Sound — 10
The two remaining founding members of Overkill, vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni, have stuck with Overkill for nearly thirty years, and it has certainly paid off. Ironbound is one of the finest albums Overkill has ever released, delivering an all-out thrash bombardment that one must assume completely destroyed the unfortunate studio that the band used to record it. When listening to the album, you get the feeling that Blitz and Verni poured their blood, guts, and soul into writing, playing, and recording it. Guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer, while not the main songwriters, rise up to the task at hand, delivering complex, melting leads and thundering riffs that can only be likened to a battering ram. Although Verni's bass is high in the mix and easily audible (a rarity in the thrash world), it comes down to the guitarists to deliver the high-explosive goods, and this they do admirably. Drummer Ron Lipnicki is to be commended as well; the sheer speed of his beats and fills rival those of Slayer's Dave Lombardo and Exodus's Tom Hunting. However, like Lombardo and Hunting, it is not just his speed that makes him great; it is the precision with which he executes the brutally fast beats. The album has somewhat better production than earlier Overkill releases, but this is a good thing. It highlights the band member's abilities better.
Lyrics — 8
Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth has always been famous in thrash circles for his high-pitched, screeching voice, which is both soaring and gritty at the same time. Although Blitz is over fifty years old, his voice has thankfully not deteriorated at all. If anything, it has taken on a more dangerous, snarling edge. On Ironbound, Blitz delivers once again, spitting fire into the mic and through your speakers. If you're looking for profound poetry, you're probably not going to find it here. The lyrics cover typical Overkill fare: destruction, crime, fear, insanity, and murder, but that's what we've all come to expect from Overkill, and it certainly fits the music. The phrase "green and black" is used in more than one song, but it's no big deal (hell, I'm a Dragonforce fan, I can't complain too much about the same lyrical phrases being used in different songs.) In short, while the lyrics may be nothing special, Blitz's voice certainly is.
Overall Impression — 9
After several listens, I find myself impressed with the title track most. It sums up everything the band can do in one package. The brutal assault that is the riffs and choruses is broken up by a clean interlude, with a melodic solo from lead guitarist Linsk, while building back to the song's original mood. However, this is by no means the only great song on the album. Eight-minute opener "The Green and Black" sets the mood for the album with its bass-driven intro and furious riffs. Other standout tracks include "The Goal is Your Soul," "The SRC," and "Bring Me the Night" (the song that I heard on a local metal-themed radio program that compelled me to go buy the album), but all the songs are very strong, with no filler to be found anywhere on the album. There are a couple of brief weak points (including a failed attempt at death growls for the first verse in "The Head and Heart," but this doesn't last long), but these are not whole songs, just small parts. Altogether, Ironbound is a very strong album and affirms Overkill's status as a classic thrash band that can still pack a punch.