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Sweden's Overdrive (not to be confused with their N.W.O.B.H.M. counterparts from the Midlands) were formed in August of 1980 out of the two local bands Paradize (who recorded one 7" single) and Ocean (who recorded two 7" singles and one album). Just one year later they issued their debut mini-album entitled »Reflexions« with a circulation of 500 copies on their own label (today a precious collector's item fetching prices of well over 200 Euros).
In 1983 Overdrive recorded their first longplayer for Planet Records. »Metal Attack« was a mighty fine metal album propelling Overdrive to the forefront of the Swedish Metal scene (hot on the heels of the legendary Heavy Load). After a further album »Swords and Axes« Overdrive split up in 1985.
»Metal Attack« has now been re-issued via High Roller Records. For a lot of fans it’s still THE landmark Overdrive album. Not so for guitarist Janne Stark: “For me personally, »Swords and Axes« is better soundwise and vocally. However, some of the tracks on »Metal Attack« are still among my favourites. I mean, we still do ‘Back On The Hunt’, ‘Breakin’ Out’, ‘Freelance’ and ‘Doomwatch’ live. It was definitely a step up from »Reflexions«. We were in a professional studio with a real producer. It was a really cool experience.”
Is there anything Janne would have changed on »Metal Attack« in retrospect? “The only problem was,” he says, “that the engineer, Peter in de Betou came straight from three weeks of working with a Swedish dance band, so the production is drenched in reverb. I would have loved for »Metal Attack« to have the same punchy production as »Swords and Axes«. Pelle also sings slightly better on »Swords and Axes« as he was struggling with a throat infection during the recording, otherwise I’m quite satisfied with it.”
The album was originally released on Planet Records in 1983. What kind of label was Planet Records? They were not a metal label at all, but more pop/rock,” summarizes Janne. “However, they distributed some of the releases by Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Nightwing on NEMS and Gull Records. We were the first metal band they signed. They later also released Glorious Bankrobbers and Great King Rat. However, they didn't know shit about metal. They also tried to rip us off, and we had to contact a lawyer to get our royalties, so it didn't really end
“»Metal Attack« was really well received by the press,” continues Janne, “especially in Germany, Belgium and Holland, but also in the US and Canada. We received great reviews in fanzines and magazines. We were also recorded live by Swedish national radio and played quite a lot live in Sweden.”
The cover artwork of »Metal Attack« was quite striking and iconic, who
was responsible for that? “It was made by a local artist, who
unfortunately died of cancer many years ago,” explains Janne. “We had the idea for the guy ripping a guitar apart and he came up with the guitar neck and hair
entwining. I made the logo (actually inspired by the first Quiet Riot logo) and this was the first time we used it.”
To a lot of non-Swedes Heavy Load are still the number one early 1980s Swedish HM band... but soon after the name Overdrive enters the equation. “That's flattering!,” finds Janne Stark. “No, we were nowhere close to Heavy Load. We were more in league with bands like Torch, Axewitch and Mindless Sinner. The problem was that we came from a very small place in the southern part of Sweden, and that was not really cool at all. To be honest we were more influenced by earlier Swedish bands like Neon Rose and November. But also the UK scene and bands like Priest, Maiden, Dark Star, Trespass etc. We actually thought Heavy Load were kind of corny at the time. In retrospect, I however think »Full Speed At High Level« was quite influential.”
Overdrive were formed in Karlshamn, according to Janne Stark quite a lively city for rock and metal music: “Well, there was a very strong music scene with over 40 bands with a population of about 30,000. There were tons of pop and punk bands, but only a few hard rock and metal bands: us, Interaction, Mercy and Parasite. We had a local music association called Rockslaget (Rock Battle) with over 2,000 members, and they arranged concerts and festivals where local bands got the opportunity to play and support bigger acts. That actually, finally, put Karlshamn on the national map.”
During the course of the 1990s band leader and guitarist Janne Stark became an author and published two phenomenal books on the Swedish Metal scene (a third one is already in the making, due to come out in October 2013).
Overdrive re-united for the first time proper in 2003 to play a one-off show at the local 'Rockslaget Festival'.
In 2008 the long-awaited third full-length album »Let The Metal Do The Talking« was released, followed by »Angelmaker« and »The Angelmaker's Daughter«, both in 2011.