Overkill - From The Underground And Below
CMC Records
Thrashy Groove Metal
10 songs (47:07)
Release year: 1997
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

STORYTIME: In the year of Zeus, 1997, I came home from school and hopped on the new fangled internet by way of America Online / AOL. Jumping into the Unholy Metal chat room, I proceed to caps lock shout random band names, with Overkill being one of them. Anyways in the middle of all that, some dude goes, "Did you get the new Overkill album?" What? You mean The Killing Kind? "No, it came out today." WHAT? Whaddya mean it came out today? What's the title, WHAT'S THE TITLE? (In the days of 28.8 baud modems, it was quicker to wait for a response in the chat room than try and load up a new web page) "It's called, From The Underground And Below." Luckily for me, after a few frantic phone calls to the stores in town there was one that had all of two copies (one of which went to me and the other went to my friend) and thankfully, despite the giant green "18 to purchase" sticker on a non parental advisory cd, the clerk sold me the brand spanking new Overkill! Yay for super conservative stores that impose their morals on people! Here's another funny story involving mid nineties thrash in a small country town. I finally met another metalhead in high school and one of his first metal memories involved Slayer's Divine Intervention. He was riding with a friend of his who had just picked up the album. Well, the other guy's mom grabbed the booklet out of his hands to "approve" his purchase. She started leafing through the booklet, screamed, and then grabbed the whole cd and threw everything out the window. Slayer and Overkill, pissing folks off even in the dark days of metal! Fun fact, my friend was so amazed at the parent's reaction to the cd that he knew he had to get it for himself eventually just to find out what caused this "rational adult" to react in such a way.

Ahhhh, that felt good to reminisce a little. From The Underground And Below is definitely the band's most "nineties" album. There is a ton of groove type riffs, but that shouldn't be a surprise. What is though, is the big White Zombie influence that's all over this album. There's way more sampling done on this album than ever before, and there are lots of effects and things that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Astro Creep 2000. Now, I could be completely wrong, but it seems the album begins with a drum loop before some thick and crunchy guitars burst in to accentuate the beats. The groove is laid down from the get go and we are greeted with a sampled spoken line from the movie Raising Arizona before segueing into a a vicious vocal attack from Blitz and guitarist Joe Comeau. Joe had several lead parts on vocals on the last album, but here he has a bunch of vocal duties. He does a call and response section with Blitz during this track and lead vocals on practically all of F.U.C.T.. There's more experimentation to be had with the feedback infused breakdown and the shrieks from Blitz that sound like a rabid crow. Again, if this is an album you're hearing for the first time after Years Of Decay, this might be a shock. But if you were there for the band in the nineties, this was greeted warmly, at least by me. The evolution that began with W.F.O. and continued with The Killing Kind reaches its conclusion here. The following album Necroshine was almost like From The Underground And Below Part II in feel and especially starting off the album with another drum loop. Save Me begins with a vocal sample repeating, "miracle man, you're a miracle man" in a droning tone as guitars begin to rain down some aggro stomping riffs. Did I mention White Zombie? We go from there into a clean electric passage and floaty reverby, type vocals that wouldn't sound out of place on a more modern album, BUT Overkill pulls this off! Much like Bruce Dickinson's The Chemical Wedding, this is well executed modern metal without sounding like derivative crap. Almost sensing that all of these samples and whatnot might be a bit much to handle for those unprepared, Long Time Dyin' harkens back, waaaay back. Beginning with a guitar solo that is basically pure blues, this is metallicized blues / groove metal. No samples, just a lot of attitude. My personal fav is the oddly titled Genocya. This is just a weird song that kicks my ass. It's both parts speed, groove, and little bit of melodic humming from Blitz while also containing explosive parts such as the chorus and the, "Go, HIGH! Go, HIGHER!" shouts. There are a couple of misfires on the album though. The main one being the, uh, ballad Promises. That's pretty much all I have to say about that one. Another not so great one is The Rip N Tear. A little too groovish for my tastes, this one just comes across off as corny.

From The Underground And Below seemingly catches alot of flak from fans of the band. Comparing it to their eighties classics or the 2010's onslaught of rapid fire metal, this is definitely part of an "odd era" for the band. But, despite it being a bit experimental and a little bit weird, this is still an enjoyable album. If anything, it's cool to see an example of nineties style metal done right.

Killing Songs :
It Lives, Long Time Dyin', Genocya, F.U.C.T
Ben quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Overkill that we have reviewed:
Overkill - Scorched reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Overkill - The Killing Kind reviewed by Ben and quoted 80 / 100
Overkill - Wrecking Your Neck reviewed by Ben and quoted no quote
Overkill - W.F.O. reviewed by Ben and quoted 85 / 100
Overkill - The Wings of War reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 19 reviews click here
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