Overkill, New Jersey masters of thrash metal mayhem are back with an awesome new album called Scorched. They plan to drop this bundle of napalm joy on April 14th via Nuclear Blast Records. It is hard to believe, but this is Overkill’s 20th thrash-tastic album. In case you are new to the band, Overkill is Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (vocals), D.D. Verni (bass), Dave Linsk (lead guitar), Derek Tailer (rhythm guitar), and Jason Bittner (drums).
The title track “Scorched” has an anthemic beginning with a repeating single-note guitar riff that flows into percussive and explosive bass and drums. This mid-paced tune is packed with crunchy riffs and foot-stomping beats. From this opener, you get a sense that this album is special. The snarling sound reflects the aggression Overkill has captured on this album. Having been a fan since Taking Over in ‘87, I feel that Scorched is their best album to date.
The opening track also sets the tone in terms of production. The drum and bass sound is extraordinary. D.D. has always had a killer bass tone, but it blows my mind on this recording. The sound is punchy and tight making every track resonate hard and heavy. We all know that Jason Bittner is a beast behind the kit and his work on this album is phenomenal. The tone from the snare and toms is superb. The angular guitar solo from Dave Linsk adds great tension to this track as well.
The next track called “Goin’ Home” instantly induced visions of a live Overkill show with fists in the air and heads thrashing and swirling. The chorus is extremely infectious. Bobby’s vocals are terrific, projecting malicious force as only he can.
“The Surgeon” is monstrous. It has a pummeling thrash beat upon which the guitars create an atmosphere of high anxiety, fear, and malevolence. Derek and Dave’s guitars are in perfect timing as they tear into this song. A flourish of double bass leads to a thunderous breakdown where the kick drum and bass guitar sound like they are breaking down a door. Linksy’s blistering solo keeps the tension high.
The intro to “Twist Of The Wick” casts an ominous veil of dread. The next thing you know, all hell breaks loose. Jason unleashes a double bass hell-storm upon which the guitars rage. Bobby’s high-end shrieks capture the panic as the powerless witness the coming evil. The impending evil is manifested in the bridge with marching drums, church bells, and chanting vocals. There is a nifty chord sequence which provides a bedding for another fantastic guitar solo before seamlessly returning to the overall theme of the tune. This is one of the best tracks on the album.
Overkill hits a deadly groove on “Wicked Place”. The chugging riffs are catchy and powerful. The bridge slows the pace a bit before returning to the stomping riff. The pace quickens at the midpoint of the tune with D.D’s bellicose bass storming into the center. The cello at the end of this one is a nice touch.
I really enjoyed the old-school new wave of British heavy metal vibe on “Won’t Be Coming Back”. The riffs are straight up and mid-paced, yet very catchy. It should be mentioned that Overkill has done a great job with the guitar tone which is a gleaming razor running hot with electric current. This tune could definitely become a live-show anthem.
Overkill channels a bit of Black Sabbath on the eerily weird “Fever”. Bobby’s clean vocals remind me of Ozzy on the first Sabbath album. In the chorus the mood shifts into brutality with massive down-tuned guitars. Then the song shifts moods again becoming a more fist-to-the-face rocker while retaining all the deep low-end crush.
The bullet train explodes from the station on “Harder They Fall”. This is a classic thrasher from Overkill. Certainly, this tune will become part of the Overkill live show as it is guaranteed to insight violence.
“Know Her Name” is a jaw-clenching banger with interesting lyrical content. This song seems to suggest that people lost in fanatical nationalism are killing liberty. While their intentions are to protect, their actions destroy that which they love. Bobby’s scream in the extended bridge captures the frustration of watching the destruction of liberty through division and hate. Overkill wraps up the album with a classic metal tune called “Bag O Bones”. With a hard-hitting bluesy base, it isn’t fancy, but it is effective and fun.
Scorched by Overkill is a firestorm of thrash metal mastery. The music is merciless. Every song is packed with vicious riffs, savage vocals, and absolutely pulverizing rhythm. The music and performances on this album are jaw-dropping and the definition of brutal. You feel the frenzied energy that Overkill delivers on the stage come to life on this album. Scorched is one of the best metal albums of the year and is certainly Overkill’s greatest work to date.