Recently I found this CD hiding in the used section of the local Hastings and snatched it up. Being a big Overkill fan, any deal on their music is a good one. This was their 1989 release, which came right before Horrorscope, an album that I would classify as my favorite one by the band. So, I figured I knew what I was getting into. I was actually very surprised by this album.
Typically with Overkill albums, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. You are going to get songs that are going to kick your ass. They are going to be fast and energetic and aggressive as all hell with a punk attitude and killer riffs. However, on this album we hear some departures from the typical Overkill sound. Obviously the elements that have made Overkill Overkill are still present and in great numbers, but this was a more experimental release by the band.
Let's start with the epic length songs. Overkill until this point played mostly fast and shorter songs. But this album features the ten minute "Playing with Spiders/Skullcrusher" and two additional eight minute tracks. This makes this a longer than usual Overkill album at nearly an hour long.
The first half of the album thunders along in typical Overkill style, but the second half features a lot more melodic moments. The title track is a surprisingly good ballad track. Many thrash bands were attempting these in the late 1980's and Overkill succeeded in putting together a decent one. "Who Tends the Fire?" features a number of impressive tempo changes.
In the late 1980's many thrash metal bands were trying a number of things to stay relevant. They were experimenting with progressive song structures, softening their sound, and trying to be more diverse. Overkill attempted all of these things on this release and largely succeeded. This is a tremendous album by the band and one of their highlights.