth trawling through the previous seven hours to see how their journey took them to this point. 

This set stops as Noise International fizzled out as a commercial entity. In many ways that was a shame, but they are part of a landscape of independent labels that took on and beat the majors at their own game and totally changed the musical landscape and without them and their peers the world over Thrash would never have made it out of the underground. At seven and a half hours of runtime, this introduction to Tankard for me has felt like trying to run a marathon without the benefit of any training, but I’m grateful for the chance to finally get to hear a band that have a key part in the story of a musical genre that somehow passed me by. Despite the fact that a lot of the material is quite repetitive in tone and hampered by some appalling production in the early days, the experience is overall a positive one. Tankard of course survived the collapse of Noise and have been cranking out albums ever since, and seeing them live is now officially on my bucket list … as long as the bucket has beer in it, or course…


Zombie Attack
01. Zombie Attack
02. Acid Death
03. Mercenary
04. Maniac Forces
05. Alcohol
06. (Empty) Tankard
07. Thrash Till Death
08. Chains
09. Poison
10. Screamin’ Victim

Chemical Invasion
01. Intro
02. Total Addiction
03. Tantrum
04. Don’t Panic
05. Puke
06. For A Thousand Beers 
07. Chemical Invasion 
08. Farewell To A Slut 
09. Traitor
10. Alcohol
11. Outro

The Morning After / Alien EP 
01. Intro
02. Commandments
03. Shit-Faced
04. TV Hero
05. F.U.N.
06. Try Again
07. The Morning After
08. Desperation
09. Feed The Lohocla
10. Help Yourself
11. Mon Cheri
12. Outro
13. Alien
14. 666 Packs
15. Live To Dive
16. Remedy
17. (Empty) Tankard

The Meaning Of Life
01. Open All Night
02. We Are Us
03. Dancing On Our Grave
04. Mechanical Man
05. Beermuda
06. The Meaning Of Life
07. Space Beer
08. Always Them
09. Wheel Of Rebirth
10. Barfly
11. Wonderful Life (Bonus Track)

Stone Cold Sober
01. Jurisdiction
02. Broken Image
03. Mindwild
04. Ugly Beauty
05. Centerfold
06. Behind The Back
07. Stone Cold Sober
08. Blood, Guts & Rock ‘n’ Roll
09. Lost And Found (Tantrum Part 2)
10. Sleeping With The Past
11. Freibier
12. Of Strange People Talking Under Arabian Skies
13. Outro
14. Don’t Panic
15. 666Packs
16. Shit-Faced

01. Death Penalty
02. R.T.V.
03. Betrayed
04. Nation Over Nation
05. Days Of The Gun
06. Cities In Flames
07. Up From Zero
08. Two-Faced
09. Ich Brauch’ Meinen Suff
10. Cyberworld
11. Mainhattan
12. Jimmy B. Bad
13. Space Beer

The Tankard / Tankwart “Aufgetankt”
01. Grave New World
02. Minds On The Moon
03. The Story Of Mr. Cruel
04. Poshor Golovar
05. Mess In The West
06. Atomic Twilight
07. Fuck Christmas
08. Positive
09. Hope?
10. Liebesspieler
11. Pogo In Togo
12. Hurra, Hurra, Die Schule Brennt
13. Herr D.
14. Sternenhimmel
15. König Von Deutschland
16. Elke
17. Skandal Im Sperrbezirk
18. Billiger Slogan

Andreas “Gerre” Geremia – Vocals
Frank Thorwarth – Bass 
Oliver Werner – Drums (1982–1989)
Arnulf Tunn – Drums (1989–1994)
Olaf Zissel – Drums (1994–present)
Axel Katzmann – Guitars (1982–1993)
Andy Bulgaropulos – Guitars (1983–1999)


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Skid Row – The Atlantic Years 

