CMC International Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/19/1999
There are several reasons why a band might choose to take a break from recording new material and put out an album of cover songs, as is the case with Overkill and their latest release Coverkill. Maybe the disc is meant to help introduce a new member to the band, a la Metallica and Garage Days Re-Revisited. Maybe it's because the band needed to clean out the pipes and just do something fun. Maybe it's because they want to put out something special as a "thank you" to the fans.
In Overkill's case, I think it's a combination of all these reasons. After all, the band has been going nonstop now for over 10 years, and a break to have some fun with old songs they like is long-earned. Besides, Coverkill is a great album - and that's really all that's important in the long run.
Since the release of the band's last studio effort Necroshine, guitarist Sebastian Marino left the band, and in stepped Dave Linsk. While Overkill has always been able to "roll with the punches" when it came to adding new members, it's not a bad idea to just jam out on songs like these - especially seeing Necroshine came out only eight months ago.
Coverkill is an album that stretches over almost Overkill's entire history, going as far back as the sessions for Under The Influence for material. The best thing one could say about this is that there is almost no noticeable difference between the different versions of the band - and that is meant as a high compliment.
Think about it - doesn't it make perfect sense to open up this set with a cover of Motorhead's "Overkill"? Wouldn't it also make sense that the band would do a version that almost matched the original note-for-note? Damn straight.
Whether it's Black Sabbath ("Changes," "Never Say Die"), Kiss ("Deuce"), The Sex Pistols ("No Feelings") or the Ramones ("I'm Against It") that is on the menu, Overkill know how to not only keep the flavor of the original, but to add enough of their own signature to make the song unique. Granted, I would have preferred that "Changes" had been kept in the same vein as Ozzy Osbourne and crew did it - namely, without the drums - but I did like the effect of D.D. Verni playing the piano line on an 8-string bass. It just felt - and sounded - right.
Even a group like Jethro Tull fits in, as Overkill take their song "Hymn 43" and put it through the metal shredder. I'll admit the classic rock fans might not like it, but I grew up on this song, and I kinda liked the spin that Overkill put on it.
You don't even need to be totally familiar with all the source material - I never was that big into The Dead Boys - to appreciate what Overkill is doing on Coverkill. Even the impromptu jam on "Tequila" at the end of "I'm Against It" feels like it belongs - and the band freely admits that "I'm Against It", coming off an old cassette, isn't of the same audio quality as the rest of the album. My thought: it's not as bad as the band makes it out to be, though there is a drop in the treble.
Some people might get a little spooked by Coverkill - to them I say, lighten up. Overkill has been cranking out enough original music since the '80s, that it's time they got a chance to show their roots (having started their musical lives as a cover band) as well as to kick up their heels a bit. This is the kind of album that, once you give it a chance, will be hard to pull out of your CD player for a long time.