Two dates into their UK tour, thrash legends OVERKILL grace the stage of Manchester’s Sound Control. They have had an extensive career, and are set to go into the studio for their 18th album. Can the band that has led a wrecking crew for nearly 40 years match up to the name they live up to?
Opening proceedings for the evening were ONE MACHINE, a band that is gaining some serious traction in the modern metal scene. For many in attendance in the packed venue, this was their first exposure to the new British metallers. With the band’s debut, The Final Cull, released last year the band barraged the crowd with tracks from the album in order to give an indication of what they were trying to achieve. For moments, it worked well for ONE MACHINE. The title track from the record’s swinging riffs kept heads nodding, and the slick licks from guitarist Steve Smyth were impressive to say the least. And whilst there is no doubting the relentless enthusiasm from frontman Chris Hawkins, who delivered a rather varying vocal performance, his consistent hyper-activity became more agitating as the set drew on. There is no doubting the potential for ONE MACHINE, yet their performance felt forced and ultimately left little that is memorable.
VADER are a band that has stood against the test of time, having a career that has spanned over 30 years with their ability to infuse death metal with hints of thrash. They are one of the biggest pioneers of the genre and in metal alone; their performance at Sound Control was no different. From the get-go, the band’s intent was clear; refined death metal carnage. From the opening blasts from James Stewart‘s VADER roared into life through Wings. With the setlist balanced finely covering the band’s extensive career, this was a performance catered for the fans. The slick riffs on Come and See My Sacrifice incited chaos in the pit and Halleluyah!!! (God Is Dead) received some of the loudest roars of the evening.
Musically, the band were a well-oiled machine that delivered the ferocious musical assault. James Stewart‘s drumming was menacing and highly intense, Tomasz Halicki‘s bass was toned to crushing levels and the combination of Marek Pajak and Piotr Wiwczarek‘s guitars kept heads banging; with the latter delivering some truly spectacular snarls and growls. VADER have built their career on relentless and gut-busting death metal and their performance truly reflected that.
OVERKILL have been around for almost 40 years, creating a huge name for themselves within the thrash and heavy metal scene. Starting the show with XDM and Armorist, it was clear this concert would be one to remember. Charismatic and cheerful, frontman Bobby Blitz made sure that the crowd was in the palm of his hand, memorising each individual with their most powerful songs.
The energy of the crowd continued, especially as Feel the Fire begun. There was a feeling in the air that could only be that of a pure heavy metal concert. Throughout the entire show, there was an obvious pleasure in the eyes of each member as they played to their adoring audience and the same was displayed back to them as they played. For many it might have appeared that for a band of their experience, playing in somewhere as small as Sound Control would have been a crime but it played in their favour, creating a more intimate and connecting feel.
There was no surprise as to how OVERKILL have gained their success as a band, they kept their entire set current but making sure that the fans were getting the classics that they asked for. They have had years of constructing their sound and their stage manner and without a doubt, they did it spot on. There is something very special about a band that play to their audience with grins on their faces, it shows that they enjoy what they do and that they are getting as much satisfaction out of the music as the crowd are and from start to finish of their set, each and every member did not stop grinning.
It does keep going back to experience with OVERKILL and their performance, but they have not left themselves in the past. They continue to be as present as possible and their set was just that. OVERKILL in a live setting is everything you want, the band drive their New Jersey fuelled roots right through every individual, passing on the adrenaline they have to the audience. Watching to watch frontman Bobby Blitz run around on stage chaotically was almost like watching a very pleasant old comedy sketch as the stage was just that little bit too small, especially as he tried to hide behind all of the monitors, only to see his face poke cheekily out.
After an extensive 19 track set, it was clear as day that OVERKILL are still one of the best bands on the scene. To be able to hold an audience for so long and have those engage from start to finish can often be a difficult task but the New Jersey men are no strangers to understanding how to keep everyone in the palm of their hand at their shows and they did just that. They played just as you would expect, fast, furious and energetic and without a doubt, with 110%.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester below: