Heavy metal has a long history of bombastic obscurity. At its best it’s loud, aggressive and uncompromising, and this limits its appeal. Those few bands who manage to become household names usually do so more out of circumstance than anything else. While some bands actively seek out this fame and others happen to stumble upon it by sheer chance, those that do attain it leave behind them a hundred times as many bands whose musicianship and songwriting is either on par with or beyond their own.
In their early days, Overkill was considered among the best of the best, one of the most important bands to progress the burgeoning young genre which would eventually be known as thrash metal. As the years went on, some of their peers would rise to become familiar names even among suburban soccer moms and politicians, but Overkill remained a band that was accessible only to those who were willing to look for them. Despite the obvious drawbacks that this brings, one of the best results of it is the consistency of their discography. While the Metallicas and Megadeths of the world ended up dumbing down their sound in order to appeal to a wider audience and in the process alienating part of their original fanbase, Overkill have always stayed true to what they are, and have stuck to what they do best. One must pick and choose through Anthrax’s discography to find something good, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything terrible in Overkill’s. Their honest, no-bullshit attitude and solid chops have allowed them to crank out album after album of excellent material, and their latest, The Electric Age is no exception.
It isn’t terribly eclectic. It’s not a new direction. You won’t hear any radio singles, jazz odysseys or tribal influences here, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re barking up the wrong tree. What this album does is deliver what Overkill does best, and what the band’s fans, who have supported them for so many years, would expect. The songwriting is as solid as ever, and the musicianship is stellar. If thrash metal was a recipe, it’s one that Overkill has perfected. They know just the right amount of every ingredient to add, and it tastes great. This album is a welcome addition to the discography of such a venerable band.