Overkill - Under The Influence review
|Album:||Under The Influence|
|Release date:||July 1988|
02. Never Say Never
03. Hello From The Gutter
04. Mad Gone World
06. Drunken Wisdom
07. End Of The Line
08. Head First
09. Overkill III (Under The Influence)
"Under the Influence" marked a huge evolutionary step from the speedy heavy metal of their two previous albums to the thrash metal band we now know. The most immediately noticeable difference are the changes in the production department, which finally caught up with that of their peers. The whole album generally sounds clearer and better, and it would be Overkill's best production if it were not for the clanking of D.D. Verni's bass. While an audible bass is, simply because of the rarity of occurrence, something special on a thrash metal album, getting used the bass on Under the Influence requires a lot of patience.
On the more positive side, Bobby Ellsworth's vocals, while still sounding more the work of a capable singer rather than of an archetypal thrash metal shouter, have a nastier, rougher edge to them. His (even through snarls) light-hearted sounding delivery adds a dose of freshness many other thrash bands were lacking. The perhaps only real complaint is the at times rather chaotic and sloppy playing by guitarist Bobby Gustavson. This may very well be a matter of taste (after all many well known bands such as Kreator and Sodom played far sloppier) but I personally prefer a more precise approach.
And lastly the compositions are far more unified and focused. Which makes it hard to discern real highlight as, two or perhaps three notable exceptions aside, the songs hardly leave a lasting impression on their own. "Hello From the Gutter" is a real monster and most likely the reason why you will be buying this album. The catchy and yet powerful and intense main riff makes it easily one if the most accessible and memorable thrash metal songs ever written. The other obvious highlight is the concert favourite album opener "Shred", which is a fitting way of introducing the listener to Overkill's new sound.
The remaining tracks are not without merit, for instance the the bass line of "Head First" is great, despite clanking, and the chorus of "End of the Line" is quite nice as well, but still "Under the Influence" is the weakest of the first five Overkill records, only hinting at the quality yet to come.
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