The New York/New Jersey wrecking crew known as Overkill continues to squeeze one tasty sausage out of the machine after the other, no frills, no baloney, no screwing around, no denying it. Kill Box 13 finds Overkill still stubbornly refusing to shed its thrash roots -- and refusing to write a throwaway tune, for that matter. The combination of the band's stellar riffs and rock-solid arrangements with Colin Richardson's thick, beefy production is a big, juicy steak waiting to be devoured by any self-respecting carnivore metalhead. Singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (That mild stroke he suffered on stage in 2002? Didn't stop him) bleats as if he's backed into a corner, spittle spraying as he screams and yowls through particularly bitter opening potboilers "Devil by the Tail" and "Damned," hair, bile, and blood flying as he wields a torch to stave off the rats plaguing his soul. More bleak melody is dished out on bruisers "No Lights" and "The One," both memorable cuts thanks to gangland-shout choruses and the stellar guitar work of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer (anyone else notice founding members Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni's innate ability to consistently recruit top-notch six-stringers?). As usual, the band's balance of in-the-pocket groove-consciousness ("Crystal Clear") and technical musicianship -- the tempo changes and guitar solos are present, but not indulgent -- give Overkill the undeniable blue-collar street cred that's smart and steely, and deflects any criticism with yet another backcracking riff off the top ropes. Granted, the second half of Kill Box 13 isn't as immediate or effective as the first five cuts (except maybe for closing ripper "I Rise"), but using the adjective "inconsistent" when describing anything the band has ever put its stamp on is wildly off-base, and anyone disagreeing with them is subject to a few kidney shots. Overkill's overall message here? Get the hell out of the way or get squished, no elaboration necessary.
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AllMusic Review by John Serba