OverkillThe Wings Of War (Nuclear Blast)

Keeping the creative juices fresh when recording your 19th studio album – indeed, your fifth opus since the turn of the decade – is no mean feat. Yet veteran thrashers Overkill have more than lived up to that challenge with The Wings Of War.

Its predecessor, 2017’s The Grinding Wheel, was more than good enough for long-time fans, but a brighter flame lights up this release… and there’s a greater sense of urgency. The writing is potent and polished, and there’s a balance to The Wings Of War which makes it a cohesive, engaging piece of work. From punchy opener Last Man Standing to the rampant conclusion of Hole In My Soul, there’s very little fat. These Jersey boys barely waste a minute. They’re not here to fuck about, let’s put it that way.

Welcome To The Garden State sees Bobby Blitz Ellsworth and co. scoop up the snot and spit of their punk roots and hurl it all over you in a defiant, frantic tribute to their home turf. But that song is then followed by the brooding, mid-paced menace of Where Few Dare To Walk and a pumped-up, double-kick powered rager in the form of Out On The Road-Kill. Distortion brings the heavy grooves, Believe In The Fight, the 80s thrash class. Like we said, balance.

And a band who have a knack of conjuring up crowd-pleasing anthems (Hammerhead, Elimination et al) have done so once again with Bat Shit Crazy, which lives up to its name: Ellsworth sounds absolutely maniacal over Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer’s mighty riffery, and the song is made for the stage. Plus, with former Shadows Fall man Jason Bittner parked on the drum stool, the band have a formidable engine, one that can deal with their bursts of pace and rapid gear shifts.

Given their work rate, Overkill will probably have another record out in a couple of years… but they’d be doing well if they topped The Wings Of War.

One to savour.