Feel The Fire


Megafroce, 1985


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Every artist or band has to get their start somewhere, and it’s not often a surprise if that initial effort is more of a tentative big toe into the water rather than a complete cannonball dive. This proved to be especially true with numerous heavy metal acts in the ’80s who eventually made big names for themselves.

One glaring exception is with the New York-based quartet Overkill. Their 1985 debut effort Feel The Fire might not feature the strongest songwriting they would ever do, and vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s trademark screeches are not constantly present, but this one turns out to be a respectfully good first outing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sonically, the production ends up hampering the overall effort—something that would take a little time for the band to correct. At times, drummer Rat Skates’s trap work is mixed to the point he sounds out of time with the remainder of the band; the opening track “Raise The Dead” proves to be somewhat difficult to get through as a result.

Fortunately for the band, they’re able to correct this fairly quickly, and the remainder of Feel The Fire becomes, at the worst, listenable—and, at the best, fairly exciting to listen to. The title track, “Kill At Command” and “Overkill” all showcase a band that, like it or not, was proving that they were going to be around for a good long time. The guitar work of Bobby Gustafson is especially noteworthy, as his playing pushes several songs into the stratosphere.

On this debut Ellsworth is still coming into his own as a vocalist, and often actually takes more of a low-key approach to the material. Whether it’s because he chose to sing portions of songs in a lower octave, or because he was still developing the higher-pitched delivery that made later songs like “Elimination” killer, his vocals end up being a lesser presence than one might be used to. It’s not that he’s singing badly, it’s just it’s not the delivery fans would come to know and love.

Songwriting-wise, Feel The Fire is good, but not the strongest material the band would offer in their catalog. Tracks like “There’s No Tomorrow,” “Blood And Iron” and “Hammerhead” aren’t bad by any means, but one would be hard-pressed to say they’d become staples in their daily diet.

Still, Feel The Fire sets Overkill apart from many of their contemporaries, in that the album overall sounds more complete, and the material more polished, than several other debut efforts that come to mind. That reason alone should be enough for those looking to discover what this band was all about to give this one a fair spin.

Rating: B-

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