Skid Row The Atlantic Years Album Cover Art

Skid Row – The Atlantic Years 
Release Date: 03/12/21
Running Time: 3:16:33
Review by Simon Black
Skid Row – 9/10
Slave to the Grind – 10/10
B-Side Ourselves – 6/10
Subhuman Race – 2/10
Subhuman Beings on Tour!! – 4/10
Overall – 7/10

Just in time for Christmas, its celebratory box set time again. This time I’ve got both the rise and fall of one of the most influential Metal acts to emerge from the fag end of the 1980’s in one five disk set. To be fair the tag line to this box set probably ought to be “You’re never too big to open for Kiss”…

There was a time when I was a lot younger, that this band seemed unstoppable, Having emerged out of left field with their debut “Skid Row”; an album that despite having one foot very firmly in the commercial sound of the eighties, was also a little more edgy in its delivery, had a beautiful full fat and rich sound, and some of the most distinctively anthemic tunes anyone had heard in a while. This is why ’18 And Life’, ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and ‘I Remember You’ continue to drop up on TV and movie soundtracks to this day. But despite having some of the most radio friendly set of singles of the entire decade, there was also something different about these guys. For a commercial act, you could still hear a little of that down-tuned heaviness that, up to that point, had largely been the territory of the Thrash end of the spectrum even on this debut, but yet with a frontman with a set of lungs on him gifted to very few on this earth. The world (and more importantly for the time, MTV) thought so too, and these fellows rapidly found themselves flying around the world with some spectacular opening slots for the likes of Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, guaranteeing that when they made it to Europe for smaller shows they did it as headliners from the get go. 

And from then on upwards and upwards was their trajectory.

The sophomore “Slave To The Grind” wasn’t so much a follow up as a sledgehammer in the face. The down-tuned heaviness, just hinted at on their debut, was now a full on force of nature which, from the opening bars of the seminal ‘Monkey Business’, proved that this was not a band to do things by halves. For my money this is the definitive Skid Row album, with not a bad track on it and a band that now had not only the confidence to play it their way (because let’s face it the more commercial sound from 1989 almost certainly came at the label’s insistence). Being taken round the world with Guns ’N’ Roses at their peak meant that everyone else got to find that out too, and with the band headlining arenas in their own right, it seemed like the world was their oyster.

Then Grunge happened.

Personally I think that the heavier sounding second album and its huge momentum would probably have allowed them to keep snowballing upwards (albeit perhaps more slowly), but they chose to instead listen to manager Doc McGhee and take a long hiatus to ride the new upstart musical movement out, which is where the filler release of “B-Side Ourselves” comes in. The tracks on here were all B sides from the ‘Slave’ sessions. At five tracks it’s clearly a contract placeholder and it did little for them at the time, as around them the musical landscape was changing permanently. I heard them all at the time, as in those days I used to get nice vinyl 12” single releases from East West / Atlantic. This was so much of a stop gap cost cutter that the label didn’t even send out DJ copies on the grounds we already had the material on the 12” releases, but with hindsight this was the beginning of the end.

When “Subhuman Race” was finally released in 1995, its initial sales success was almost entirely based on expectation of continuity of service, but this was miniscule to the success they had previously enjoyed. We could not have been more disappointed. McGhee’s bum advice had continued to lead them in the wrong direction, with a release that was desperately trying to say “Hey, we can play Grunge too”. They couldn’t, and more importantly they shouldn’t and should have stuck to their big guns.

First off, there was none of the fat, rich, deep and heavy sound that made them so distinctive. Instead the whole thing sounds flat and lacklustre and worse still, cheap. I remember watching them at a half empty Waldorf Astoria in London, wondering what the hell had happened to such a promising band. A desperate Bach asked the thin crowd if we liked the new album, and getting little in the way of a positive response, pointed out that he really busted his voice on recording that one. But then Bach pushing his voice down and gravelly to follow the trend of the day ultimately ended up falling flat on his face, and was a complete waste of one of the best singers of the time (although ironically he probably finds it easier to hit those notes these days since he seems to have joined the Vince Neil school of Youth Gone Old). 

