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Overkill, Accept @ Best Buy Theater

Photo and story by Chris Rowella

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If you wanted to find every hesher over 40 in the tri-state area, this show was ground zero. Gray-haired skullets and Dio back patches rubbed elbows with mohawked teens in un-ironic white hi-tops. Someone had a Y&T longsleeve. You wouldn’t find more metal in a Pittsburgh steel plant.

There were two opening bands, Sabaton (Sweden) and Cypher Seer (New Jersey). The former is on Nuclear Blast, the latter might as well be. Euro power metal is not my bag, but the crowd was into it. One guy headbanged through Sabaton’s entire set; some people threw horns and never put their hands back down. This was dedication!

Going into this, I knew three things about Accept:

1. They had a new(ish) singer that wasn’t a short guy in overalls.
2. “Fast as a Shark”
3. “Balls to the Wall”

I didn’t learn much more, but they put on a great show. Hearing more of their back catalogue, they came across less “’80s metal” and more “Motörhead meets AC/DC turned to 11″. Mark Tornillo, especially, channels Brian Johnson in mannerisms and vocal style. (This came full circle during Overkill’s encore, when Tornillo joined the band for a cover of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”.) He kept the energy level high, which was important considering Accept’s collective age; the rhythm guitarist was a dead ringer for Boris Karloff. The two aforementioned songs closed the set, still just as much fun to sing along to as ever.

Overkill are still the snarling punks they were back in ’81. There’s nothing slick, polished, or fancy about anything they do, especially on stage. Bobby Blitz is metal’s Gollum: scrawny torso and sneering vocals, middle finger in the air, a devilish grin delivering every word. Classic tracks “Deny the Cross” and “Wrecking Crew” lined up seamlessly with new songs like “Bring Me the Night” and “Ironbound”, whipping up pits and crowd surfers galore. D.D. Verni’s (un)godly bass tones laid down a relentlessly sinister punk bounce, equal parts Misfits and Dan Lilker. Overkill has thrived as a “second-tier” thrash band, never achieving the commercial success (or consequent egos and bloat) that ultimately derailed most of their peers. Maybe it’s the Jersey in them, or maybe it’s that “Fuck You!” is still the fan favorite, but seeing them live is akin to rooting for the underdog in a prize fight: a little danger and a lot of fun.

— Chris Rowella

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“Bring Me the Night” (official video)

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