Overkill Still Haven’t Left The Gutter
Wings Over The USA Tour comes to Charlotte
Veteran thrashers Overkill, along with Exhorder and Hydraform, took over The Underground at The Fillmore Charlotte on March 12, 2020. My biggest question pre-show was whether or not it would even take place. As I write this, I’m sure most everyone is aware coronavirus concerns are prompting cancellations of any large gatherings, concerts and sporting events in particular. But this show did go on, and with careful consideration and a few reasonable precautions, so did I.
The crowd was a little sparse at the start but welcomed opener, Hydraform, enthusiastically. Hailing from Denver, CO Hydraform are relative newcomers in comparison to their tourmates but performed with aplomb.
They showed off some strong dynamics by alternating softer, slower, almost gentle passages with fast riffs and a more hard-hitting sound. Vocalist Carter Pashko also switches easily between melodic, clean vocals and a more guttural style. Overall I was quite impressed and hopefully, they make it back to Charlotte in the future.
Fans continued to trickle in, and although the venue wasn’t full, it was still a good turnout for Thursday night. Exhorder picked a great opening track in “My Time” as the long instrumental opening allowed anticipation to build, longer than planned actually. A brief technical issue rendered singer Kyle Thomas temporarily mute, but was quickly corrected and was the only noticeable hiccup in the entire evening.
With guitarist Vinnie Labella and the band parting ways shortly before the beginning of the tour, Exhorder has been performing as a quartet. This in no way seemed detrimental to their performance. It was a spirited, energetic performance slowing only briefly during the somber “(Cadence of) The Dirge.” The song was dedicated to guitarist Marzi Montazeri’s uncle as well as former Corrosion of Conformity drummer, Reed Mullin.
I would have liked Exhorder’s time to have been longer, but headliner Overkill revved things up almost exactly two hours after the first note of the night. Time hasn’t slowed them down any as they mashed the pedal to the floor starting with “Last Man Standing” and didn’t let up.
Everyone seemed in a jovial mood. Frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth taunted the fans, “I’ll take all of you on.” Rhythm guitarist Derek Tailer bounced a few picks into the audience off my head while I was in the photo pit. (Good velocity, but considering the size of my head, no credit for his aim.) Bassist D.D. Verni and drummer Jason Bittner laid down some crushing rhythms, and lead guitarist David Linsk only seemed low key in comparison.
The setlist spanned a whopping ten albums. From Feel the Fire (1985) to The Wings of War (2019), that’s a lot of ground to cover. Remarkable that Overkill can produce a sound that’s easily recognizable as their own, yet not seem like it’s just the same thing over and over again. After a four-song encore including the obligatory cover of The Subhumans’ “Fuck You”, it was all over. Not quite two hours, but it seemed much briefer, always the sign of a good show.
I would tell you to catch one of the remaining dates on the tour, but there are only two more scheduled, and those remain in doubt. They’re still on for now, but with new cancellations coming in by the minute, I think it unlikely they will occur as scheduled. So if the tour does come to an abrupt end, at least it ended on a high note.