What followed was the inevitable downward slide, and a parting of the ways, when Bach threw the towel in after Sabo allegedly cancelled a support slot for the reforming Kiss that Bach had previously confirmed. Had they done that slot they would have been playing stadia to a receptive crowd and ridden the period out (although ironically they did end up supporting Kiss a few years later, but not to anything like the same size audiences as that Kiss and Make Up reunion had offered).

The coda to the box set is a short EP of live tracks from their Subhuman Tour, but it’s all over by now, and this is clearly intended to deliver on contractual commitments with the label. It’s worthwhile to note that only one track from that ill-chosen studio album made it to this disk, so everyone had clearly got the message on that fateful (and indeed, awful) third studio release. That saves it from the doldrums, as whilst playing their stronger material rather than trying to sound like they had relocated to Seattle, the Skids were totally in their zone even then. From the sound of the recording though, you can tell they are playing much smaller venues, and when you exclude the padding track of the band telling everyone in the Japanese market how wonderful they are, is really a marker of just how far they had fallen after their meteoric rise. 

When they were good, they were very, very good but when they were bad, they were horrid.

What happened in later years, with a revolving door of players and singers, to be honest has not even registered on my radar, as frankly Skid Row to me begins and ends with the line-up that cut these disks. This is simultaneously heart-warming and depressing, with the first three disks on here representing that even in an age when Metal had become dangerously formulaic, that an act could still come out of the back stalls and punch their way to the top of the musical totem pole. 

Equally it shows that a couple of ill thought out management decisions have the capacity to utterly destroy a career.

Skid Row
01. Big Guns
02. Sweet Little Sister
03. Can’t Stand the Heartache
04. Piece of Me
05. 18 and Life
06. Rattlesnake Shake
07. Youth Gone Wild
08. Here I Am
09. Makin’ a Mess
10. I Remember You
11. Midnight / Tornado

Slave to the Grind
01. Monkey Business
02. Slave to the Grind
03. The Threat
04. Quicksand Jesus
05. Psycho Love
06. Get the Fuck Out
07. Livin’ on a Chain Gang
08. Creepshow
09. In a Darkened Room
10. Riot Act
11. Mudkicker
12. Wasted Time

B-Side Ourselves
01. Psycho Therapy
02. Little Wing
03. C’mon and Love Me
04. What You’re Doing
05. Delivering the Goods (Live)

Subhuman Race
01. My Enemy
02. Firesign
03. Bonehead
04. Beat Yourself Blind
05. Eileen
06. Remains to be Seen
07. Subhuman Race
08. Frozen
09. Into Another
10. Face Against My Soul
11. Medicine Jar
12. Breakin’ Down
13. Iron Will

Subhuman Beings on Tour!!
01. Slave To The Grind (Live)
02. Delivering The Goods (Live)
03. Beat Yourself Blind (Live)
04. Psycho Therapy (Live)
05. Riot Act (Live)
06. Monkey Business (Live)
07. Thanks

Sebastian Bach – Vocals
Dave ‘The Snake’ Sabo – Guitar
Scotti Hill – Guitar
Rachel Bolan – Bass
Rob Affuso – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Overkill – The Atlantic Years 1986 – 1994

The Atlantic Years Album Cover Art

Overkill – The Atlantic Years 1986 – 1994
Release Date: 03/12/21
Running Time: 05:12:02
Review by Simon Black
Taking Over – 8/10
Under The Influence – 7/10
The Years Of Decay – 9/10
Horrorscope – 9/10
I Hear Black – 6/10
W.F.O. – 5/10
Overall – 8/10

Overkill are one of those Thrash acts that at the time barely registered on my radar. Even though they paid their dues in Europe (unlike a few of their peers). But the reality was they were very much part of the USA scene, particularly the East Coast and never achieved anything like the same level of success as some of their contemporaries. Like many acts who have struggled across the decades, Overkill have been plagued by line up stability issues. We can sit here and debate cause and effect if you like, but it’s a matter of personal viewpoint as to whether the lack of success caused the instability, or vice versa, however the reality is the two frequently fly together. 

