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Released: 1999, CMC International Records
I still remember the first time I heard Overkill. It was a cold and crappy day in early 1989 and my family and I were having dinner at a relative's house. I excused myself from the table so I could watch MuchMusic's "Power Hour"(a metal video show which has since been canceled). About halfway into the program, it was announced that Overkill would be aired following a commercial break. "Overkill?" I thought, "Who the hell is that?" After a few ads for items ranging from softdrinks to tampons, the show resumed... And I was utterly taken aback! It was the video for "Hello From the Gutter" and never before had I heard such an amazing amalgamation of aggression and melody. Little did I know that I was about to leave glam metal behind and take my first steps down the "dark path". After that, I anticipated each new release with an enthusiasm surpassed only by that of a Judas Priest album. But as we all know, things can change quite a bit in ten years.
Ever since the departure of guitarists Merritt Gant and Rob Cannavino in 1995, the quality of Overkill's music has gone down considerably. 1996's The Killing Kind was a huge disappointment compared to its predecessor W.F.O. And its follow-up, From the Underground and Below wasn't all that great an improvement. I still don't know if the change in direction was a conscious decision by vocalist Bobby Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni (the core members of Overkill) or if Gant and Cannavino's replacements Joe Comeau and Sebastian Marino just weren't the right guys for the job. Personally, I hope it's the latter since it was recently announced that Marino has left the band and that Comeau and drummer Tim Mallare are leaving after the Necroshine tour.
So when Necroshine was released, my feelings were less than enthusiastic. In fact, I was even a little apprehensive about buying it, and understandably so. The previous two CD's were nothing to get excited over, Comeau and Marino were once again involved in the writing process, and I'd heard a couple of Real Audio clips for "Revelation" and the title track which didn't sound too promising. Though I must concede, "Revelation" turned out to be a pretty good song after all. The title track however, doesn't fare so well...
"Necroshine" begins with a noisy, melody-less intro ala Korn/Marilyn Manson/Nine Inch Nails, and from there kicks into a double-bass driven riff which sounds really cool... For about 25 seconds. Then it turns into a hardcore style debacle. On the upside, not all of the songs are like this. Unfortunately, with every upside there's also a downside. "Let Us Prey" isn't a bad song, but it comes straight from the Black Sabbath school of song writing. The opening riff to "Forked Tongue Kiss" sounds way too much like "Just Like You" from 1993's I Hear Black. And "Stone Cold Jesus" and "Dead Man" suffer from the additional shouted vocals of Joe Comeau. I'm assuming it's Comeau but I could be wrong. D.D. Verni also contributes vocally, but this style of vocals didn't appear on any Overkill albums until AFTER Comeau joined. (Guess they were trying to appease him since he used to be the lead singer of Liege Lord.)
Overall, Necroshine is an improvement over their previous two efforts. But Overkill still has some work ahead of them if they wish to create music that compares to their 1991 and 1994 masterpieces Horrorscope and W.F.O. The first smart move toward reaching that goal would be to move their base of operations out of the New York area to get away from the negative hardcore influence which has been creeping its way into their music. And second, when the time comes to hire new band members, hire REAL metal musicians. Then, and only then, will they be able to avoid falling into the trappings of the hardcore scene.
And Bobby,... D.D.,... If you should happen to read this... I've been playing guitar for thirteen years, can write decent metal tunes, and will pay my own way to an audition. I just need a little time to improve my playing skills since I don't practice much anymore (See Sinner review for reasons why.). Come on... Save a metalhead from a hick town! I'm serious! Contact Metal-Rules if you're interested. Until then...
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