Somehow an improvement on 2017’s not too shabby The Grinding Wheel, The Wings Of War finds Overkill thrashing as hard as ever and delivering yet another stellar album of killer thrash for die-hard fans. There’s little diversity – this is the sound of old-school thrash delivered with primal energy, a punk attitude and a relentless attack which screams in your face with snarling authenticity – but then Overkill have never pretended to be anything than a hardened thrash act with a bounty of raw material at their disposal.
Opening with the refreshing simplicity of the industrial-tinged “Last Man Standing” (Fear Factory will be wishing they composed that intro!), The Wings Of War reveals its finest moments mid-way through. With the haunting intro to “Distortion” heralding a mini-epic which acts as a mid-tempo hammer-blow, “A Mother’s Prayer” then bounces its way through 3 mins of Bobby Blitz’s trademarked shrieks before “Welcome to the Garden State” unleashes its punky ode to their home state of Jersey.
“Bat Shit Crazy” is exactly that; a full force frashin’ from the best in the business and sends you rockin’ and reelin’ back to the halcyon days of 80’s thrash and while elements of groove do seep in on the rousing “Head Of A Pin” and the staccato onslaught of “Out On The Road-Kill”, Overkill rode that 90’s storm particularly well with the likes of I Hear Black, From The Underground And Below and Necroshine all balancing groove and thrash to thrilling effect during the decade that thrash prefers to forget.
When they go for the throat it’s arguable that this is the best Overkill have sounded since the modern classic which was 2010’s Ironbound. This could be attributed to the arrival of drummer Jason Bittner (ex-Shadows Fall, ex-Flotsam and Jetsam,), who seems to have harnessed Blitz and D.D. Verni’s unrivalled knack for embracing melody and malevolence. His work is exhilarating throughout and appears to have de-aged these old Jersey dogs, returning them to a level of power many may have thought long since attainable.
When all is said and done, Overkill are Overkill and they’ve never lost sight of the core values that makes them so beloved by thrash fans around the globe. Instantly recognisable, Overkill know what’s expected of them and they’ve delivered it with levels of energy and commitment which belies a 3 decade existence. Laced with groove, punk and (most importantly) thrash, The Wings Of War is simply another superb metal record from a band with no desire to rest on past glories.
What is crystal clear, is that these Jersey devils are as ferocious and as fired-up as ever.
Is there a more reliable thrash band on the planet? We think not! 8/10