A band's hard-core fans will always lament a perceived betrayal of its original aesthetic, audience, and/or values. (Cough, Metallica.) So then kudos to thrash icons Overkill for sticking to its roots and getting better with age. Like, seriously better. Emerging on the New York scene in the early '80s, the quintet has spent three decades branding its speed, fierce riffs, and the exceptional, high-pitched (and borderline cartoony) vocals of Bobby Ellsworth.
Throughout 15 albums, Overkill has remained relatively consistent, with 1991's Horrorscope standing as the heavy fan favorite. Aside from single "Hello From the Gutter" making it to MTV, the band never moved beyond steady appreciation from the underground. However, Ironbound, released in January, may be its finest work to date. From the ambitious eight-minute opener "The Green and Black" — boasting ear-melting bass lines and Ellsworth's classic vocal range — to the atmospheric effects and subsequent grit of "The Head and Heart," the adrenaline-fueled Ironbound pays homage to the early thrash that Overkill helped create. Fans should be pleased.