Twenty years strong, Overkill may never get its due. The Jersey band has long been relegated to thrash's B-squad, though it's stayed in better shape than nearly all its peers and superiors. The band's last disc, 2003's Killbox 13
(as in, "Hey, Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax: We have 13 albums"), wasn't so much underrated as ignored. Ironically, the album might have been the best 1988-style metal disc in recent memory, though its arrival was completely drowned out by all the excited chatter about Metallica's then-imminent St. Anger
, a rumored return to form that didn't have half the kick of Overkill's "Unholy" or "Damned."
The new ReliXIV (that's Latin for "Hey, we have 14 albums now") is the band's first self-produced affair. The tinny platter has more clunkers than its predecessor, but if "Bats in the Belfry" doesn't make you bang your head, you're a poseur. The disc closes with the sing-along "Old School," a curious mix of thrash and sea chanteys. "Here's to the old school," they roar like besotted metal pirates. Hear, hear.