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Live Reviews : Overkill, Harlott & Direblaze @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 02/03/2018

By on March 3, 2018

Images: John Raptis
Words: Damien Kalinowski

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It’s been a good number of years since the thrash metal powerhouse that is Overkill have played our shores so this show was gearing up to be something else as these New Jersey legends were gracing 170 Russell with two of Australia’s finest thrash acts opening the bill.

First out of the gate is Direblaze and it has to be asked, how are these guys not at the top of Australia’s current crop of metal bands doing our country proud? Without even muttering a simple ‘Hello’, these local lads ripped straight into some of the most mind-blowing riff-heavy aggressive metal going around today. A band packed with solid songs, powerful vocals and precise musicianship, they deserve more than just your attention, they should be under the watchful eyes of every label and promoter across the globe. Armed with two solid releases and more guitar licks than should be humanly possible, to put it simply, take every great thing you’ve ever heard from the best thrash bands of the last 30 years, combine it all together and that is Direblaze. Riff after riff of brutal basslines and punishing guitar work over blast beats that have their drummer doing some serious overtime. I don’t know how these guys are going unnoticed in the grand scheme of things but it needs to change. They can match any band of the ilk and they should be supported. Do yourself a favour and catch these guys the next time they play because your ears will love you for it and you couldn’t have picked a better opener.

Melbourne’s Harlott followed with their brand of Bay-area inspired thrash to the hordes of people who had survived the sonic pounding they received from the opener. These guys have been making waves in the metal scene and it’s obvious to see why. They delivered some pretty menacing riffage that went over a storm with the punters preparing them for what was to come from the one and only wrecking crew. Harlott’s latest album, Extinction, is a solid piece of work and definitely worth checking out, if you haven’t already.

The mean green killing machine known as Overkill are unspoken heroes of the thrash metal world. Why they’re not included in the big four will forever remain a mystery. These guys deliver the goods in every way possible and from mere seconds into the first song, it’s obvious why. Overkill are the whole package. They have the songs, the energy and a frontman who captivates an audience with every screeching word in the form of Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth. Sure, the oldschool numbers like Hello From The Gutter and Rotten To The Core go down an absolute treat every time, the former being one of the best examples of the thrash metal genre, but their newer songs are on par with anything else they have released. These guys stick to a winning formula and it works and is no doubt appreciated by every punter in attendance.

Packed with that 70s NYC punk rock angst and the high energy of hardcore, Overkill’s blend of metal really sets them apart and is probably the secret to their longevity. In their 30+ year career, they never tried to be anything but Overkill and that’s what makes them awesome. Coma, Horrorscope, Electric Rattlesnake, I Hate, Hammerhead, the hits just kept coming one after the other and the energy levels on stage prove that bassist DD Verni’s metal machine just doesn’t let up for a split second giving the audience an energetic experience of a lifetime. You could be standing still and you’d be exhausted, they’re just that damn good.

Not ones to leave an audience starved for more, they tear through a roaring version of Elimination before finishing with their staple rendition of the Suhumans’ war cry, Fuck You, mixed with a very fitting version of Motorhead’s Overkill. With middle fingers raised, Overkill bid their farewells and left the stage. Sure, there will always be songs we hope to hear in an Overkill set but at the end of the day, they came, we saw, they smashed through one hell of a set leaving no one unsatisfied. Culling tracks from their extensive catalogue must be a hard task but whatever they choose seems to hit it perfectly. No complaints here.

It has to be said, this show was thrash metal at its finest and a night all three bands should be proud of being a part of. From the sonic assault of Direblaze, to the anthems of Harlott, to the uncrowned kings of thrash in Overkill, this show was living proof that the metal community and the genre itself is alive and well.