That said, this box set covers the prolific period when Overkill and their ilk carved their niche, and for my money cut their best material, before the changing musical landscape of the 90’s kicked everything into touch for all but the established stadium players. It doesn’t include their Metal Blade debut ‘Feel The Fire’ but covers the three seminal (and then the three slightly less seminal) albums that followed it. My exposure to their back catalogue had been quite sparse to date, as I only really began to be aware of them with 1989’s ‘The Years of Decay’ so I was hearing most of the records in this set in full for the first time.

“Taking Over” really feels like a debut album, even though it isn’t. Like so many Thrash acts getting a major label debut at the time, it was very much done on the cheap, with studio time no doubt grabbed in graveyard shifts with huge amounts of time pressure. As is often the case when that happened, the pressure of this added no small amount of energy to proceedings and despite the relatively poor production standards compared to what follows in this edition, it has fire and energy in abundance. At this stage they are still playing as a four piece as well, but despite that, the sound has richness and depth in spite of the garage feel of production. I would argue that they still have their Speed Metal roots a little more visible here – tracks like ‘Fear His Name’ definitely fit in that more traditional Metal vein and show Bobby Blitz as being more than capable of carrying a tune in the higher register as he had yet to adopt the more Thrashy snarling style that became his trademark later on.

When we get to “Under The Influence”, that move to straight out Thrash is coming out loud and clear. The tunes sound more down tuned and heavy and the oodles of reverb on display last time out are gone for good. Equally the arrangements have that more staccato Thrash feel to them and the vocals are following suit, although Bltz can still hit a high note or two when required. This is raw and energetic Thrash of the finest order, stripped back and overflowing with aggression. Unfortunately, this is also where the line-up challenges start to bite, with founding drummer Rat Skates having parted way in between album cycles.

“Years of Decay” is probably the most definitive of the albums to date here though. Changing producers for the first time, the band manages to capture a solid mixture of the raw energy that makes them tick, and with some vastly improved production values. Not only that, but the band are starting to get a little more technical with their arrangements and time changes. There are some quite lengthy pieces on here to boot – most notably the title track, and the Sabbath infused ‘Playing With Spiders/Skullcrusher’, but then splicing two songs together that share a key and a time signature to make one big one is an old trick. The big change is that this is the first time Overkill achieve that elusive ‘whole album feel’. Thrash with its focus on Speed and energy frequently meant songs with a short sharp delivery and duration, and their early albums certainly exhibit this. This one feels like a lot more time has been taken to craft an album that is intended to be listened to end to end, with only their classic floor filler ‘Elimination’ feeling out of place here. This was certainly the point when for me Overkill stepped up beyond from the melee of acts this movement offered into the second tier, biting at the heels of the Big Four of the day.

By the time we get to “Horrorscope” (which was released fairly quickly after “Decay”) an awful lot has changed. Founding guitarist Bobby Gustafson has parted on bad terms and was replaced with not one but two six-stringers in the form of Merritt Gant and Rob Cannavino. This really adds something to the sound – with two players able to throw in the depth of sound of having dedicated rhythm and lead when required, plus the old standby of the harmonised riff, but suddenly this doesn’t quite feel like Overkill any more. Maybe it’s just the teething troubles of running in new players, or maybe it’s the more lavish production, but the polish this adds for me feels like something more immediate and dangerous has been lost. This is frustrating, as the technical delivery here is quite something else – take the razor sharp timing from the rhythm section on ‘Blood Money’ – it’s absolutely spot on and a complete contrast to the edgy chaos of “Under The Influence”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s their most polished effort yet, but in many ways as I started listening I found myself initially preferring the looseness of their early days. Vocally though Blitz seems to have successfully melded the Thrash with his considerable cleaner vocal skills in the right balance, and that’s here to stay. By the time we get to the end though, my rites of passage are over and I’m finding myself falling a little bit in love with this record.

