If you’ve heard Overkill’s previous album, Ironbound, then many of the elements on their sixteenth full-length will probably seem familiar to you: a catchy, groove-tinged thrashfest with killer drumming, a clean production, and the unmistakable vocals of Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. As such, comparisons to that album will be inevitable; after all, it did put the mighty ‘Kill back on the map for those who began to dismiss them. So, here are your comparisons: The Electric Age is beefier. It’s darker. It’s got even more aggression and even more attitude. Don’t think Overkill could get any better? Well, they just did.
Jumping right into things, The Electric Age proves that more than anything, Overkill are still extremely capable of writing great thrash songs. It does this by making three compelling arguments: “Come and Get It,” “Wish You Were Dead,” and “Drop the Hammer Down,” all of which are good enough to be placed among the band’s best, regardless of the era. The reason for this is that Overkill explore longer song structures on this album, giving Dave Linsk more room to work (which is a good thing). There’s plenty of space for face-melting riffs, and as those who are familiar with D.D. Verni know, he has an endless supply of them (leading to many more good things).
But the big reason why this progression in songwriting is key for The Electric Age is that it allows Overkill to turn up the speed on the rest of the songs without sounding too repetitive. They’ve never been a band to write many ballads, but The Electric Age goes balls-to-the-wall from the beginning to end, with the only real slow-down being in the intro of the final track, “Good Night”. It’s really the best thing an Overkill fan could have hoped for: the riffing of the old days combined with enough progression to keep the sound fresh, all without falling into a rut of any kind.
Honestly, I shouldn’t even have to discuss the lineup, because these guys have been doing the same killer job for a very, very long time. D.D. Verni and Ron Lipnicki remain one of the tightest rhythm sections in all of thrash, and Dave Linsk and Derek Tailor provide their usual killer guitar work. But Blitz? My god. He’s stepped up his game, BIG TIME. Sure, he still sounds like a pissed-off, rabid hyena (very comfortably, I might add), but regarding his vocal range, it seems like he’s found the fountain of youth; there are some screams on The Electric Age that would lead you to believe the man is in his mid 30s at the latest, and certainly not 52. It’s unbelievable that a guy who’s been doing this for so long can still sound this amazing, but tracks like “Electric Rattlesnake” and “Black Daze” prove that Blitz is still one, if not the best frontman in the business.
When I listened to Ironbound for the first time, I couldn’t help but reflect on Overkill’s legacy; if they somehow released another album as good, I thought, it might just force them to the top of the thrash elite, where they had deserved to be for so long. However, I absolutely did not think that album would end up being Ironbound’s immediate successor, and yet here we are with another modern thrash masterpiece. This time, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back: Overkill is the greatest thrash metal band ever, with the Electric Age being the oh-so-delicious cherry on top of a legendary career. Buy this with pride, my friends.