The acronym “W.F.O.” originates from the phrase “Wide Fuckin’ Open”, something bikers say in United States of America. The album of course is not a Hell’s Angels soundtrack or even a road trip’s. On the contrary it is extremely metal and full of thrash elements. When it was released in 1994, groove metal was at its peak with bands like Machine Head and Pantera (or to be more precise, with Pantera and Machine Head, we can’t change history). Keeping that in mind we should address the mistake most people make: comparing “W.F.O.” to “Under the Influence” and/or “Taking Over”, thus forgetting that this album came after “I Hear Black” (that had really bad reviews without it being such a bad album) and it was released during an age that both Heavy Metal and Thrash were changing drastically. And it may seem ok today, 20-25 later, for new bands stealing everything from the 80s, reminiscing those “glorious” days (and more often than not building their careers on other bands’ hard work) but then, during the 90s if you didn’t try to evolve and experiment you were basically done… before you start shouting go listen to the album first! And there lies the core of the issue. That Overkill decided to leave “I Hear Black” and their Sabbath influences. Yes, any similarities between Pantera and Priest during that time is nothing more than Black Sabbath influenced riffs, retouched by studio production in a way that it feels like sharp razors falling on the neck of the poor clueless listeners (or not). The result of their choice to turn to more aggressive music paths, having speed as their ally and the more “raw” approach production-wise, that made us think of “…and Justice for All” has vindicated the band, even if it did so years later. From “Where it Hurts”, the first song of the album, guitars are really close to the Metallica’s “…and Justice for All” era, with the distinguished difference that the bass lines of D.D. Vemi are more obvious and remind us of De Maio! The gang vocals of “Fast Junkie” make it more “amiable” during the chorus, while it reminds us of “Cowboys From Hell”. “The Wait – New High in Lows”, just like “They Eat their Young” that follows, are high quality composition that have the sound that characterizes Overkill and both songs could be part of any of their previous albums. “What’s your Problem” seems like one of those, while “Under One”, with guitars similar to those of “Master of Puppets” is an easy to remember song with a simple chorus, just repeating the title of the song. It could be a nice song, with many thrash elements but with pointless nu metal passages too. And here the first side of the LP would end, if it was released in that form. But… and here comes the sweet irony, the album was never released as an LP and the trend of the time was for more music to provide a “longer” CD. Quantity instead of quality and even though its duration is 79 minutes, though essentially it is around 52, the presence of 2-3 fillers drops the medium and at that point the album goes south.W.F.O. By Overkill The Long Road Was Always Wide Fuckin Open To Thrash “Supersonic Hate” is a very good song that reveals the heavy punk influences of the band’s members, while “R.I.P. (Undone)” is nothing more than an acoustic interlude. “Up to Zero” is another really good song and a great example of what a mix of “Cowboys From Hell” and “…and Justice for All” can achieve while it is, in a way, leading us to the best song of the album and one of the best Overkill songs, the uber-hymn “Bastard Nation” with that killing, groovy bass line and the infectious and close to the fans chorus. And the albums ends in an ideal way with “Gasoline Dream” which, with “They Eat their Young” and “Bastard Nation” is one of the most catchy tunes of “W.F.O.” This was the seventh album from the American band, and it was released in September 1994 by Atlantic Records. The commercial failure of the album led to losing the contract with the multinational label. We should also mention here the existence of hidden tracks, number 97 and 98 on the CD, that show us how they were warming up as a band in the studio, playing Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”, Judas Priest’s “The Ripper” and “Voodoo Childe (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix. Even the instrumental song “R.I.P. (Undone) is dedicated to the, at the time recently deceased, Criss Oliva of Savatage.

Check the vinyl edition here via Cast In Stone Entertainment.