Though modern day Germany doesn’t seem to pump out thrash bands quite like the country did in the 80s, there is still no shortage of denim-vest clad kids ready to create a frenzy of mosh-friendly riffs. Running Death has been around for over a decade now, but is only just releasing their first record studio album, “Overdrive”, in March 2015. Although Running Death makes no major innovations to the thrash sound, it is clear very quickly that they aren’t simply an Exodus clone. This album is sonically quite different from many of the band’s peers. The production is more laid-back and not excessively loud, which compliments the bands more melodic and speed metal-oriented approach. The band doesn’t downtune excessively (or possibly even at all; though my ear isn’t quite pitch-perfect, these guys definitely aren’t reaching modern levels of downtuning). The band’s riffs complement this approach. This means that Running Death isn’t playing at warp-speed all the time (but if you are looking for that, "Raging Nightmare" fits the bill perfectly!). Instead, they make good use of a variety of tempos and grooves to create something more than a 50-minute thrashing. Sometimes this leads to a truly sideways style of riffing, complete with weird rhythms or bluesy scales, but these differences make the album even more compelling.
Where Running Death is likely to either convince or lose some people is in the vocal approach. Lead singer Simon Bihlmayer is just that: a singer. Rather than trying to emulate the savage throat ripping of Mille Petrozza, he leans more towards the singers of bands like Deathrow or Iron Angel. In other words, though his accent is a bit heavy, he is definitely on the melodic side of things. He can become a bit more vicious occasionally, but overall, he is definitely playing to the band’s speed/thrash approach with his more singing. Granted, he’s not the most technically developed, but he does stand out quite a bit. The only slight complaint I have towards him is in the song “Remote Controlled”, where his vocals are mixed pretty low and it’s hard to hear him clearly over the guitars.
“Overdrive” is a pretty lengthy experience. Though it only comes out to 10 songs after excluding the intro and interlude, the album does occasionally drag on a bit. Fortunately, the band’s diversity works to their favour, as it makes an album of this length bearable. With that said, it does feel like “Overdrive” lacks a few really killer tracks. The title song is certainly the best, and nothing sticks out in a bad way, but there aren’t too many hooks here despite all of the use of melody. Instead, the listener is treated to lots of shredding solos and great riffs (see the intro of "Mercenary" for examples of both), alongside plenty of more mid-paced emotionally charged sections. Ultimately however, “Overdrive” is a great listen because it isn’t something we’ve all heard 1000 times before. If you’re feeling a bit burned out on the THRASH THRASH THRASH approach of modern thrash bands, “Overdrive” is just the change of pace you need.
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4.0/5 or 80%.
Written by Scott