[ALBUM REVIEW] Overkill – The Wings Of War

The Wings of War Tracklist:

Last Man Standing
Believe In The Fight
Head Of A Pin
Bat Shit Crazy
Distortion
A Mother’s Prayer
Welcome To The Garden State
Where Few Dare To Walk
Out On The Road-Kill
Hole In My Soul

 

Reviewed by Casper

Overkill fans of the world, prepare to be thrilled and amazed by the latest collection of thrash anthems from the master of the genre, Overkill.

This album revisits their finest elements from works past but revitalises their sound into a thrilling compilation of evidentiary elements that substantiate how the aging process enhances excellence.  Like a fine vintage wine, Overkill thrills the palate with new sensations based on historical magnificence and style dominance in The Wings Of War.  Not to say that any one person is solely responsible for the ongoing success of group but it must be mentioned that Jason Bittner on drums has provided a very special dynamic to the Overkill sound.  Taking nothing from the rampaging kit reign of Ron Lipnicki, one must reflect that new vigorous and vibrant percussive power must surely have driven Bobby and DD to a greater height of achievement.  Something besides raw brilliance must surely explain how the unsurpassable Grinding Wheel has seen such a superb subsequent release.  Is The Wings Of War better?  Some will reply with a resounding yes while others will counter with the former success but either way, the fact that Overkill can produce such thoroughly compelling, exciting and excellent contemporary collections in indisputable evidence of their mastery and magnificence.  

The title track Last Man Standing could not be more apt and the numbers alone support the band’s decision to release this gem early.  The overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans has your truly genuinely excited for those of such refined thrash palates to devour the collection in its sequenced splendor.  In sequence on the album, this track assumes an entirely new dimension as it’s urgent, alarm-like introduction pulsates into a guitar and drum led call to arms.  Marching into a thrashing track of furious brilliance, the heritage is firmly established while Believe In The Fight takes the reigns and assures you that this album has taken you by the throat and will not release you from the heaving to and fro until you are thoroughly spent.  As you explore such an epic track so early in the collection, regard must be afforded to the astonishingly brilliant kaleidoscope of classic Overkill elements that have been revitalised into something genuinely exciting.  Those who have watched in wonder at live Overkill performances or even been lucky enough to witness Bobby performing of late with metal Allegiance will attest to the formidable performances that have lost not one ounce of finery or ferocity to time and this album is evidence enough that Overkill are entering into a whole new era of production and dominance.   Even if the worst were to happen and perish the thought that Overkill announced this was the final album, this superb collection would be such a brilliant representation of the 19 studio album journey and thirty-nine-year history of the band.  With the ruby reward looming next year, this album leaves me wondering what they could possibly produce to mark the so rarely achieved historic benchmark.  However, in hindsight, I recall reflecting upon similar sentiment subsequent to Grinding Wheel.  With an album as sensational as this hitting the shelves in mere days, the stratosphere obviously represents no limit for Overkill and the sky left dazed in their wake.

Head Of A Pin refrains with a little-refined primer before the beat and Bobby Blitz bringa us back into the fold, but at least there is time to draw breath before Bat Shit Crazy has your head thrashing along in maniacal glee.   This track has more hooks flying than an all in shit fit at the pirate convention before taking you utterly by surprise at about 1 minute 50.  Just sensational.

Distortion is sequenced to absolute perfection as the Wrecking Crew release you from the pummelling for exactly one minute of menacing harmonious bliss.  Like a predator playing with its prey and giving a moment of hopeful dreams of escape, we are left to wonder in the melodies and haunting guitar serenade until the onslaught commences again in earnest.  We the willing prey are left powerless to escape. 

The instant hits continue through mid-album and one becomes concerned that after such a sensational parade of excellence, every up must have a down but when Where Few Dare To Walk eases into you aural canals, those concerns fade into insignificance.  This track is clearly the dream of seasoned masters made manifest in reality with some magnificent production and the result is quite breathtaking. Out On The Road–Kill and the fantastic finale Hole In My Soul bring this collection to a close and the listener left spent in a pummelled, sweating, thrashed heap of bliss with not one mosh left to offer.

The truth as I see it is that no one could have reasonably expected and album half the magnitude of this to follow the phenomenal Grinding Wheel, or that to follow White Devil Armoury, but Overkill continue to amaze in such fashion that Blitz may become Bliss in contemporary times.  With thrashing and furious vocals cutting to your very soul in finest form ever, riffs that will have new generations of guitarists aspiring to replicate for decades to come, beats that will thrill the most avid of fans back to the days of 1980 and material that just keeps shining lyric to lyric, track to track and album to album, it is unavoidable….YOU MUST HAVE THIS ALBUM. For those who are repulsed by the very thought of enjoying such music, you must still have this in your collection as the genuine genre archetypical example and for those who love the dynamic force that is Overkill, prepare for the thrilling ride of your life.  

The very thought that Overkill were able to cast their refined eye over the vast ocean of catalogued material and select the key elements that have them firmly established as pioneers and genre masters, managing to create an album oozing the very essence of Overkill is utterly astonishing.  Yet here it is in The Wings Of War.  A magnum opus…yet again?  Will the brilliance ever end for Overkill and their creative genius?  Here are cheers to “no fucking way”.   Summed up in one word my choice would have to be astonishing.