Sound: Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage are probably the biggest bands in the so-called New Wave of American Metal that has been all the rage in the music press these past few years. The two bands have also shared a kinship that is both geographical (they both hail from Massachusetts) and musical. Like many of their U.S. counterparts, Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall worship at the altar of Swedish melodic death metal; the former band much more than the latter. Either way, many of their younger fans would probably be surprised by Overcast.
Comprised of Brian Fair (Shadows Fall's vocalist) and Mike D'Antonio (Killswitch Engage's bassist) and also featuring Pete Cortese (guitarist of Seemless), Scott McCooe (guitarist of Transient) and Jay Fitzgerald of the band Tunnel Drill, Overcast originally broke up in 1998. The band had more in common with the bare-bones East Coast hardcore sound of the early 90's than it did with anything remotely Gothenburg. After a decade of inactivity, the band decided to get back together and re-record some of their material. The result is Reborn to Kill Again, a sort-of Best of Overcast compilation. Now armed with many more years of experience and playing skills, their songs actually sound more focused, energized, and aggressive than they did the first time around. // 7
Lyrics: While Fair's barking vocal attack has always sounded kind of clumsy on Shadows Fall's thrash attack; it makes complete sense on Overcast's gritty riff-fests. On the slow-chugging of Seven Ft. Grin, his gruff vocal jabs come off more like a third guitar adding another dimension of heaviness to the composition. Check out his speedier assault on (Your) Destructive Self where he actually bears some vocal resemblance to Merauder's Jorge Rosado. Lyrically speaking, Reborn to Kill Again largely takes on hardcore's confessional, inward looking pacing. There are some us against them elements happening too. The track Bleed Into One even comes off like a rally cry with lines like, release with me/all that is locked inside/as we become one. You can say Fair, at least lyrically, is like a mix of Henry Rollins and John Joseph (Cro-Mags) on this collection. // 7
Overall Impression: While many of the older and holier than though metalhead U-G readers will dismiss this album because of the involvement of Fair and D'Antonio, the truth is, this set of songs has very little to do with the music of their main bands. Reborn to Kill Again is tough and to-the-point hardcore but played with the skill and know-how only veteran musicians can pull off. Every pounding passage is put forth with the streetwise vigor of hardcore but the rhythm section owes more to the air-tight exactness of modern metal. That's not to say these songs come off anywhere near synthetic. Fitzgerald and McCooe know when to let the tempos run a bit looser and songs like Spun and For Indifference work well because of it. All in all, there's nothing really groundbreaking here but that's not the point anyway. What these scene stalwarts have proven here is that sometimes a band can look back at their past and revamp it without losing none of the original integrity. That doesn't mean every group should necessarily do this kind of project, but if the band treats it with as much love and respect as Overcast has, it might be worth a listen. // 7
- Carlos Ramirez (c) 2008