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The Electric Age

Nuclear Blast (2012)
Rating: 9/10

The resurgence of thrash in the last few years has renewed interest in not only ‘The Big Four’ but also in some of the genre’s ‘also rans’. Back in the 80s there were plenty of bands snapping at the heels of Anthrax, Slayer and co, but they never quite made it to those dizzy arena-playing heights. Testament probably came the closest, but of all the other bands from that era Overkill have probably been the most consistent, churning out chug-tastic slabs throughout the 90s and the 00s when thrash was a dirty word (despite chart success from Machine Head, Sepultura and Pantera).

The Electric Age is the New Jersey quintet’s 16th album in an amazing 32-year career, and although the band’s early roots lie in punk, their thrash dynamic that they have come to be renowned for is as present in 2012 as it was in 1985. And with the opening one-two of ‘Come And Get It’ and ‘Electric Rattlesnake’ ramming the point home, it’s quite evident that this may well already be a serious contender for album of the year. ‘Come And Get It’ in particular, with its Euro-style power metal sing-along chanting, looks set to be a live favourite and picks up from where the awesome previous effort, Ironbound, left off.

The album plays to the band’s strengths perfectly; Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s screeching vocal attack bringing melody and anthemic choruses to the fore, backed by frantic speed-metal riffing and D.D. Verni’s trademark bass sound binding it all together. In essence, Overkill’s sound has changed little over the decades, but their knack of writing a strong tune laden with hooks always lets them stand out from the crowd, and knowing when exactly to put their foot down on the accelerator in the right places ensures the album flows along and doesn’t overload the listener with a full-on thrash attack.

Some songs scrape the six-minute mark, but rather than seeming drawn out the riffs are given room to breathe and evolve, which is particularly evident in ‘Drop The Hammer Down’. ‘Old Wounds, New Scars’ starts with a Kreator-style riff, before the album closes on a high with the ominous-sounding ‘Good Night’.

Overkill may not be in the same league as the likes of Megadeth, but with The Electric Age they’ve proven that it may not be record sales that cement their place in metal history, but rather unleashing consistently solid albums. And after three decades of wrecking necks, that can’t be a bad thing at all.

Neil Not