Overkill @ House of Blues Anaheim – 02/26/2020
It’s been just over a month since Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth ruled the stage at House of Blues with Metal Allegiance and Overkill took the same stage on Wednesday night February 26 in Anaheim for the first night of their Wings Over the USA tour supporting their 19th studio album Wings of War. Joining the Garden State thrash kings are Denver rockers Hydraform and NOLA’s heavyweight thrashers Exhorder.
Hydraform kicked off the night with a tasty slab of groove oriented yet aggressive metal that had the early-birds in the crowd headbanging and throwing down the metal horns. Vocalist Carter Pashko jumped down into the pit area between the stage and crowd and got up close and personal with those up against the barrier. These Denver based lads got the night off to a scorching start.
Exhorder goes way back to 1985 . . . those around during that time know the legacy of these southern boys while the younger generation seemed a bit unclear who this band was. Well once vocalist Kyle Thomas, guitarist Marzi Montazeri, bass player Jason Viebrooks and drummer Sasha Horn hit the stage and began their onslaught it was apparent Exhorder was the real deal. Their 1990 debut album Slaughter in the Vatican was a fierce, aggressive and pissed off masterpiece of groove-oriented thrash metal and they proved they are still that band.
Out supporting their September 2019 release Mourn the Southern Skies, Exhorder is back, active and out for blood after several years of inactivity. Thomas took the crowd through such brutal cuts as “Slaughter in the Vatican”, “Unforgiven” and new tracks “My Time” and “Hallowed Sound” ending the set with “Desecrator” from the first album. It’s great to see Exhorder out with Overkill to expose their brutality to a new generation of metal heads.
Overkill is immediately mentioned in any conversation regarding thrash metal – yes there is the Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) but bands like Exodus, Testament, Kreator, Death Angel and Overkill have also kept the thrash metal flag waving often in much more of an authentic thrash sound. Having released some of the bands best music since 2010’s Ironbound, Overkill is better than ever in 2020.
Hitting the stage and opening with “Last Man Standing” off Wings of War, New Jersey’s finest export delivered almost 90 minutes of chaos that had the floor at House of Blues turned into a giant circle pit the entire night. Front man Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth” is animated and full of energy as he belts out his high pitched vocals. His one liners in between songs are classic and on this night included, “This is the first night of the tour and I have hard on”, “Look at you people, you get uglier every year”, “We got out of the Jersey cold and started the tour out here, thanks for sharing the sunshine motherfuckers” – never a dull moment when “Blitz” talks.
Fan favorite and break-neck thrasher “Elimination” was played early on as original bassist D.D. Verni cool, calm and collective brought the thunder on his low hanging bass. Verni is without a doubt one of the premier bass players in the thrash genre and certainly a fan favorite. The guitar duo of Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk have been together in Overkill for over 12 years now and trade off riffs and solos while the new kid on the block, drummer Jason Bittner blasts away behind his giant kit. Bittner a fellow east coaster was a big Overkill fan his entire life and with the end of Shadows Fall, Bittner is now living the dream with Overkill and is certainly the perfect drummer for the job.
Other song highlights included “Necroshine”, “Feel the Fire” and the main set ended with the breakneck “Ironbound”. A four song encore included the mandatory “Rotten to the Core” and of course a cover of the Subhumans “Fuck You”.
The world is a better place with new Overkill music and having them tour again and again – long live these Garden State thrash masters! The Wings Over the USA tour runs through March 14 where the band finishes up in their home state of New Jersey.
Overkill Set List:
Last Man Standing | Electric Rattlesnake | Hello From the Gutter | Elimination | Bring Me the Night | Head of a Pin | Necroshine | Under One | Bastard Nation | Mean, Green, Killing Machine | Feel the Fire | Ironbound
Encore: Coma | Rotten to the Core | Fuck You (The Subhumans cover) | Welcome to the Garden State | Fuck You (Reprise)
Exhorder Photo Gallery:
Overkill Photo Gallery: