Good old-fashioned radio play inspired me to pick up The Electric Age, with an advanced spin of "Electric Rattlesnake" calling out to me with, again, an early era Motörhead-esque aesthetic. But then, something extra. Where Motörhead may have stopped the song at three minutes, Overkill transform the track into a killer, bass-drenched groove that lumbers along for a minute and a half before kicking back into gear for another two frenzied minutes. The end result is easily the most exciting thing I have heard on the radio in years.
With this write-up only two paragraphs in and already overburdened with Motörhead references it seems like, well, overkill to trot out others but "Wish You Were Dead" channels all that anyone could ever love about the best of Accept and "Save Yourself" comes across as a straight-up "Rapid Fire" Priest tribute. Despite all these obvious influences The Electric Age elevates above potential classic metal pastiche and instead seats itself firmly as peer to these acts, many of whom have battled inconsistency across less expansive discographies. And, going back and listening to my own limited Overkill collection, The Electric Age, more than anything, sounds like Overkill. Only better.
The Electric Age is brimming with hooky-as-fuck thrash riffing, exceptionally audible, chunky bass and crisp, bright percussion. Dave Linsk's leads are nothing short of stellar. I love Bobby Ellsworth's vocals which, if anything, just seem to improve with age. The record is, largely, a non-stop assault and peaks with second half's "Drop the Hammer Down," "Old Wounds, New Scars" and "All Over But the Shouting." This is full-volume, fist-pumping singalong metal, old school that stands out in the best way possible against the backdrop of present-day metal. "Old Wounds, New Scars" is easily the album's pinnacle, with insane percussion coupled with fretboards that have to be in flames and topped off with one of the most infectious choruses I've heard in a long, long time in got a lot of mouth for a Jersey white boy / beat the drum now you've gone too far...
There are a supposed Big Four in thrash and, admittedly, I'm a fan of all of them. With the exception of Anthrax, though, three of 'em appear to be getting a little too comfortable in those spots, playing it relatively safe - and, some say, increasingly dull - in recent years. The Electric Age should keep everyone looking over their shoulders. The time is past when one could file Overkill away as dumb fun. This is serious fun, wrapped in denim and leather, soaked in beer and concerned with nothing more than splitting your skull in two across fifty minutes. Mission accomplished.