Owing to the venue’s policy to take a donation for an animal shelter for guest access, and only accepting cash in this digital age, I had to queue twice after being instructed to find the nearest ATM and come back with physical currency. Sadly, this meant I got to miss an additional 15 minutes of the Flotsam and Jetsam set and they were just finishing “Recover” and kicking off “No Place For Disgrace” as I walked in and made my way to the front. So while I can’t vouch for this being the case for the rest of their show, Eric A.K.’s vocals were perfectly audible and you could hear every note he hit while belting out the lyrics. The same goes for Michael Gilbert’s exquisitely performed leads along with Michael Spencer’s bass and Steve Conley’s guitar. All were doing their level best to try and drown out Ken Mary’s extremely rapid drumming, but they needn’t have worried as he knew exactly when to soften up his blows on the skins to allow the mellow bridge to lull you slightly before taking your head off for the final salvo. I’m sure I missed a great show, as I was told they played “Desecrator” and “Hammerhead” from their much lauded début album, which would have been interesting to hear if it stands up to their newer material.

Now I’m pretty certain I’ve seen Destruction before, but it was a bloody long time ago, that’s for certain. And sometimes when watching an act you are unfamiliar with and they are just ‘okay’, you can’t wait for them to get finished so you can watch the bands you came to see. This was definitely not the case here. It didn’t take them very long into “Curse The Gods” to make their presence more than just heard but felt too, as the bass rumbled through your diaphragm. Schmier and Damir Eskić kept swapping mics and sides of the stage all night, but during “Release From Agony” Schmier whacked his bass head against the hanging speakers, which a smaller man would’ve been hard pressed to do, so they took a couple minutes to retune the bass before launching into “Nailed To The Cross” which got the circle pit going and everyone roaring, whether they knew the lyrics or not. There was a chap flailing the mosh pit around in a ‘blood’ stained apron, but it was only after they introduced “Mad Butcher” that I understood why. Quite literally littered with leads was “Life Without Sense” as it took the pace down a touch before having “Total Desaster” build things up again and whip everyone into another frenzy. It’s rare that you get a sequel to a song in the same set, but “The Butcher Strikes Back” did just that. During “Thrash Till Death”, Randy Black snapped a stick that clouted Mike in the back of the head, but carried on playing for nearly two thirds of the song before having enough of a break in the tempo to snatch up a replacement and finish the song without further issue. They finished their set with the highly energetic “Bestial Invasion” leaving everyone rather spent, but luckily there was sufficient time during the break for everyone to get their breath back before Overkill stole the show.

Wasting absolutely no time with intro tapes, Overkill came on stage already playing their guitars after Jason Bittner snuck in behind the drum kit under cover of darkness, but it was when Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth opened his yaw and spewed out the vocals to “Last Man Standing” that we knew the Wrecking Crew were in the house. Bobby’s voice and D.D. Verni’s rather distinct thundering bass are what make Overkill stand out, even during the slower pieces of “Electric Rattlesnake” you can’t help but bang your head in appreciation. All other moshes thus far paled in comparison when we recognised “Hello From The Gutter”, but somehow “Elimination” still managed to step things up even further. And if you want a sing along song, where everyone happily roars out the lyrics, then you need look no further than “Deny The Cross” with its catch chorus. Heading from a 30-year-old song to one that’s only just been released and “Head of a Pin” went down a treat with everyone, with Dave Linsk’s blistering leads filled out by Derek “The Skull” Tailer’s majestic rhythm playing. The lights dimmed and we heard a gently building guitar and locomotive rhythm that exploded into what could only be “Necroshine” which brought the body surfers to the fore as they hurled themselves over the crowd to land on the other side of the barriers in the arms of the bouncers, but it was still D.D.’s bass that rattled our teeth in our skulls. They followed this with two songs about solidarity and unification, “Under One” and “Bastard Nation” before giving us one you could be mistaken to think is about themselves in the form of “Mean, Green, Killing Machine”, but rather just continues the theme of the previous two. Now heading back to the beginning to end their set, we were given “Feel The Fire” and “Rotten To The Core” to get our blood boiling and necks snapping in unison.

After what felt like way too long in the dark, considering how hyped up we all were, they returned to give us “Ironbound” before letting us know how they really felt with the expected “Fuck You”. Having been the focal point all night long with his antics and stage presence Bobby bid us “Welcome to the Garden State” before revoking our New Jersey citizenship for not being loud enough @ the end of the song. And as was to be expected, they ended the night with one final emphatic “Fuck You”!

19 albums and still going strong, and long may it continue.

Marco Gaminara