“I Hear Black” sees yet another change in direction and unfortunately one that falls somewhat flat on its face. No doubt under major label pressure to emulate what was coming out of the Seattle scene, we see Overkill attempting to strip their delivery down to the detriment of quality. The trouble is it sounds less like Grunge and more like something a Stoner act would do and Bobby Blitz’s voice sounds completely out of place here. Although to be honest the return of producer Alex Perialas to the fold brings back some of the more immediate and energetic feel that had been polished out of their sound in the two intervening albums, but it can’t recover from the completely bum steer that the song writing has taken. It’s a massive own goal and one that the market concurred with, as at a time when evolving musical styles were creating commercial pressures, they should have stuck with their more distinctive  and pure Thrashy roots and ridden out the storm.

And to be fair that’s exactly what they did next with “W.F.O.”, which from the opening bars screams their return to their natural state, but sadly somehow this doesn’t feel like it’s going to go anywhere. The sound is flat and Blitz sounds completely off of his game, with songs that meander and fail to grab the attention. To be fair, it may show a return to the Thrashy style of yore on the surface, but it’s completely missing the energy or integrity and the songs just ain’t in the same league. 

The trouble is it’s a direction change that’s come too late and simply isn’t convincing in its delivery as the twin guitarists depart simultaneously and the label decides it’s time to drop the dead donkey. Overkill will lick their wounds, regroup and slowly regain and rebuild their credibility as the 90’s wind down and people start remembering them for their significant contribution to a style that totally revolutionised music, and swept away the old order, before ironically having the same thing happened to them with the next big new thing on the block. But these albums beautifully chart the rise and fall of a movement that literally reshaped Metal, and a band that were absolutely at the forefront of that.

Taking Over
01. Deny the Cross
02. Wrecking Crew
03. Fear His Name
04. Use Your Head
05. Fatal if Swallowed
06. Powersurge
07. In Union We Stand
08. Electro-Violence
09. Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues)

Under The Influence
01. Shred
02. Never Say Never
03. Hello from the Gutter
04. Mad Gone World
05. Brainfade
06. Drunken Wisdom
07. End of the Line
08. Head First
09. Overkill III (Under the Influence)

The Years Of Decay
01. Time to Kill
02. Elimination
03. I Hate
04. Nothing to Die For
05. Playing with Spiders/Skullkrusher
06. Birth of Tension
07. Who Tends the Fire
08. The Years of Decay
09. E.vil N.ever D.ies

01. Coma
02. Infectious
03. Blood Money
04. Thanx for Nothin’
05. Bare Bones
06. Horrorscope
07. New Machine
08. Frankenstein” (Edgar Winter; instrumental
09. Live Young, Die Free
10. Nice Day… for a Funeral
11. Soulitude

I Hear Black
01. Dreaming in Columbian
02. I Hear Black
03. World of Hurt
04. Feed My Head
05. Shades of Grey
06. Spiritual Void
07. Ghost Dance
08. Weight of the World
09. Ignorance and Innocence
10. Undying
11. Just Like You

01. Where It Hurts
02. Fast Junkie
03. The Wait/New High in Lows
04. They Eat Their Young
05. What’s Your Problem
06. Under One
07. Supersonic Hate
08. R.I.P.
09. Up to Zero
10. Bastard Nation
11. Gasoline Dream

Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth – Vocals
Bobby Gustafson – Guitars
Merritt Gant – Guitars
Rob Cannavino – Guitars
D. D. Verni – Bass
Rat Skates – Drums 
Sid Falck  – Drums
Tim Mallare – Drums


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