Released: 2003, Spitfire Records
Underground thrash metal heroes, OverKill, are back with their 13th studio album and their first studio album for Spitfire Records. KILLBOX 13 follows closely on the heels of their recent live album and DVD WRECKING EVERYTHING LIVE. If you liked the band’s two previous studio album, BLOODLETTING (2000) and NECROSHINE (1999), then this album will also be up your alley. Overkill continues with their heavy groove sound - the product of a thrash band worshipping at the Black Sabbath altar perhaps. The album does have speedy moments but it is really the vocal melodies of Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth and the guitar shredding of lead guitarist David Linsk which puts this one a notch over its predecessor (BLOODLETTING).
“Devil By The Tail” opens the album in fine form. Some of the bass lines on here once again are a clear nod to metal legends, and one of OverKill’s influences, Motörhead. For the most part the song is mid-paced with small bursts of speed. The highlight is the vocals of Blitz, especially on the chorus that is easily one of the most memorable on the album. “Damned” follows this up and is again a mid-paced with a killer groove. “No Lights” continues the pattern of the mid-paced thrash groove with Blitz sounding as good as ever. If you’re not into the slower paced OverKill material, then perhaps this album won’t win you over. I admit I would of loved to hear something like the speedy tracks like “I Hate” and “Elimination” or a song chalk full of riffs like “Evil Never Dies”. Despite the lack of that kind of over the top material, the song writing, vocals melodies, and guitar playing of David Linsk make up for these slight limitations.
For those (like myself) who might be looking for more of the speedy thrash sounds, it is on the album in limited quantities. Around the 3:30 min mark of the track “Crystal Clear” they kick into a killer thrash section that was too short! Guys, don’t be afraid to put the pedal ALL the way down for more than 30 seconds! The 5 min mark of “Until I Die” has a fast part at the very end for like 10 seconds. Now we come to “Struck Down”. This is more like it if you’re looking for the fast shit which I was doing after having the majority of the album being mid-paced. The guitar/bass fills in between each vocal line sound like classic OverKill for sure. If I were organizing the album’s track order, this one would have been closer to the beginning of the CD rather than at the #8 position. The song doesn’t keep the break neck pace all the way through. The solo in this one also stood out for me as well partly because it’s played over punches (bass/guitar/drums) as opposed to a steady rhythm. This track is followed up by another of the albums strong moments – “Unholy” which is also a speedier track on the song’s verses. The intensity is kept up on the album closer “I Rise.” So maybe you ought to listen to the album in reverse order! Ha!
Lyrically, the album has some great lines that are worth reading. According to a recent interview here in Metal-Rules.com, what Bltiz has done here is combine the Canterbury Tales (http://www.classicnote.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/canterbury/about.html
) and the Seven Deadly Sins and applied it to how it affected his life with his experiences, beliefs, etc. "Devil by the Tail", for example represents envy. I believe “Damned” is pride, “Crystal Clear” is lust, etc. I’ve never read the Canterbury Tales so I don’t know how they impacted his writing for the album. Read the lyrics yourself and see what you get out of them!
KILLBOX 13 album is easily one that proves that the guys still have it. Despite any line-up changes that have occurred the material is very strong and doesn’t sound repetitive or too much “done before” to me at all. Although I liked the album on first listen, with repeated listens I got into it more. I like KILLBOX 13 a little more than BLOODLETTING and about as much as NECROSHINE. My favorite OverKill album has always been THE YEARS OF DECAY, and that remains unchallenged to this day.