by David G. Thorne
This is a review I wrote for the student newspaper of City of London Polytechnic. It’s probably the first thing that I ever wrote for publication. For some reason I was at the gig on my own, (I think the mate I usually went to gigs with had gone home to Northern Ireland for the weekend.) As I recall, I had one drink all night! Holsten Pils was the norm at the Astoria. £2 a bottle. That’s probably how I was able to write a review afterwards.
Anyway, the review is presented exactly as it was written at the time and it really makes me cringe at how amateurish my writing is. Be warned, it’s very much in the style of Kerrang! magazine. Back in those days Kerrang! and Metal Hammer were the bibles of the heavy metal world, so their style was the one to emulate. At that time I had a collection of over 300 issues of Kerrang. Sadly, a little over year on from this gig grunge arrived, Kerrang! began to sell out big time and I decided to put my collection in the paper bank. I still regret that decision.
Over Kill – Astoria, London
This was US speed metal band Over Kill’s first and long overdue appearance on these shores since the “Hell On Earth” bash in Leeds back in late 1987. Their performance on that occasion, as support to Megadeth, was credible though hardly outstanding. Since then, little has been heard of the New Yorker’s in Britain. Whilst most young bands tend to become forgotten about in the onslaught of new talent, after such a long hiatus, Over Kill seem to have developed a fanatical fan-base here in Britain. (Or London at least.) A testament to the strength of their recorded work.
Tonight’s show was sold out days beforehand. The ‘bangers packed Charing Cross Road for hours prior to the doors opening, pervading the air with a sense of tension and suppressed electricity. A massive police presence outside the venue did little to quell the excitement.
Having been suitable “warmed up” by a brief set from up-coming San Francisco quintet Mordred, this audience was ready to explode. It’s rare to see a crowd so wild before a show. Unless it’s for a Slayer gig.
The moment the lights dimmed and the air filled with dry ice and the howl of air-raid sirens, the moshers erupted into a vast seething mass of flying limbs and wildly flailing hair. As opening cut, ‘Time to Kill’ hacked its way through the air I was whisked away in a whirlpool of rapidly bloodied bodies. All slamming as if their lives depended on it. Anyone who had come down expecting a sedate evening with a pint or two, was in for a rude awakening!
Despite a muddy sound mix the band rapidly gained momentum, battering the audience with such classics as ‘Powersurge’ and ‘Hello from the Gutter’. Diminutive vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth seemed to be having the time of his life. One moment on top of the P.A., the next dashing across the stage to shake hands with the rabid hordes on the other side. It’s rare to find a true showman in thrash circles but this man is it. Constantly urging the crowd to shout themselves hoarse, whilst never missing a beat, ‘Blitz’ couldn’t put a foot wrong.
Next on the menu was every one’s favourite, ‘Wrecking Crew’. Unbelievably it drove the fans into an even greater frenzy. The stage divers were pouring off the stage like lemmings. I’m sure there were a good few hundred wrecked necks after that one. A killer cut.
Of course no great show is complete without the odd moment of pure cornball, and this one was no exception. The inevitable ‘Who’s Louder?’ contest saw the two halves of the audience trying to out-do each other with chants of ‘Fuck You’ and ‘I Hate’. Still, it’s only rock ‘n’ Roll.
The lapse was only momentary, with the pace once more reaching warp speed with ‘Rotten to the Core’. By now the band were unstoppable, intend on pummelling fans and critics alike, into total submission. They had us firmly between the teeth, and were not going to let go.
As the crowd began to filter out, I witnessed several battered and bruised moshers barely able to crawl away. What do you mean, did I enjoy it?!
The only questions remaining about this band is why they haven’t scaled the same peaks of success as Metallica or Anthrax. This is probably one of only two bands with a remote chance of climbing up alongside the ‘Big Four’ of thrash. Tonight’s turn-out proves they have a substantial and committed following. Yet despite a major label contract with Atlantic, they still aren’t shifting the truckloads of albums they deserve to. Life is so unfair! Perhaps tonight’s presence of MTV is about to change all that.