Written by Alex Stojanovic
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang (Ted Nugent cover)
Toys In The Attic (Aerosmith cover)
Evil (Cactus cover)
Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers (ZZ Top cover)
Saturday Night Special (Lynard Skynard cover)
Tattoo Vampire (Blue Oyster Cult cover)
D.O.A. (Van Halen cover)
Walk Away (The James Gang cover)
Never In My Life (Mountain cover)
We're An American Band (Grand Funk Railroad cover)
Release Date: June 12, 2020
Label: Napalm Records
Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (Overkill) - Vocals / Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs / ex-Dream Theater) - Drums
Mark Menghi (Metal Allegiance) - Bass / Phil Demmel (Vio-Lence / ex-Machine Head) - Guitars
I also thought that the record would be released through Nuclear Blast Records, but I was wrong on that front too, because it turns out that it will be released through Napalm Records. The four members cover artists such as Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Van Halen, ZZ Top, Lynard Skynard and Blue Oyster Cult to name a few. When you look at the track listing, the song selection is quite good, because for one, they didn't really pick any obvious songs from each band (except for one). Instead of picking obvious songs like "Cat Scratch Fever", "Sweet Home Alabama", "Tush", "Walk This Way" and "Don't Fear The Reaper", all of which have been covered to death over the years, I'm glad that they went with some different choices, and I think that's what makes this album stand out, because I am so much the "anti-hit" guy, and a lot of other die-hard rock and metal fans will feel the same way.
The cover of the Ted Nugent classic "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" opens the album. At the start, Blitz does his own little rendition of Nugent's banter before this song was played on Double Live Gonzo. The production is one of the highpoints, and it gives these great American rock classics a great metallic feel, and also kind of breathes new life into them. Some of the standouts from a musical standpoint, include "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang", Aerosmith's "Toys In The Attic", ZZ Top's "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" and Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band". The latter is pretty much the only song that can be considered an obvious track, because it has been covered by a number of bands already, most notably Rob Zombie.
As I stated in my review of the last Overkill album Wings Of War, my stance on Blitz's vocals has changed over the years. I used to be a big fan of his vocals, but I've come to realize that his vocals are an acquired taste for a lot of people, and I just happened to be one of those people, and I felt like I was forcing myself to love his vocals. With several of the songs, Blitz's vocals just butcher them. The album would've been miles better if they got a different singer. Sorry, Blitz. However, Blitz's weak vocal performances are offset by the awesome musicianship by Menghi, Portnoy and Demmel.
I will say that as a frontman, Blitz is phenomenal. It's just that his vocals are often hit or miss. The only track where Blitz seems to do a rather good job all the way through is "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers". Other than that, his good moments are more sporadic throughout the remainder of the album. While we're on the subject of Blitz, I was kind of wondering if he got the inspiration for the vocal melody for the verse of Overkill's "Bitter Pill" from Van Halen's "D.O.A.", because they sound very very similar. Now, I'm obviously not going to tell you to not check this album out, just because I said that cover albums don't excite me and that most of Blitz's vocal performances are weak, because my opinion is not the be-all-end-all of anything. Give this album a shot, because many of these classics sound amazing with the modern production and being given a more metallic treatment.
Highs: Great collection of American rock classics beefed up with modern production covered by some of metal's most respected musicians.
Lows: Blitz's vocals didn't really work on just about all the songs.
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