Overkill/The Bronx Casket Co.

Overkill

Bloodletting

Metal-Is

The Bronx Casket Co.

The Bronx Casket Co.

The Music Cartel

Much like kindred spirits Kreator, Overkill got their start in the mid-’80s, cranking out well-executed if not predictable platters of thrash metal, finally hitting their stride on 1989’s The Years of Decay, unarguably the best document of Overkill mark I. Come the ’90s, however, came the big “slow down,” as the New York quartet cut back on the, um, overkill and let the inherent power of their songs properly breathe, 1993’s I Hear Black being their best record of the decade’s first half, last year’s Necroshine the best one of the second. Now, along comes Bloodletting, their eleventh studio album so far, finding Overkill primed n’ ready for pummeling the new millennium, the record easily landing itself among the band’s top five outputs. Though countless lineups have come and gone, frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellisworth and bassist D.D. Verni remain, and their songwriting chemistry stands sleek yet somehow grimy here, with any given song’s focus being primarily the rhythm (no doubt influenced by Verni’s long-standing status in the band) and the chunky riffs percolating about the frequent mid-tempos, thunderous opener “Thunderhead” serving as a prime example of Overkill’s current fist-thrusting aesthetic. But not every song mandates a mane shaking, for Overkill can still tap into frenzies of double-bass drums and rusty riffing, especially on “My Name is Pain” — it’s just that they can do such more dynamically than before. Hopefully, Bloodletting will win Overkill a (wrecking) crew of new-school fans, because the youth of today just ain’t buying their stuff like they used to; chalk that up to age and endurance, I guess.

In his spare time, Verni runs the Bronx Casket Co. with ‘kill drummer Tim Mallare and some flunkies from flunky bands (Metalium, Shotgun Symphony). And judging by the Casket Co.’s self-titled debut album, perhaps Verni and Mallare should stick to their day jobs (Overkill, presumably), as the record’s an overwrought piece of goth-metal that’s not that distinctively goth, not that distinctively metal, just kinda dull and… there. You know they’re trying really, really hard, but with all the competition currently coming from Europe (if I actually cared, I would list ’em), not to mention masters of the form Type O Negative here on our own soil, The Bronx Casket Co. is gonna get no love, really. And an ooh-spooky cover of Metallica’s “Jump in the Fire”?! Having heard it, I don’t know whether to laugh or to do exactly what the song says. Ouch.

Metal-Is, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, http://www.wreckingcrew.com; The Music Cartel, P.O. Box 629, Port Washington, NY 11050, http://www.music-cartel.com

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