Over the course of 15 albums and a 30-year career, Overkill have proven time and time again that they’re one of the most relentlessly enduring bands in thrash metal. While modern bands have been taking metal into an increasingly esoteric direction, Ironbound shows that sometimes the old ways are the best ways. While the album may not have any studio trickery or meandering prog epics, what it does deliver is a dose of old-fashioned, full-speed-ahead thrash. With a classic combination of crunchy riffage backed by a furious double-bass drum stampede, Overkill delivers straightforward metal aggression without any neo-classical or prog pretensions. On the titular “Ironbound,” guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer deliver a massive, chugging riff that manages to be intense without ever indulging in meat-headed aggression. Another high point is Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s singing. Even after 30 years and an unfortunate stroke, Ellsworth’s voice is clear and dominant, giving him a commanding presence amongst the excellent guitar work. To be clear, Ironbound isn’t a boldly experimental work or a masterpiece of unfiltered musical virtuosity, and a younger generation of metal fan might not be able to fully appreciate what it represents. What it is, however, is a snapshot of one of the few old-school thrash bands that has actually gotten better with time rather than collapsing under the weight of their own success/excess, giving the listener a look at one of the original heavy hitters of metal who are still at the top of their game and only getting heavier.
by Gregory Heaney