heavy metal

Overkill and Death Angel at the Delmar Hall: When East Coast thrash and West Coast thrash clash in the Midwest

<img src=""; alt=“Overkill live photo 2" width="750" height="586">

My four-concerts-in-two-weeks stride came to its conclusion on Cinco de Mayo with what was perhaps the most anticipated concert of all of them, an Overkill show at the Delmar Hall. This was cause for excitement for many metal fans in the St. Louis area, as many had never seen the band live before because this was the band’s first appearance here in about a dozen years. Besides that, they had a solid new album to share with audiences across the world.

Due to the fact that I was busy with work, I only caught the last three or four songs from San Francisco Bay Area legends before I finally walked in. Mark was in the middle of discussing how this was their first time touring with Overkill (interestingly enough, there was talk of both bands touring with Anthrax back in 2011). He discussed their love for the music, and their history with performing in St. Louis, the kind of ramblings we’ve all heard before but agree with wholeheartedly. The band treated us to a new song called “Humanicide”, which impressed me even though I haven’t really kept up with the band’s 21st century material. They also played the first minute of the “The Ultra-Violence”, an instrumental that is rather lengthy but has a natural flow to it, before closing with “Kill As One”. While this is one of my top 3 favorite Death Angel songs, it was not as exciting to watch them play it live as you might think. It was played at a much slower pace live, even when you expected the bridge of the song to really hit you hard, they still played that part slower, and it sounded like they were doing it on purpose, too. As a result, the song lost some of the punch and aggression that it had on the original recording. In spite of this, the audience seemed to give a stronger response to Death Angel than they did to Overkill. It was neat to watch the four standing performers headbanging together, though.

<img src=""; alt=“Death Angel live photo" width="750" height="586">

Overkill seemed thrilled to be returning to St. Louis and received a hell of a welcome from an enthusiastic, metal-craving crowd of 300-350 people or so. Though I still believe that Death Angel received a more impressive reaction overall, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth sensed the loyalty of the crowd and expressed it by shouting to them, “I smell barbecue, I smell beer, I smell heavy metal, this must be motherf**kin’ St. Louis!” Yet it’s not just his humor or even his wonderful vocals, which have held up so well even now as he’s 60, that make him one of the most charismatic frontmen in metal history. Watching him narrate every song with all sorts of different hand gestures sets Blitz apart from many other vocalists. His various hand movements can visually accompany a song and its story the same way a music video does. Hey, it’s a lot more entertaining and creative than watching a vocalist simply air-guitar while actual guitarists are jamming right beside him! Newcomer Jason Bittner is the best Overkill drummer since founding member Rat Skates, if not the best drummer of the band’s career! He hits his green drum kit so aggressively, and you can tell that he pushes the rest of the band to be at their best and fiercest. Bittner seems to add his personal touch to many songs (usually making them heavier in the process), but guitarist Dave Linsk prefers to keep guitar solos from before his arrival to the band close to the original recording. Oddly enough, there didn’t seem to be quite so much moshing going on until they played “Ironbound” at the encore. After that, Bobby gave us another one of his best song introductions by joking to the audience, “I don’t speak Missouri and don’t speak much English. I speak a little bit of Jersey and a lot of heavy metal”, then raised his middle fingers and said, “…but my sign language is just perfect!” While “F**k You” is traditionally their closing tune, I never liked the idea of a band closing their set with a cover tune. This time around, they closed with a rather punk-ish new thrasher that could easily constitute as crossover called “Welcome to the Garden State”. Some might not appreciate the idea of a band closing with a new song rather than an oldie either, but it worked perfectly as a conclusion to the set. Because the song summarizes the band as a whole with its tough New Jersey pride and attitude, I could easily see it taking the place of “F**k You” and ending every Overkill show for years to come.

Last Man Standing
Electric Rattlesnake
Hello From the Gutter
Deny the Cross
Head of a Pin
Some mid-period song I didn’t recognize
Under One
Bastard Nation
Drum/bass solo
Feel the Fire
Mean, Green Killing Machine
Rotten to the Core

Encore: Ironbound
F**k You (The Subhumans/The Stiffs cover)
Welcome to the Garden State

You may have heard me say before that I feel like Kansas City tends to have a more rabid metal crowd than St. Louis does, but based on the energetic insanity at the last three concerts I’ve seen on the eastern side of the state, I think I may have to eat my words. The kind of passion and support I’ve seen this spring tells me that the St. Louis metal army is overlooked, but they’re as strong and as savage as anywhere else. You could tell that bassist D.D. Verni would agree by the way he yelled, “Hell yes, motherf**kers!” towards the end of the set. Other musicians will see that too as more bands make their way to the area, the days of being neglected for years on end are about to be a thing of the past. Hey, they don’t call us the Show-Me State for nothing!

<img src=""; alt=“Overkill live photo" width="750" height="586">

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Tags:  OverkillDeath AngelThrash metalDelmar HallSt. Louis

    August 02, 2019

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