Relix IV (Spitfire Records)
By: Vinnie Apicella
With a slow, prodding opening that's like a dark sky ready to erupt, you know you're just seconds away from another continuous onslaught of Overkill-style aggression and then "Within Your Eyes" is unleashed upon you, axes grinding, bass beating, drum pounding and soon the expected "Blitz" shriek to indicate the band is indeed back in full force -- not that anyone in the Metal community's ever raised the question. In fact of all the bands of their era, few, if any, have been as quick or consistent as Overkill in producing album after album, tour after tour, as committed as any in existence.
"Relix IV" follows up on their crafty "Killbox 13," a well-preserved piece of OK's history that was well received by their loyal legions, and aims to continue their precedent of staying true to tradition but never settling. Overkill's material has become undoubtedly darker and more driven in recent years after the dismantling of their classic early lineup that helmed master works as "Taking Over," "Years Of Decay," and "Horrorscope," owing much to the addition of a fifth guitarist and the continual search for settlement.
"Relix IV" has achieved growth and sees stability within the band, which besides mainstays Blitz and D.D. Verni, includes drummer Tim Mallare and guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailor, and at the least, is yet another notch in the skull-fronted leather belt of the band approaching their 20th anniversary, and at best, a ten track masterpiece that reaffirms their place as unrivaled leaders of the Thrash Metal pack.
Stand out features from the get go include the determined grind of the twin guitars, owing much to the "dirty" sound the band opted for this go-round, endearingly youthful in quality, garage-like and akin to the underproduced pre-Atlantic days when "Rotten To The Core" was an eloquent means of playing and overall packaging.
After the ear-shattering break-in of "Within Your Eyes," the band proceeds to make a mockery of "Love," soils the listeners acoustics with "Loaded Rack," and sandwiching in an anthem "Bats In The Belfry" of atypically vindictive proportions, blasts through with a refreshing dose of Speed-driven Thrash, "A Pound Of Flesh," that rivals anything they've done in years as does its follower, "Keeper" where Mallare's an eight-armed drum machine that moves the monster forward at a menacing pace.
Whereas last year's Killbox 13 was superbly produced by Colin Richardson, Relix IV is self-produced by the band, owing much to its rawness and quickly dispensing the notion of not fucking with a good thing. The album is eight out of ten strong, which is phenomenally good and better than anyone should expect from a veteran band with little left to prove. Eliminating the listlessness of tracks eight and nine, "The Mark" and "Play The Ace," we leave off with un unexpected highlight of a closer in the beer-drenching punk rants of "Old School" where the band captures its own origins and the scene that spawned 'em, lyrically calling out names and places amidst of barroom rush of mug-raising shout-outs and swearing.
Stamping their boot print on their 20-year history, Relix IV is a deafening statement of identity that maintains the Overkill standard of Metal excellence and is a worthy successor to "Killbox" and significant tie-in to the prolific years when they were young, hungry and dirty.