The Killing Kind
Released: 1996, CMC
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
Ah, Overkill. East Coast thrash titans, and possessors of one of the most god damn lovely frontmen ever – Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. Having started out in 1980, you could call THE KILLING KIND with its '96 release date Overkill's sweet 16th celebration. The question is, is it a birthday to be remembered or one best forgot?
A title like 'Battle' draws some pretty clear lines, and as an intro track it delivers, the drums in particular imbuing it with this sense of building-to-something. Plus it's got snippets of dialogue from Batman Returns. Wish it was possible to scrub off the stupid 'yeaaahh' backing vocal though.
After a single out-and-out scream from Ellsworth “God-Like” tends to hunker down in the lower part of his register, relying on a more 'evil' tone and backing vocals from new guitarist Joe Cormeau (formerly on the mic in Liege Lord). It thrashes alright, but already you can tell that THE KILLING KIND has a cleaner production quality, which sadly strips away some of that from the gutter spirit that always defined Overkill.
The slash in “Burn You Down/To Ashes” seems well placed for this is definitely a split personality track. Starting with a menacing bass and quietly crooned vocals, the song goes from slow and measured to groove-driven by its close, with some fine solo work from Cormeau and other six-string newbie Sebastian Marino (Anvil). Closing as it started though, the song never feels truly spent. There's almost a frustration on listening because something a touch more is needed. Maybe you'll get it from groovy gang-vocaled “Let Me Shut That For You”, but “Bold Face Pagan Stomp” does all that much better, even with it's almost Metallica opening.
Still with the mid-part of THE KILLING KIND feeling almost slow for Overkill, even with occasional bursts from the guitars, the instrumental “Feeding Frenzy” is a welcome blast of speed which sees D.D. Verni playing crazy bass. Things are now starting to slide even as the band try to inject more variety once more with “The Cleansing's” outro of “Jesus cleanse me now” causing some serious cringe.
Then there's “The Mourning After/Private Bleeding” is some bizarre piano-ballad-cum-power-driver, all sung over in a manner that sounds as though Ellsworth was getting progressively wankered during recording. On THE KILLING KIND his vocals aren't as sharp as they could be, as they will be again in the future, and this track shows that with the blinding clarity of a spotlight.
To continue that party analogy THE KILLING KIND starts off well enough, and then it's like the DJ put a couple of bad choices on and the mood drops. The band make an effort to pick things up, but between “The Cleansing” and “The Mourning After/Private Bleeding” everyone's looking at getting their coats. Even as “Cold, Hard Fact” tries to get you to stay.
We should probably be commending Overkill for trying some different things on THE KILLING KIND, during a period when maybe they felt they had too what with some of the interest in thrash fading away, or perhaps the intro of two new members helped drive a change of direction, but it doesn't really work for them. It's not that Overkill can't do groove, it's just that they are at their best when they're trying to thrash you into another dimension. That's when they truly kill.
Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs