Veteran New Jersey thrashers OVERKILL recently completed work on the follow-up to 2017's "The Grinding Wheel" album. The new disc mark the band's recording debut with drummer Jason Bittner (SHADOWS FALL, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM), who joined OVERKILL last year.
In a brand new interview with the "Nuclear Podblast", Bittner stated about OVERKILL's next effort (hear audio below): "The last bit of stuff we had to do was backing vocals, which we did two weeks ago. So we all went down to the studio that Blitz [singer Bobby Ellsworth] works out of, to do his vocals, so all went there, aside from Dave [Linsk, guitar], who was still in Florida. So the four of us went there, did a day of backups, and then Dave came up the following week and we did the photo shoot and all the press photos."
OVERKILL's as-yet-untitled new album, which is due in February via Nuclear Blast, was mixed by Chris "Zeuss" Harris, who previously worked with Bittner on several SHADOWS FALL releases.
"In OVERKILL, I'm as involved in the mix as I was in SHADOWS FALL, but I'm not so hands-on like I was with SHADOWS FALL," the drummer said about once again collaborating with Zeuss. "We'll get something from D.D. [Verni, bass] and Blitz and then we'll convene on that and then we'll get back to Zeuss with it. Everything that I just heard this weekend sounds absolutely amazing. If they told me that this was the final mix and we were going to press with this, I'd be, like, 'All right. Cool.' In the grand scheme of things, I really don't think there was much discussion. D.D.'s worked with Zeuss before on his solo stuff and with THE BRONX CASKET CO., so he's familiar with working with Zeuss, but the rest of OVERKILL isn't. But they're going on my recommendations and D.D.'s, and everybody's been really happy with what's been going on so far. I think it was just a thing, too, where Zeuss knows the band; he knows what OVERKILL should sound like and what they wanna sound like, and I think he's adding a little bit of that modern element to it as well. That's at least my take on it."
Bittner also talked about the songwriting process for OVERKILL's new LP, saying: "I got demos in early January, and I would learn the structure and parts, I would add my own thing to it, and I would just send it back. I'm, like, 'I'm just gonna send it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes it.' So I did a lot of playing in pre-production myself, and I never heard 'no' on any of the drum parts, so that was really cool. They were just, like, 'Yeah, a lot of cool stuff in there. Keep going.' 'All right. Cool.' And then I started tracking drums the first week of June, and then Dave guitars, and then D.D. did the bass, and Blitz just finished up the vocals a few weeks ago, and now are mixing and mastering."
Earlier this year, Ellsworth told Brian Aberback of Patch.com about the musical direction of OVERKILL's new material: "What I notice about it is that there are parts of it that delve into really classic heavy metal that are spawned off the riff. There's kind of a brutal metal riff and then there's a heavy metal riff. The brutal riff being more in the modern sense of OVERKILL but the classic riff goes back into the feel of 'Feel The Fire', 'Taking Over', 'The Years Of Decay' kind of influence.
"I think what we're doing is staying with that classic riff but adding the brutality after," he continued. "So it has the vibe of classic heavy metal with that spawned aggression off of it. Obviously, we're not going to be progressive or off the tracks with where we're going. It's OVERKILL. But the internal end of that is really exciting because we notice every little different nuance in it. So I think it's going to be interesting."
Asked what Jason has brought to the band, Ellsworth said: "He's put a lot of work into the album and his excitement has spread to all of us. He's the first person in this band who's deeply, technically trained. That's one of the most exciting things about this project. This guy is pretty close to a virtuoso when hitting the skins."
OVERKILL released the "Live In Overhausen" DVD and Blu-Ray on May 18 via Nuclear Blast. The set was recorded more than two years ago in Oberhausen, Germany, where OVERKILL celebrated the 25th anniversary of "Horrorscope" and 30th anniversary of "Feel The Fire" by performing both albums in their entirety.
Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral