"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Overkill - "Ironbound" (CD)

Overkill - "Ironbound" CD cover image

"Ironbound" track listing:

1. The Green and Black (8:14)
2. Ironbound (6:35)
3. Bring Me the Night (4:18)
4. The Goal Is Your Soul (6:43)
5. Give a Little (4:44)
6. Endless War (5:43)
7. The Head and Heart (5:13)
8. In Vain (5:15)
9. Killing for a Living (6:16)
10. The SRC (5:03)

Reviewed by on March 2, 2010

"From top to bottom, 'Ironbound' is the most consistent album the band has released since 'Horrorscope.'"

One band that seems to be overlooked by many thrash metal fans is New Jersey’s Overkill. Ever since their 1985 debut “Feel The Fire,” they have been non-stop in releasing stellar material, save for a few missteps in the late 90s. Their output from 1985-1991 (“Feel The Fire” to “Horrorscope”) is arguably the best collection of material from any thrash metal band ever. Yet, Overkill has always been like that goofy younger brother that everybody loves to be around, but doesn’t take seriously; that is, until he does something shockingly awesome to make a believer out of the whole family. This is precisely what Overkill does on their sixteenth studio album, “Ironbound.”

“Ironbound” shouldn’t be defined as a return to form because Overkill never really strayed from their roots to begin with. Sure, their later catalog veered more into mid-paced groove territory, but the thrash spirit never dissipated. It seemed that a burning passion was lit under the band, one that has been lying dormant for almost a decade. The attitude, the unfiltered aggression, the bitter hostility; it all seems so fresh, yet familiar at the same time.

Overkill brings back elements from their classic sound, making one wonder where this side of the band has been for so long. Nothing seems forced or cliché, from the epic opener “The Green and Black” to the straightforward pummeling of “Bring Me The Night.” The former is reminiscent of the progressive nature of “Who Tends The Fire” and “The Years Of Decay,” while the latter is a modern-day “Elimination” that should be a live favorite for years to come.

Their longest album to date, each song on “Ironbound” develops and morphs at a steady pace. “The Goal Is Your Soul” evolves from a clean intro to a mid-paced head-banger before finishing off with a speedy bang. Many of the songs are structured in a similar fashion. Overkill is in no rush, waiting until the right opportunities arise to plant a blazing thrash riff into the mix. That is what makes songs like “In Vain” and “The SRC” attention grabbers in the latter portions of the album. However, the longer songs bring up the issue of repetition, in both the riffs and lyrical department. It isn’t enough to hurt the album, but “Killing For A Living” and “Endless War” could have benefited from some trimming.

The band hasn’t completely dropped their groove metal sound. “The Head And Heart” is the most notable example, creating a menacing vibe enhanced by Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth’s sinister vocals. Blitz has never sounded better than he does on “Ironbound,” hitting powerful high notes like it was 1988 all over again and spitting out words like a crazed asylum patient. The rest of the band puts on performances that leave an impression, whether it’s D.D. Verni’s quick bass leads on “The Green and Black” or Dave Linsk’s soulful guitar work on the title track.

“Ironbound” breathes new life into Overkill and is no doubt another career-defining album. The songwriting is on par with their 80’s albums and proves that after 30 years, the band will not fade away without a fight. Who knew that they still had an album like this in them? From top to bottom, “Ironbound” is the most consistent album the band has released since “Horrorscope.” Even with a few faults in the lyrics and slight repetition, Overkill comes across as a hungry band still looking to make a name for themselves as the undisputed kings of underground thrash.

Highs: "The Green and Black" is one of the band's best openers ever, return of a thrashier sound, fantastic vocals and instrumental work.

Lows: Lyrics can get repetitive, a few songs could be trimmed down length-wise.

Bottom line: "Ironbound" is a fantastic thrash album that proves that Overkill has plenty of life left in them.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)