Released: 2012, Nuclear Blast Records
THE ELECTRIC AGE marks Overkill’s 16th studio album, depending on how you count. Take a minute and let that sink in. Also consider that out of all the first wave of original thrash bands, no other band can claim such a prolific output, including the Big Four. Now, most impressively, Overkill has managed to release quality albums every two years for 27 years. Undeniably, some albums have been better than others, but you would be hard pressed to find a universally panned album by critics or fans, simply because there are none. Only if you include their less impressive live albums and cover album, do you find that Overkill is only human after all. There are a couple of absolutes in metal, and Overkill is one of them, reaching a hallowed reputation among fans that there is no reason to even consider anything but buying each new album, and being rewarded with a solid effort in return.
So now I can say what you already know without even hearing the album: Overkill has done it again. The band has endured countless lineup changes but this album marks 7 years with the same lineup intact, and somehow the band sounds like they have been playing together for 20 years instead. THE ELECTRIC AGE is a tight, focused, crushingly produced album that incorporates blazing thrash, and pummeling mid-paced thumpers seasoned with the band’s hardcore inflections. Album opener “Come and Get It” sets the stage nicely, gradually building anticipation that starts with a heavy drum pattern before those warm, big guitars come crashing down. “Save Yourself” swats aside all pretenders and lower tier practitioners, a shining example of a sound that Overkill has perfected and owns. Shaking the tree a bit is the opening seconds of “21st Century Man”, which deceptively point to a progressive metal track, understandable considering the progressive sounding title. Then you figure out that they have subtly altered and borrowed the first heavy riff to Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato” and then they are off and running, lyrically updating ELO’s “21st Century Man” with a harsh new reality. Be clear, this is no cover song though!
One unifying trait of the album is the tremendous energy being conveyed, an album that you want to throw into the car deck and slam on the gas pedal. And Blitz, man he is in great form howling and sneering with variety through the entire album. How he continues to deliver is beyond me but he never seems to age in his vocals. D. D. Verni continues to be much more than just “the bass player” featuring prominently in the sound and the writing of the album, while the rest of the band delivers on their end. Admirably, Overkill continues to sound modern while retaining the foundational traits of thrash metal, a feat that has eluded every member of the Big Four.
In sum, have no worries because Overkill is still in-your-face, playing meat and potatoes metal with no progressive or classical sounding passages here. Bottom line, THE ELECTRIC AGE is a fine album. No, it is not a perfect record and not the best of the catalog, but certainly one that stands on its own merit and is worthy of every fan of thrash metal’s attention. Check that, every fan of metal's attention, period.