Overkill RelixIV

Through 20 years and almost that many albums, New York’s Overkill have kept their workingman’s thrash honed to a razor-sharp edge, especially relevant in a genre where sticking to one’s roots is more of an option than a credo. Fans will always have their favourites — usually up to 1991’s Horrorscope — but RelixIV has equal amounts of satisfying shred for metal heads young and old. From the opening fret board fingerings like old Van Halen, "Within Your Eyes” hearkens back to 1989’s The Years of Decay with a lengthy intro then jigsaws through the jugular with a dual-axe attack and wailing solos. "Love” is an able tune, though the band bumps it up a notch with the thrasher-pieces "Loaded Rack” and "Bats in the Belfry.” With a throbbing Pantera bridge, "A Pound Of Flesh” takes an even earlier tack towards 1987’s golden oldie Taking Over, and axe-man Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer trade multitudinous licks like Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing. "Keeper” and "The Mark 2:14” are more streamlined thrash for the new crowd, while "Wheelz” and "Play The Ace” are slower, almost ballad-like head-bobbers and future sing-along candidates. A tongue-in-cheek self-reminiscence, album closer "Old School” is a Ramones-styled punk number with Irish drinking-song choruses like Dropkick Murphys and between-verse commentary about metal’s old days like Gwar or Dog Eat Dog. No matter the odds, Overkill continue to give the people what they want: thrash that counters the rampant laxity of the competition. (Spitfire)