Twenty albums may seem like a milestone for most bands, but Overkill vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth doesn’t think of it that way. “To me, it’s always been about the individual opportunity,” he tells Apple Music. “If it’s the 19th or the 21st record, the approach is the same. I don’t think [bassist] D.D. [Verni] or myself, who have been here from the beginning, ever said, ‘Wow, it’s our 20th record. That’s so cool.’ It’s more like, ‘How do we make this fucking song better?’” It's that striving for excellence that puts Scorched way ahead of just about any other band’s 20th album. On songs like “The Surgeon,” “Twist of the Wick,” and “Harder They Fall,” the New Jersey thrash veterans inject their time-honored style with fresh atmosphere and perspective. “It’s more about staying relevant in the current day than saying, ‘Hey, look at us—we’ve been here since the ’80s,’” Ellsworth says. “It’s Overkill, but with a fresh paint job.” Below, he discusses each track. “Scorched” “Overkill has always had an arsenal of tools in our shed, and we like to use all of them. It’s not just a shovel that digs graves, you know? I feel like this song opens with almost a guitar solo, and that sets the tone. To me, it speaks of two eras: the present, but also where we came from. This is reminiscent of the ’80s and ’90s, to open a song with a guitar piece that kind of sits by itself. Then you hear thrash, but also kind of rock ’n’ roll in the center sections, and the deep hook in the choruses speaking of that era gone by.” “Goin’ Home” “We were on tour in North Carolina in March 2020 when we got shut down by the pandemic. The world stopped on its axis, but I left North Carolina with the demo for this song on my computer. As shit started getting dark during those days, at least I had a kind of sanity in here. Lyrically, I put a unified vibe on it: ‘We are going home. Nobody’s left behind here.’ But musically, what I heard was a lot of traditional heavy metal with a really hard punch. And it fits with the previous song in the influence of what brought us to the current day.” “The Surgeon” “When I first wrote these lyrics, they were really dark. But I rewrote them because I felt it just wasn’t reflective of the personality of the band. We’ve used dark subjects, but that’s never the outcome at the end. The darkness is only used to highlight the positive side. So, ‘The Surgeon’ became more about the bloodletting aspect of getting an infection out. Musically, I feel it kind of breaks the mold of Thrash 101. It’s a lot more musical.” “Twist of the Wick” “This was one of the hardest songs for me to write because it’s almost like progressive thrash. It’s got different dynamics from what we usually do. What I ended up doing was working on it in sections—first verse, pre-chorus, chorus—until I was satisfied with the whole thing. But it’s got a real heavy metal chorus now, and then there’s this whole fucking monk choir section in the middle that I didn’t even hear until we go to the studio. But it’s become one of my favorites on the record because of its uniqueness.” “Wicked Place” “I’m 63, so I grew up in the ’70s. I was a member of the Columbia Record Club, where you paid a penny for 12 records but then you had to buy another 12 over the course of the year. I always looked for records with those big, heavy groove riffs—like Black Sabbath or Foghat. And this song, to me, is like Foghat on steroids. If you slowed this down and muddied up the production, this could have come out in the ’70s. I feel like I sang this song in the shower 50 years ago.” “Won’t Be Comin Back” “I remember having a conversation with D.D. back in the ’90s. We were on tour in Bulgaria or somewhere, having coffee, and I asked him, ‘Where are you going with the next record?’ and he goes, ‘We’re Overkill. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel, are we?’ Fast-forward about 30 years, and we were talking about this record, except he was asking me what we should do. And I said, ‘Write it like it’s the last record you’re ever going to write, and I’ll do the same thing.’ So, that’s what we did. We wrote it like we won’t be coming back.” “Fever” “During the pandemic, I was drinking beer and listening to the demo for this song, going, ‘I don’t know how this motherfucker expects me to write to this.’ It has this mellow section that’s kind of creepy and eerie, so I tried to be creepy to match that. But it just wasn’t working. Then, one night, I was streaming some Ozzy, and it hit me: Ozzy is fucking Ozzy because he just does what he does. His presentation is consistent. So, I went back in and just did my thing. I just opened my mouth, and it worked.” “Harder They Fall” “This was another one where the lyrics started out kind of depressive because of the pandemic. But, again, I realized that doesn’t fit our personality. Our personality is to stand up and not take shit—or at least to draw a line. So, I had to rewrite it to reflect that. Musically, it’s got a rock ’n’ roll feel, like Overkill with a fresh coat of paint for 2023. It’s not something we’ve done before, but it’s reminiscent of something we’ve done before.” “Know Her Name” “The working title for this was ‘Sabbath’ or ‘Geezer,’ I think. It was a Black Sabbath reference, anyway. To me, that riff just sounds like something off of Master of Reality. It has that old-school ‘Symptom of the Universe’ vibe. So, it was really easy for me to latch onto. Lyrically, it’s basically talking about how liberty isn’t free. For countries that are privileged enough to live in liberty, it shouldn’t be taken for granted.” “Bag o’ Bones” “This song has a really heavy, standout groove to it. It was the last song we wrote for the record, so it feels like a stepping stone into the 21st record. Lyrically, it’s a fun journey where I go from the East to the West and from the North to the South, and I always seem to find somebody I know. It’s just done from an abstract, fantasized point of view from these past 38 years on the road.”


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