Overkill

Wrecking Everything -- Live

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Lineups change, trends come and go, lead singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth has surgery for skin cancer, and, in an unrelated incident, falls flat on-stage in Germany (a minor stroke; full recovery expected), and Overkill still marches on. So when a long-standing, working-class band has -- count 'em -- 11 studio records, a classic EP, a covers album, and a double-live opus under their studded belt, metal aficionados have to at least give Wrecking Everything -- Live a couple of listens and nod their heads in respect to such a wily, stubborn outfit. Longtime fans will no doubt appreciate the fact that none of the songs utilized for 1995's Wrecking Your Neck are repeated here, Overkill having arguably their most prolific period (four rock-solid studio cinderblocks) since then. But Wrecking Everything -- Live still harkens back to 1985 with "Overkill" and includes choice nuggets from eight albums in the catalog, standouts being muscular riff monster "Long Time Dyin'," speed demon "Shred," and nefarious tempo-shifter "Evil Never Dies"; only the long-winded pseudo-ballad "The Years of Decay" sounds extraneous and dated. Otherwise, it's balls-out thrash from start to finish, recorded in the band's New Jersey stomping grounds and enhanced by a gutsy, clean, and powerful mix that makes Wrecking Your Neck sound thin and tinny in comparison. And one can't ignore Ellsworth's ever-strong vocal contributions -- gotta love that brutal, three-packs-a-day rasp -- and undeniable energy; fans who have witnessed Overkill live can attest to the wiry singer's sweaty, non-stop, Iggy Pop-like stage presence, something impossible to catch strictly on audio, but here at least in spirit. Shrugging off Wrecking Everything -- Live as inessential (what? Yet another Overkill disc?) is tempting, but this punchy and aggressive live document makes the ever-tenacious outfit sound as if they have something to prove -- which few outfits with 18 years in the biz so convincingly possess. [Note: Wrecking Everything -- Live was also recorded for subsequent video release.]

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