Review by Daniel for Overkill - Taking Over (1987)
The 1987 sophomore album from New Jersey thrash metal establishment Overkill represents my entry point for the band way back around 1989 when I was in my early teenage years & completely obsessed with extreme metal (kinda like now really). I have to admit that, whilst I've always found it to be relatively enjoyable, it's never really convinced me that the band were a tier one act & my feelings haven't changed in that respect. "Taking Over" certainly featured some improvements on their 1985 debut album "Feel The Fire" with more appealing production, performances & song-writing but some of the riffs & arrangements still seem so basic & generic that it sounded a little dated even back then in my opinion. It's not a total thrash-fest either as almost half of the album falls into speed metal or traditional heavy metal territory.
I think the reason that "Taking Over" has remained so popular over the years is due to the tight execution & its uncluttered accessibility. It's like the band understood their limitations a bit better than they did previously & worked within them to create an appealing & marketable product. The other reason is likely the melodic vocal approach of front man Bobby Blitz who hadn't opted for the grindier approach he'd take on later material just yet & contributes some much needed pizzazz to some otherwise fairly uneventful pieces of music. There's definitely a little bit of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson about his performance here & if you listen closely you can hear that he was giving everything he had as far as charisma & effort go. It's certainly paid off as there's only really "Fatal If Swallowed" that fails to leave the desired impact as far as hooks go. In saying that, Bobby's performance still wasn't enough to make any of this material a genuine thrash classic in my opinion so I don't think I can justify the high regard that "Taking Over" is generally held in amongst thrash purists even though it was the band's best release to the time.