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July 13, 2024

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Killbox 13 (Spitfire Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

Overkill's remained a model of consistency throughout their 20 year run as one of Metal's loudest voices. One of the few to have survived the various obstacles thrown in their way by way of trends and lackluster peer performance, fans come to know the band will deliver time and again regardless of who's in the band or what the state of the art happens to be at the moment. True, there've been those moments when the band itself lagged in the creativity department, throwing out a handful of absentee ballots on the so significant depth chart that true Metal longs for, yet such makes an album as "Killbox 13" all the more inviting once all the parts are in place. From the start, this is not another Overkill also-ran that peaks early and crawls the rest of the way home. Similar to recent highlights as "Killing Kind" or "From The Underground And Below," the album is an enthusiastic display of proud playing with nothing to lose and everything to prove. The Linsk / Tailor guitar tandem furnishes some of the bands heaviest and catchiest ax work in a long stretch, giving the songs extra motion from start to finish, akin to an epic album like "The Years Of Decay" with its unstoppable and indeterminate instrumental routes and Thrash fits. And from the opening moments of their ultra-aggressive "Devil By The Tail," "Damned," and classic-era styling of "No Lights," the character is pure evil and an exercise in ferocity. "The One" and "Crystal Clear" double up the riff and lend the off/on grind effect they've succeeded to install in newer material; not the greatest, but not as weak as maybe the middle run of "I Hear Black." "The Sound Of Dying" and "Until I Die" are an antithetical yet thematically tied display of Overkill as the lurking beast, quick to attack its prey at the first opening. "Struck Down" is a quick indication of the band's continued crushability featuring a full-on Thrash attack that recalls the glory years highlighted by more in-step dual guitar runs and Mallare's double-time drumming. The thunderous "Unholy" shows little sign of let up near the end, featuring an "I Hate" / "Bastard Nation" feel that elbows its way among their most ambitious works to date, before ending the record much like it began with "I Rise," leaving a bullet-riddled corpse where the listener once sat. D.D. and Blitz made the right move grabbing the in-demand Colin Richardson to manhandle the production pods this go round, pushing every ounce of anger and raw energy through the channels to make for a fierce, fast, and fresh sound distinguishable from previous outings. Overkill's "Killbox 13" easily ranks among the top three or four contenders of their always resurgent and respectable career.
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