SKULL97

OVERKILL L.A., Triumph of the Will (1985, SST)

The skull:
Another totenkopf, but look at the size of it! If you’re gonna appropriate Nazi iconography for your album cover, this the way to do it: big and dumb. The copper coloring is a nice touch, too: it tones down the monochromatic harshness that plagues so many totenkopf album covers, although to be fair, this is the earliest example of the form in the skullection. Every cliche was a good idea at one time.

The music:
It really does send some confusing signals to decorate your cover with the insignia of the SS, while also titling it after the infamous Leni Riefenstahl propaganda film glorifying Hitler and his government. Well, no: it sends the rather clear signal that your band are Nazi sympathizers. In this case, the confusion comes later, when you realize that Overkill L.A. (naturally, the geographical suffix was added only after a conflict with Overkill N.Y.) are not a Nazi, national socialist, or in any way racist band. In truth, they’re only barely metal, too, although there’s enough Motorhead in this degenerate west coast punk amalgam to pass muster with the Council. I guess the cover and title are just part and parcel of a punk predilection for provocation, because the lyrics don’t even seem to make much of a special anti-racist statement, either. Just your typical me-against-the-world snottiness typical of mid 80s west coast punk, with a touch of the toughness that would shortly come to define (sometimes parodically) American hardcore. Personally, I’ve known about this album forever, as it used to show up all the time in the record shop section otherwise reserved for the one true Overkill (another skull-loving group), and I’m sure I listened to at least a song of this at some point, but I never listened to the whole thing until now. It’s… not bad! I wouldn’t have liked it at all in the 80s, but as an older, wiser man, I can appreciate its grit and working class moxie. It’s not a great album, and seemingly every song is played at the same middle tempo, but if you like early Motorhead and can also get behind Black Flag and Social Distortion, you might love this.
— Friar Johnsen

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