Overkill III (Under The Influence)

  

Meanwhile on America’s east Coast New Jersey’s finest sons Overkill are releasing Under The Influence. Hello From The Gutter taken from thIs album is still firmly embedded in their live set almost three decades later.

Much like Slayer, I never seem to tire of seeing Overkill live. Both bands were at Hellfest, and I’ve seen both a fair few times over the last 18 months and their set lists haven’t changed dramatically but unlike some bands I could mention they give it their all gig after gig, rather than looking a tad disinterested and just going though the motions. Overkill in particular always seem to be enjoying themselves up on that stage.

As a “rebellious” fourteen or fifteen year old I got hooked on to Overkill with their F**k You 12″ that came out a year or so earlier, just due to the fact that it involved swearing and a cover that could offend parents I had to listen to it, so that piece of vinyl was my gateway into the band.  And 28 years later I just had to buy that shirt when I saw it up for sale on their mercy stall in Manchester. Even at 42 though I still daren’t wear it around my parents!!

Like so many bands from this period though, their visits to UK shores seemed to dry up during the 1990’s and it was a further 14 years after this album was released before I got to see them.

For a guy who had a stroke on stage 14 years ago, frontman Bobby Blitz certainly bounds around the stage more energetically than some people half of this 57 year olds age. And long standing bassist D.D. Verni just oozes “cool”. Looking like someone straight out of Sons of Anarchy he just struts his stuff every night on stage.

Hello From The Gutter was posted a few months back, so do yourself a favour and scroll back and gave a look at it. Here’s the closing track on the album Overkill III (Under The Influence).

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Hello From The Gutter

Well we made it back from Canada safely!

We had a great time in the snow and ice over there, even if the extra curricular gigs didn’t go to plan. Looking at the times for the Wacken battle of the bands show on the first night it was obvious none of us would be awake at the start, let alone the finish.

Things were looking better for either of Saturday’s show choices, then I got a bout of what was probably food poisoning and spent virtually 24 hours in my hotel room, also missing the Iron Maiden pre gig party being held right across from my hotel room. I uncomfortably made the main event, which was absolutely superb, but more on that later.

The final show on Monday did indeed get swallowed up by our attendance at a Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey game as expected. Overall an enjoyable jaunt over to Canada which the wife and I have vowed not to leave so long till out next visit.

Tuesday was a long travel day and just seemed to go from bad to worse for the bulk of the day. Waking up around 8am Canadian time and finally flopped onto my own bed 24 hours later. The evenings flight was greeted by a gaggle of wailing children who, so it seemed, cried at the top of their lungs for the entire seven hour flight. A 50 minute tube ride across London was followed by a two and a half hour train trip back “up north”.

Any one with half a brain would have stayed in bed for the rest of the day, not me. Awake four hours later to head to Manchester to see New Jersey thrash legends Overkill playing was on my agenda. What I wasn’t banking on was a motorway incident turning all my local roads into miles of car parks. Leaving home just before 5pm to catch another train an hour and fifteen minutes later was almost scuppered when it took almost two hours to pick up a friend who lives less than 5 miles up the road!

Thankfully I made the executive decision to catch the latest possible train to make the show worthwhile, meaning we’d only miss ten minutes. The only thing that went in my favour on Wednesday was the bands were running late, if they didn’t come up straight after the previous nights gig they would also have encountered the same motorway blues. We missed Polish band Vader, but caught all of Overkill.

With no album to really promote on this tour their set was devoid of all but one song from the latest release, but in a few weeks they are playing Horrorscope and Feel The Fire in their entirety to celebrate 30 and 25 years respectively, so their nineteen song set was heavy on those two releases in preparation for Germany. So there were a few songs I’d never seen live and others that I’ve not witnessed in some time. The night was rounded off with Elimination and their cover of a song originally done by Canadian punks Subhumans, which they have firmly turned into their own anthem.

Live Arena 2016.14

This week I’m still on holiday and we start again in Canada and finish up in Leeds, via Manchester. 

Monday – Toronto, Hard Luck Bar

Finnish Melodic death metal band Kalmah are on stage on our last full day in the land of the Mountie. We could have tickets for a Maple Leafs hockey game, so these Finns might be benchched. 
  

