It's all about the palm muting.
In the 1970s, rock guitarists began using heavy doses of electrical input to overdrive the vacuum tubes in their amplifiers. This practice distorted an amplifier's sound and allowed a percussive picking attack when ax-slingers used the tried-and-true technique of resting their palms on the guitar's strings to dampen the vibrations.
Suddenly the guitar was a percussion instrument. And by the early 1980s, in the hands of thrash metal bands such as New Jersey's Overkill, it became a bludgeon. Aggressive and angry with precise and furiously fast guitar picking, thrash became the newest, and some might argue truest, expression of testosterone-driven angst that popular music had seen.
Overkill, a pioneer of the genre, never achieved the popular success of Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. But 14 studio albums into its existence, Overkill's non-stop attack from the underground is still going strong. Witness this: Jaxx club owner Jay Nedry wisely determined that one night of Overkill would not be enough to accommodate all the band's fans.
Over the years and always playing as a four- or five-piece group, Overkill has had no fewer than 13 members, two constants being singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni. The two have carried the banner for thrash metal (with a brief foray into grungy stoner rock) for 26 years.
Overkill is working on its next album, a follow up to 2005's "ReliXIV" and includes guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer and drummer Ron Lipnicki.
As usual with a Jaxx show, you will probably get your money's worth, because Nedry and his crew have lined up a dozen other metal bands to spread over the two nights in support of the headliner, including Stress Factor 9 from Vancouver, and local favorites, Krass Judgment, Eden Burns and Kneel to Zod.
-- C. WOODROW IRVIN
Tickets are $23 in advance or $26 the day of the show. 703-432-7328 orhttp:/