Sunday 7 May 2023

ALBUM REVIEW: Overkill, "Scorched"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/04/2023
Label: Nuclear Blast

“Scorched” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1. Scorched
2. Goin’ Home
3. The Surgeon
4. Twist of the Wick
5. Wicked Place
6. Won’t be Comin Back
7. Fever
8. Harder They Fall
9. Know Her Name
10. Bag o’ Bones
The Review:  
Well, Overkill return after their longest ever break between albums- “Wings of War” was 2019! It’s only the pandemic that has led to this situation, and I suspect that the band would have put this out in 2021 or 2022 if they had been able to tour it.
First things first: Colin Richardson has produced and mixed this along with Chris Clancy. It sounds incredible. The bass is percussive and aggressive with D.D Verni taking his rightful place in the mix, the drums are crystal clear and have depth along with attack- Jason Bittner is perfect for the band. The guitars are similarly in-your-face and precise. I realise that Bobby G is most fans choice of favourite Overkill guitarist, but I love the Linsk/Tailer axis even more.  On top of all that, of course, is Bobby Blitz Ellsworth’s instantly identifiable shriek.
Of course, if identifiable sounds and elements made for classic albums then the Rolling Stones and Metallica would be on a never ending winning streak of incredible records… Fortunately, this time around Overkill have focused and delivered the songs along with the sounds. With hindsight, I found “Wings of War” a little over-long and a little directionless in parts. The good songs were great, the album tracks were a little more blunt than usual. “The Grinding Wheel” suffered from a mid-album bloat with too many long songs.
“Scorched” delivers only one song over the six-minute mark and it is a welcome approach. Indeed, with the title track being up first and the longest song on offer, the band immediately announce that they are BACK. It’s a cracking and thrashy opener. “While Goin’ Home” may be the most accessible song here, it’s not one of my favourites as I am here for thrash- as I am on every Overkill record. “The Surgeon” delivers handily as does “Twist of the Wick”.
The band have time for a detour or two as well, such as “Wicked Place”- that delivers the Sabbathian lope that the band have perfected over the years (see also “Spiritual Void” and “Come Heavy”). It’s cool that Overkill continue to be OVERKILL at all times. The song writing is sharp and the band is as hungry as ever. Dave Linsk delivers some mighty lead work throughout and for a bunch of guys who are mostly in their 60s, well, it’s incredible that they still sound like this and that they are still making music with this fire and quality.
It's not all flawless; there are a couple of Overkill-by-numbers tracks; “Won’t Be Comin’ Back” is fine, but no better than that and leans a little too hard on melody- it’s an average Overkill album track, redeemed partially by the solo section. The albums most left-field track is “Fever”. It is a slow burning, moody quasi-ballad. This is the type of Overkill song that I have never really cared for and don’t buy the albums for. I didn’t rate “Bitter Pill” on “White Devil Armory”, I don’t like “Shades of Grey” on “I Hear Black...” the list goes on. On the plus side, it has some unexpected percussion, quiet and loud dynamics and isn’t a bad song per se. It’s just not what I want from an Overkill track. I’d probably rather have a throwaway thrasher than a well-crafted moody song like this one. My loss, I suppose.
Fortunately, “Harder They Fall” redeems the band instantly with a straight ahead rager- fast and furious with plenty of machismo as is expected from the title. Simply put, it is this type of song I’m looking for from the band. Not that they owe me anything at all when they are 20 (!) albums deep into their 43-year career. The chugging riff of “Know Her Name” is also welcome and feels like an old friend. Indeed, between this and the (surprisingly funky and groovey) closing “Bag O’ Bones”, the band don’t put a foot wrong and finish the album in fine style.
Overkill began an incredible run of albums with “Ironbound” in 2010. For me, that one remains their peak (of any era) but “Electric Age” was almost as good. “White Devil Armory”, “The Grind Wheel” and “Wings of War” are all good records- with perhaps a tendency for the quality to drop just a little with each album in release date order. “Scorched” reverses that slight downward trend and brings them back up a notch.
Another year, another great Overkill album. Enjoy them while they are still here as sooner or later- much like Motorhead- they simply won’t be around anymore. This is recommended to all fans of the band, all thrash fans and is as fine a starting point as any for anyone who wonders what the band are all about.
“Scorched” is available now

Band info: Bandcamp || Facebook