Venue: The Forge – Joliet, Illinois
Special Guest: Crowbar, Havok, Black Fast, Invidia
Date: Friday, September 8th, 2017
Reviewed by: Michael Juvinall – Horror Patch
***A very special thanks to venue The Forge in Joliet, Illinois!***
Overkill are American thrash metal heroes. They are one of the longest running thrash metal bands in existence. They even predate the giants such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax by at least one year. The band formed in 1980 and hasn’t stopped tearing it up ever since. I’ve listened to the band since day one and I’ve been with them through all their ups (mostly ups) and downs. They’re a metal band that most fans can relate to, that’s why they’re so popular and have made it this long. They are an everyman’s band, a band for the people who get up and bust their ass working every day to make ends meet. A band that both men and women who after a long, grueling day at work, can come home and unwind with a little bit of thrash from Overkill.
This Friday night in September, the line for this band at the wonderful venue, The Forge in Joliet, Illinois was long, and it wrapped out the door and around the corner of the building. So far, the end could barely be seen. Loyalty – that’s what brings out the fans to see Overkill and sells out most venues. That’s when you know you’re in for a helluva night with some awesome thrash metal to come. Anticipation fills the air, making it so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Fans waiting in line are talking about one thing – Overkill. Most people’s concert shirts have the band plastered all over them and I noticed one which said it all and is one of the band’s anthems – “In Union We Stand”!
Starting the night off was the band INVIDIA – Out of Las Vegas, Nevada. They are a straightforward metal band that defies classification. Not thrash, death, doom, metalcore, just regular heavy metal – and I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing at all. They had their own vibe on stage with an amped up lead singer. They didn’t get the crowd moving too much, but there weren’t that many people out this early in the show anyways.
Their set lasted for 30 minutes and they played well. They are excellent musicians but I wasn’t really into their sound. They weren’t my kind of band.
The second band of the evening was BLACK FAST out of St. Louis. These guys are thrash metal maniacs that sent the crowd moshing. The band has only been a unit since 2010 but they sure do have their act together. I simply loved Frontman Aaron Akin’s voice. He had almost the perfect pitch of his death growl that sounded great to me. This is a young, hungry band and they aimed to please this crowd and for the most part, they did. Their musicianship was top notch with the guitars sounding clear and crisp. The only problem I had was their songs tended to sound like one another, with not enough uniqueness between them. It’s a gripe buy many bands are this way when they play live.
Black Fast played for 30 minutes but it was a rip ‘roaring ride and they gave everyone an impressive set. I would see these guys again, maybe when they could play a longer set and show off more of their work.
2 1/2 pentagrams!
Next up was Denver based thrash metal band HAVOK. When this band started up their set, they really woke up the crowd with their fierce metal attack. These guys have been around for a while and were really killing it. Their musicianship was tight and their twin guitar assault was on point. Their sound and energy were like chumming the water to work up sharks but only with the kids in the mosh pit instead. The crowd was at a fever pitch.
Havok played for 30 minutes but that wasn’t nearly enough time to give the crowd what they wanted, a full-on thrash attack. These guys rock and I would really love to see them again as this was the first time for me checking them out.
3 ½ Pentagrams!
The next to last band to take the stage was New Orleans own doom/sludge metal stalwarts CROWBAR! Again, this is a band that I have never had the opportunity to see live and I’m glad I did. At first appearance, they don’t really have the look of a doom metal band or a metal band at all. The two founding members, Todd Strange and Kirk Windstein are two fat, bald, old guys playing the guitar onstage, but let me tell you they can shred with the best of them. It should teach me and all of you to never judge a book by its cover, as the adage says. Anyway, enough about their look, let’s get to their music. I’m a huge fan of doom metal and Crowbar fits right in to that mold. Their music is slow, and heavy with lots of low-tuned guitars. If you like your metal extra-crunchy, these guys are for you.
Luckily, they had a little bit longer time on stage and played for 40 minutes. Crowbar is an awesome band with a southern twist.
3 ½ Pentagrams!
At long last, the mighty OVERKILL took to the stage to the crowd’s immense pleasure. The loudest roar of the night rang out when singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth literally jumped onto the stage. This band has such a commanding stage presence, it’s like nothing I’ve seen before with any band. Blitz had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the first song until the last. He really knew how to talk up the crowd and make us feel at home. He asked about Chicago’s baseball teams, were the Cubbies going to make it to the series again this year? Too bad for the White Sox. He didn’t care because he was a Mets fan. He was cracking jokes and making the Chicago crowd feel special. You just can’t turn that on easily, it’s from years and years of touring to be able to relate to the audience like that.
This band was tight and sounded incredible. At one point, Blitz introduced their new drummer Jason Bittner and told the crowd this was his first US tour. And what an incredible drummer he is. Bittner tore it up back on the skins. Blitz Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni are the only two original members left in the band. Watching these two play off each other was something special to see. Verni is an amazing bassist and Blitz’s vocals are supreme. Guitarist’s Dave Linsk and Derek “The Skull” Tailer were exceptional, their twin guitar attack was spectacular.
Overkill played a nice variety of their discography. They led things off with some tracks from their newest album, The Grinding Wheel and then played mostly old-school material which was fine with me because that’s my favorite material from them. Their setlist is as follows:
- Mean, Green, Killing Machine
- Rotten to the Core
- Electric Rattlesnake
- Hello From the Gutter
- In Union We Stand
- Goddamn Trouble
- Wrecking Crew
- I Hate
- Shine On
- Thanx for Nothin’
- Fuck You
If I have one gripe about their show, I would say it’s too short. They played for 75 minutes and didn’t seem long enough. They could’ve played for another two hours and everyone there would’ve been happy but it is what it is.
If you want true American thrash metal, then Overkill is your band. They don’t let costumes or makeup or stage theatrics get in the way, they just play and play and play. Their show is worth every cent of admission. They’re brutally heavy and when the show’s over you’ll feel like you’ve been run over by the Wrecking Crew!
5 out of 5 Pentagrams!