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Overkill: RELIXIV

2005 marks the twenty-year anniversary of Overkill's debut album, Feel the Fire. Relixiv is supposedly their fourteenth studio album including their two EP's released in 1988 and 1995. Their new album finds the band expanding on their style displayed on Killbox 13, and the lineup remains the same with D.D. Verni on bass, Blitz on vocals, Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer on guitars, and Tim Mallare on drums. The music, however, slightly differs from their previous effort. This one has better sound quality and a more crisp production. Blitz's vocals are very well balanced in the mix and the guitars have good tone. D.D.Verni's bass is always fresh and pounding. The drums, while played forcefully, are a bit dry for my liking, but they don't take away from the quality of the record.

Overkill stopped playing pure Thrash Metal over a decade ago. It seems like some fans still want them to go back to their roots and abandon their current groove metal approach. If they expect to hear this on Relixiv, it may be a big disappointment. This is still very groovy throughout, with little to no thrash riffs whatsoever. That said, there are brief thrash moments to be heard on a few tracks, but none of them are completely thrash-oriented. "A Pound of Flesh", the shortest number on the album, sees the band playing speed riffs decorated with nice thrash riffing, but that's about it. The other songs are more experimental. "Within Your Eyes" and "Bats in the Belfry" stand out after several spins. Contrary to many fans, I happen to love the long intro build-up on the album's opening track, "Within Your Eyes". The drumming sounds a little flat, but there's a great groove that carries the tune displaying an infectious vocal performance by Blitz.

As strange as it may sound, I think D.D. Verni's subtle phrasing of his bass is evocative of his work in The Bronx Casket Co. The main bass riff on "Bats in the Belfry" right before the melodic guitar section, the rhythmic groove on "Keeper" and the atmospheric outro on "The Mark" all seem very Bronx Casket-ish to these ears. This is a much welcome change in Overkill's sound, as I'm all for musical evolution. D.D. Verni also does some back-up vocals on this track.

Sadly, the album is far from perfect. Some of the arrangements are mediocre at best. "Love" has these acapella- like vocal harmonies sung over simple AC/DC-like guitar riffs. The song does introduce an interesting breakdown in the middle though. The same thing applies to "Wheelz" (not a very good songtitle in my opinion) where you can hear a cool mid-section. Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer provide solid guitar solos, particularly on "Loaded Rack" and "The Mark". The 50-minute album closes with "Old School" -- a humourous punk track, as its title suggests. Overall, Relixiv is a good album, and worth picking up for any Overkill fan, as long as they don't expect another Horrorscope or The Years of Decay.

Track Listing
1. Within Your Eyes (6:05)
2. Love (5:40)
3. Loaded Rack (4:43)
4. Bats in the Belfry (4:47)
5. A Pound of Flesh (3:37)
6. Keeper (5:12)
7. Wheelz (5:10)
8. The Mark (5:54)
9. Play the Ace (5:32)
10. Old School (3:51)

Added: May 14th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Overkill Website
Hits: 4757
Language: english

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Overkill: RELIXIV
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-05-14 07:10:39
My Score:

Overkill is one of those Metal bands who have been able to withstand the tests of time as far as the music industry is concerned. Veterans to the Thrash Metal genre and Legends among their peers these NY/NJ natives have proven time and time again the level of quality and dedication that they have to their craft. For twenty years they have delivered a neck wrecking Thrashing to a legion of diehard Metal heads who show up in throngs to each and every performance. The new album of ReliXIV takes their 14th recording to a slightly different level. After so many years of straight ahead Thrash Metal adventures, this album leans more towards a grinding Heavy Metal vibe. Instead of blazing through it all the guys allow that a little slower head banging can be done as they mix their classic style elements into a more traditional Metal based album. Of all bands they deserve the right to experiment a little bit and after 14 albums loaded with influential songs it's nice to see that they can change course and still deliver. Core members and founders Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (vocals) and D.D. Verni (bass) still run the machine and drive the course of their brand without fail. Tim Mallare (drummer for some years) along with Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer (both on guitars) deliver a different level of shredding and thrashing for the fans to absorb. Songs like "Pound Of Flesh" and "The Mark" have the classic Overkill feel to them, but "Within Your Eyes" and "Love" are totally out of the normal expectation that the fans might have of their idols. The homage to their past shines on the closing track "Old School" which lines out the bands philosophy on their beginnings and also holds a little respect to their early Punk Rock roots. I really enjoyed the fun spirited nature of this track.

So here is where your decision comes in, do you accept change and difference in the bands you enjoy or do they need to remain as you remembered them from the very beginning? If you agree that the only constant is change then you can accept the different sounds that the band gives us here. If you cannot, then you should buy it anyway out of support of your idols. There is some fun and interesting stuff here and I am sure Overkill shall return to give a proper thrashing once again very soon.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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