Tuesday – Manchester, Sound Control

Back on home soil and dependant on tiredness / jet lag, I’m hoping to catch, what on paper, is the mismatch of New Jersey thrashers Overkill supported by Polish death metal legends Vader. Leeds the night after is an alternative option. 

  

Friday – Manchester, Star & Garter

London hardcore veterans Knuckledust are supporting Chula Vista (or San Diego) hardcore band Take Offense, with a gathering of some other up and coming UK  talents. 

  

Saturday – Leeds, Canal Mills

This is a late alteration to my original gig choice of PVRIS in Birmingham. Swedish death metal band Grave only got announced as the headliners of Ritual Festival mid February and as I’ve never seen Grave after listening to them for a quarter of a century I have to go, and I think I’ll have more chances to see PVRIS than Grave in the future. 
  

Armorist 


Having a 4am alarm call is nothing unusual for me. I’ve held down the same job for over 18 years with six early starts every week. My early alarm call this time last year was not for work, but a wake up call to get up and drive to Liverpool airport for a 7:30am flight to Amsterdam. My final destination was the sleepy town of Zwolle to catch New Jersey’s finest sons Overkill.

Overkill’s only UK date in 2015 was at the Bloodstock festival, so any self respecting thrasher couldn’t turn down the opportunity to head to the continent for a relatively cheap and easy trip to the Netherlands. Plus with main support on the Euro leg of the tour being Seattle’s Sanctuary it had to be done.

Besides a gig or a football match, if my team ever reach the European stage again, I’d have no reason whatsoever to visit Zwolle. Walking through the sedate streets and along the river bank to my hotel you wonder why a noisy metal band are playing here, but the same can be said of most places I’ve seen bands in Holland.

My bed for the evening happened to be within spitting distance of the venue, the Hedon. With almost every venue I’ve visited in Europe the Hedon is another superb place to watch a band.


Opening up proceedings was Swiss female fronted band Suborned, who had a tough time in front of of the sparse Dutch crowd. Italians Methedras fared a bit better, but the eventual capacity crowd were only here for the two bands from the United States.

Sanctuary have only played two English shows since 1988 and that night they were as solid as I’d hoped for, and for me it was good seeing them indoors and playing track from Refuge Denied and Into The Mirror Black, two albums that have been with me since my school days and I’d only previously seen them once on a festival stage.

Bobby Blitz and D.D. Verni with their band of reprobates were promoting the superb White Devil Armory release, but surprisingly only played two track from it, but their sixteen song set managed to represent ten different albums spread across their now almost 36 year career. Like so many bands in this genre from that 1980’s era they are getting better with time.

I get to see Overkill in the UK again in a matter of weeks. After an eight hour flight from Toronto (off to see Iron Maiden) then a further three hours or so driving from Heathrow to Stoke. Later that evening I have a 50 minute drive to see them and Vader in Manchester.

I really fancied their Oberhausen show later in April where they’re playing Horrorscope and Feel The Fire in full, but I left it too late. I might have another look at flights sometime soon though.

OVERKILL

  

SANCTUARY

Top 10 Gigs of 2015

Now that was hard work trying to narrow down a top ten of shows I attended this year from over 70 shows.  In front of me now I have a list scrawled out of 17 memorable shows for one reason or another and enough scribble on the page to fill a small diary.

 

Some of the shows that I had to cut included debut UK shows form Belgium’s Bloodrocuted and Vektor from the United States. AC/DC rocking the foundations of Wembley Arena.  The mega line up of Carcass, Obituary, Napalm Death and Voivod on the Deathcrusher tour.  Intimate shows by Anthrax in Brighton and Iron Reagan in Manchester. And the merging of my teenage years and some of the newest bands on the Slam Dunk Festival (PVRIS, Beartooth, H2O and Millencolin).  Finally, a honourable mention to Discharge, the inovators of D-Beat, playing a home town show to a packed venue with their new vocalist JJ.

