Overkill

support Destruction + Heathen + After All
author EW date 03/03/11 venue Islington Academy, London, UK

Had there be any doubting which of metal's subgenres had arrived in town for this concert, on a unusually cold night in early spring London, the legion of patch-jacket clad hipsters and white hi-tops made it plainly clear - this was all about thrash! On such a line-up do people make the extra effort when three acts of the 80's appear; however a start time of 5.45pm on a week day is just plainly stupid for anyone who has a job. If I hadn't already come to conclusion the corporate owned venues across London cared not for the average fan, this, along with ludicrous £4.10 pints, would have sealed the deal.

As such I arrived at the reasonable time of 6pm yet with just two songs of After All's set remaining there was hardly the chance to fully assess out these Belgian thrashers. Aside from new frontman Sammy Peleman who managed some extraordinary feats of vocal range, ala King Diamond, I didn't gather all that much from what I saw which sadly fits the previous live and recorded experiences with the band that have left no lasting impression whatsoever. Maybe I'll need to give them another chance…

Heathen

Bay Area thrashers Heathen's contribution to 80s thrash may have been small in comparison to many of their local peers but their 1987 LP "Breaking the Silence" serves to show how strong that scene was, with such a solid record arguably struggling to make the top dozen records from that time. Time did not favour Heathen however, with a second release in 1991 coming at the end of thrash's reign and the inevitable dissolution of the band. Twenty years later is a long time and to their credit Heathen put on a reasonable, if flat, show somewhat on a par with many of the newer crop of thrashers these days, despite their set being entirely culled from 2009's "The Evolution of Chaos". Not having heard said album it was disappointing to not be treated to any of their older material, a strange choice considering the new generation before them, and it left one with the feeling that their set could have been a whole lot more.

5

Destruction

One live act I am always confident can be relied upon is German legends Destruction. Not only are their earliest works some of the best thrash ever put to tape but they also have the happy knack of being highly presentable to a baying audience such as this one. Not only that, but their recent works, a collection of albums that don't hold a candle to the likes of "Eternal Devastation", sound much better coming from the group of 3 scraggy Germans before me than has every been the case from my speakers. With such a large back catalogue Destruction have no trouble in filling a set of 50 minutes including the likes of "Bestial Invasion", "Mad Butcher" and newbie "Hate Is My Fuel". Besides the apparent pissed off demeanour Schmier attempts to exude (we all know he basically looks like a fun loving metalhead type we all want a drink with) and the usual sound gremlins Destruction's set is as I've witnessed many times before: energetic and passionate. But far from being the best of the evening…

Overkill

Why aren't Overkill heralded at least as highly as Exodus and Anthrax? These New York/New Jersey veterans have been going since 1980 without stopping and show no sign of slowing based on the quality of their recent works, and live shows. An all-round stand-up bunch of musicians but in Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth there is a frontman and vocalist to rival any in the leagues of thrash metal whose energy and strength never ceases to amaze for a man now the wrong side of 50. Overkill's set comprises a set of songs old and new, for which their differentiation is at times tricky given the overall consistency, but for me "Coma" and "Rotten To The Core" are invariably the stand-out in any Overkill show, combining their unmistakable healthy dose of groove and swagger amidst the mandatory speed factor we all had come desiring.

I had doubted before the show the legitimacy of Overkill's positioning above Destruction given the German's arguably greater influence down the years but by the end justice was perfectly served. As the first show in a tour expanding across the continent it would be same to assume things will only improve from this point onwards: thrashers of Europe, beware of the impending Overkill. Live thrash performances rarely come with a better guarantee of satisfaction that Destruction and Overkill together.

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