Remembering The Basher

Okay, let me see if I’m able to explain this without losing anybody in the process. Overdrive was a band hailing from the state of Virginia that began life in 1985 as kind of an ELO/Styx type rock band called Damascus. Then, a short time later, they renamed themselves White Knight, then again to Heaven Quest, until finally they went with the name Overdrive. Why Overdrive, you ask? Because, and I’m quoting from the Firestream Music Vault entry here, “we were driven by the One OVER us!!!” I wonder if they used that many exclamation points when they were saying that out loud. Anyway, by the time they settled on Overdrive, they were playing a more straight-forward style of melodic metal and hard rock, and after releasing three demos as Overdrive, they called it a day in 1991-ish.

Remembering The Basher is a two-disc compilation of the three Overdrive demos, as well as the three-song demo released under the name Damascus, plus a radio interview thrown in to top things off. Instead of being a Retroactive Records release, which would have been expected back then, this was an independent release that apparently headed up by bass player Joe McLaughlin. I remember purchasing the download maybe a couple of years after the initial release on CD Baby, not really knowing much beyond what the description on the site said. I still don’t know much now, beyond the entries in both the Metal Archives and Firestream Vault site entries.

Disc One of the collection consists of the tracks from the 1989 demo Overdrive (“Bring Out The Big Guns”, “Hellbound”, “Shelter And Strength”, “Living Sacrifice”, “Mark My Words”, “Rodent Of The Piper”, and “Crusade”) and the 1990 demo A Grave Mistake (“When The Saints”, “Standing In Line”, “Light A Candle For Me”, and “You Need A Friend”), while ending the disc with a track titled “Applause”, which is exactly what it says it is. Disc Two contains tracks from the 1987 demo Sacred Heart (“Gotta Have Faith”, “Shelter And Strength”, “Never Too Soon”, “Child Of The Father”, and “High On God”), and the Damascus demo from 1985 (“Animate”, “Think Of Me” and “Don’t Worry”), and ends with a radio interview track titled “Rock 105 Interview”.

Of the two discs, I would say Disc One has the definite better selection than Disc Two. While the songs on the Overdrive demo are more melodic metal in style, on the A Grave Mistake demo they adopted a style of metal that sounded a lot like Armed And Dangerous-era Anthrax, kind of thrash influenced with the metal, which I found very much to my liking. And it’s a good thing they decided to lead with those two demos, as Disc Two’s selections are…subpar at best. The music on the Sacred Heart demo is poorly produced middle-of-the-road rock that only the 1980s could produce, whereas the three Damascus songs are just horribly made keyboard rock with off-tune singing that made me cringe the entire time. I actually had to hit the stop button before I got to the end of the last actual song, and I haven’t actually listened to the radio interview cut, but I’m certain that’s not going to matter as far as this review goes.

I can’t remember what I paid for the download of this album back when I bought it. I do know, having double-checked the CD Baby site now while pounding out my complete thoughts on this release, it now shows to be available for only two bucks. I would say, that would be worth it, if only to get the first disc of songs. Otherwise, it’s $.99 per song, and even I can’t justify paying roughly twelve bucks for the first batch of songs. As far as listenability…maybe the A Grave Mistake section, but otherwise it would be understood if you passed up this one.