So here it goes…

10 – Bloodstock Festival (Catton Hall 7-9th August)

I was going to steer clear of lumping a festival as one, but there were some superb performances this year.  Finally seeing Dark Angel was a huge plus. Nuclear Assault’s last UK appearance.  Sepultura, Overkill and Re-Animator showing everyone the old bands still have it, and overlooking the technical difficulties, Within Temptation’s headline slot had everything you wanted.

  
9 – Overkill and Sanctuary (Hedon, Zwolle 17th March)

A flying trip to Holland to catch the Killfest tour.  The second time I’d seen Sanctuary, but the first time with a roof.  They were flawless and Overkill were as solid as ever.  An added bonus of the Hedon venue being so good.


8 – Hirax (Manchester, Sound Control 16th March)

I could have picked their debut show at Hammerfest a few days earlier, but after the initial disappointment of seeing what part of the venue they were playing, it was so pleasing viewing a band playing in such a small space with so much enthusiasm.


7 – Xentrix and Acid Reign (Dublin, Voodoo Lounge 16th October)

I could have picked anyone of the three shows I attended on this tour, but by the time they sailed into Dublin they had all hit their stride, especially the returning Acid Reign after a quarter of a century away from the stage, who were as much fun that night as they were in 1990.


6 – Obituary (Camden, Electric Ballroom 1st February)

The reason I didn’t include Deathcrusher on the list is thanks to this headline set from Florida’s finest. I had reservations about it being upgraded to the much bigger Ballroom from the comparatively tiny Underworld. By the start of their set any misgivings were put aside as the place was pretty much full.  They were on top form that night, plus there was the added bonus of seeing German thrashers Dust Bolt on the same night.


5 – Flotsam & Jetsam (Nuneaton, Queens Hall 19th May)

Another disappointing turn out in Nuneaton, but that didn’t deter the legendary Arizona thrashers.  Tonight was a complete master class of thrash metal. Such a tight performance and compared to when I saw them last year the live vocals were much better.


4- Metallica (Gothenburg, Ullevi Stadium 22nd August)

Metallica are my favourite band and can really do no wrong in my book (well maybe LuLu!), but they couldn’t make my top three this year.  This tour didn’t have to may surprises in the set list, but I got to see Frayed Ends of Sanity performed live and I had tickets for the Golden Circle so we managed to get pretty close and ended up with a few off stage souvenirs.


3- Slayer and Anthrax (Brixton, Academy 30th November)

Again, I could have picked either date of the tour that I saw, but with the added size of the stage in Brixton you got more bang for your buck. Two bands who are most definitely getting better with age. Slayer were just Slayer, no banter, no jokes, no roller coasters, no prolonged solos – just pure, unadulterated, evil, thrash metal (and dancing inverted crosses!)  What more could you want?


2- Tankard and Crisix (Barcelona, Razzmatazz II 25th January)

Finally the missing piece for me from the German Teutonic Big Four. If Tankard won’t come to me then I’d better go to them!  After Kreator these Frankfurt beer swilling maniacs are my next favourite band of the four.  Much like Anthrax or Acid Reign, they are often classed as the clowns of the bunch.  That night in January they were on top form.  The track (Empty) Tankard was superb sing-a-long, and seeing Gerre singing from on top of the bar right in front of me is something I won’t forget in a hurry. They were so much fun to watch.


1 – Nightwish (Wembley, Arena 19th December)

So my favourite gig of the year happened to be the last gig I attended.  Nightwish owned the cavernous Wembley Arena that evening.  We were promised the full European stage show and that’s what they delivered.  Metal fans have a weird preoccupation with fire in all forms and we had it all tonight! We also had smoke, ticker tape and giant video screens.  The visuals were well and truly backed up with some stunning songs performed to perfection by Floor Jansen who breathed life into tracks from the departed vocalists before her. Fantastic sound too in a place so enormous, and it only cost £25.  A real bargain. A truly superb evening.


Live Arena 9

Well this weekends superb Nightwish extravaganza brought 2015’s gig diary to a close and now I’m looking forward to 2016.

So far plenty of bands to look forward to seeing over the forthcoming twelve months including a trip to Canada in April and a few continental European visits potentially. But first Christmas and New Year shenanigans to endure!

A few of next years shows I’ll be catching.