Thursday, 31 July 2014

Album Reviews; Overkill - White Devil Armory

Track Listing:

1. XDM
2. Armorist
3. Down To The Bone
4. PIG
5. Bitter Pill
6. Where There's Smoke
7. Freedom Rings
8. Another Day To Die
9. King Of The Rat Bastards
10. It's All Yours
11. In The Name

Overkill shouldn't need an introduction. If the Big Four of Thrash were to expand to include a fifth band, Overkill would be a prime contender, alongside Testament and Exodus. This is their seventeenth album over 29 years, and after the universal praise of the last two albums (2010's 'Ironbound' and 2012's 'The Electric Age') expectations are high.

The album opens with ominous noises that make up the intro track 'XDM' before 'Armorist' comes in proper with the kind of stampeding rhythm that Overkill are known for. The riff is simple, but effective and frontman Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth's shrieking vocals are still top-notch. It's a well-written Overkill statement of intent that lines the album up well.

'Down To The Bone' comes in with one of the most furious drum displays that Overkill have put to tape before it takes on a new life with D.D. Verni's rumbling bass tone cutting through satisfyingly. There's more of an old-school Overkill vibe to this song that wouldn't sound out of place on 'The Years Of Decay'. Next comes 'PIG', which is easily one of the heaviest and most accomplished songs Overkill have written so far into their career. Blitz gives his vocal chords a real workout here, and the track is packed to the brim with killer riffs. This will have the loyal Skullcrushers going insane at future Overkill shows.

The album as a whole shows the band's darker side of song writing that makes for sneering, sinister Thrash Metal. In this manner, it's not entirely dissimilar to 'Ironbound'. This is shown very clearly on lead-weight slammer 'Bitter Pill', which sees the band slow down, but not the momentum of the album. 'Where There's Smoke' immediately puts things back into top gear. It's another straight-edge thrasher.

Obviously, the star of Overkill is the band's irreplaceable frontman, and his vocal style have always been a large part of their trademark sound; but it's great to hear that even this far into their career, their recorded output lets each musician present shine just as brightly. Be it Derek Tailer's riff-by-riff attack, or Ron Lipnicki's dynamic drumming style which both hold the Overkill sound together at the seams.

Another stand-out track; 'Freedom Rings' shows a more free-form song writing style that has a catchiness all of it's own, showing that Overkill have picked up a few tricks through their long career. 'Another Day To Die' builds around a memorable staccato riff and becomes a stomping powerhouse song to be reckoned with. This then leads into 'King Of The Rat Bastards', which has that real New Jersey fuck-you vibe to it, showing that Overkill have not mellowed with age.

The album concludes with the double header of stop-starter 'It's All Yours', which shows all the hallmarks of the band's Motorhead affinity, even the riff has the Rock 'N' Roll turned Metal sound to it, and the similar 'In The Name', on which Ellsworth flexes his vocal chords for more higher notes. This is an album that is not going to convert those who do not like Overkill, nor will it surprise those who love them. It is a perfect example of "If it isn't broke, don't fix it". Overkill do what they do best, and they continue their streak of greatly impressive albums.

Rating: 9/10