Overkilling the Masses
Overkill at Player's Nightclub in Raleigh, NC, May 10, 1996 with guests Life of Agony
by: Ernest Crvich
Sometime ago, around 1987, your friend and humble narrator had the fortune of hearing a song called "Wrecking Crew" on a compilation (_Power Chords_, if I'm not mistaken) obtained through a record club. Overkill's album _Taking Over_ soon found itself in my collection, followed over the years by all of their other releases, from _Feel The Fire_ to _The Killing Kind_. You could say I was hooked.

Almost a decade later, with _The Killing Kind_ as the newest disc on the shelf, the wrecking crew is still hard at work, albeit with only two of its original members remaining. After all this time, I'd never had the opportunity to see them live. I had, of course, heard their two live recordings (_!!!Fuck You!!!_ and _Wrecking Your Neck_), but that surely couldn't compare to the real thing, right?

Finally, on May 10th, 1996, Player's Nightclub in North Carolina's capital city of Raleigh hosted Overkill, along with opening act Life Of Agony. It was a night to remember for local Overkill fans; impressive for most and disappointing to only a few. Due to a somewhat late arrival, I apparently missed two local bands who performed before Life Of Agony. My apologies to both bands for my lack of coverage here.

When Brooklyn's Life Of Agony hit the stage, the small crowd (anywhere from 50 to 100 people) was visibly excited. A tiny and rather tame pit instantly began in front of the stage, but died down soon after. The band simply wasn't fast enough or violent enough to give most of the crowd what they needed. The clean, crooning vocals certainly didn't help the situation. Although the band played well, the sound quality was good, and the guitarist was enthusiastic, their musical style just wasn't heavy enough to incite mayhem. Another disappointment was the lighting; after the first song, the typical display of flashing colors ceased, leaving a few on, unchanging, for the rest of the set. No one appeared concerned or interested in fixing them (one of the bright white lights shone into the crowd, resulting in dozens of people squinting or otherwise trying to avoid the glare). Applause was sparse between each song, but at the end of their 30-minute set, a more respectable ovation was given. No shouts of "Encore!," but no insults were heard either.

The crowd was then treated to over a half an hour of waiting while roadies prepared for Blitz, Verni, Mallare, Comeau, and Marino. Very little of this time was spent doing sound checks; it was primarily for making sure everything was in its place: drum kit, guitar stands, picks, mic stands, videocams, etc. Near the end, the lights were tested (fortunately, they were now working properly) and a smoke pump fired a few times.

The lights went out, and Overkill's intro theme thundered through the small arena (the identical one as can be heard on their live album _Wrecking Your Neck_). Tim Mallare could be seen walking on stage, waving to the cheering crowd before he took his position behind the drums. And suddenly the song "Battle" roared to life and the lights were ablaze. The pit pretty much went crazy instantly, the people on the perimeter banging their heads violently while the center was a torrent of flailing body parts.

From there it was one fast song after another, with a only a couple of slow or mid-paced songs thrown in for a breather. For me, it was nearly perfect. I've always favored Overkill's speedier, energetic songs, and that's almost all they played that night. The song list featured: "Battle", "Where It Hurts", "God-Like", "Coma", "Bold Face Pagan Stomp", "Hello From the Gutter", "Elimination", "Supersonic Hate", "Spiritual Void", the medley of "Wrecking Crew" and "Powersurge", "Burn You Down/To Ashes", "Gasoline Dream", and finally, "Thanx For Nothin'". Over an hour of pure thrashing satisfaction.

The band played very tightly, with very few (and very minor) mistakes. Blitz's voice was in good shape, assuming of course you're one of those that likes his style (I personally couldn't imagine Overkill without it, but there are some who don't agree). Guitarist Sebastian Marino seemed quite disappointed in his acoustic outro on "Gasoline Dream", but that was mostly because he was a bit out of tune (he tried valiantly to re-tune while playing). I don't think most people even noticed.

The only disappointed reactions I witnessed were two separate complaints that no songs from _Feel the Fire_ were performed (one guy kept yelling "play some old stuff" between songs, and another muttered "thanks for nothing" afterwards in a very disgusted manner). That these fellows expect the band to rehash stuff from ten years ago, when they've just released a new album, is ridiculous. If they don't like any of the newer albums, why do they even bother coming to the show? I guess you just can't please all the people all of the time... For the rest of us, Overkill was a blast. It's really impressive that they bothered coming to a relatively small area in a tiny nightclub with an even smaller metal community. Tickets were only ten dollars, and with such a small turn-out it's likely they barely made enough to even buy a beer afterwards. Cheers to the band for giving us a great show! They definitely wrecked my neck!

(article submitted 9/6/1996)

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