Wednesday 16 July 2014

Overkill - White Devil Armory (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/7/2014
Label: Nuclear Blast

“White Devil Armory” CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). XDM 0:49
2). Armorist 3:53
3). Down To The Bone 4:04
4). Pig 5:21
5). Bitter Pill 5:48
6). Where There's Smoke 4:20
7). Freedom Rings 6:52
8). Another Day To Die 4:56
9). King Of The Rat Bastards 4:09
10). It's All Yours 4:26
11). In The Name 6:03


Founded back in 1980, never having left the path of metal, always sticking to themselves, doing their thing, and being blessed with THE best frontman in thrash metal history, OVERKILL can truly be called icons, legends and most of all: pioneers!

Having influenced generations of bands and sounds over all these years, OVERKILL are still going amazingly strong, maybe even stronger than ever! After having signed a contract with the big and longstanding Nuclear Blast family in 2009 and releasing the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed label debut, »Ironbound« in 2010 followed by »The Electric Age«, Bobby Blitz and the guys went off again!

Celebrated headlining tours (the renowned “Killfest” tours) all over the old continent and splendid gigs on mostly all important European festivals in support of the album put OVERKILL back on the map where they belong – on top!

Enter 2014, the 34th year of the bands existence marks another milestone for OVERKILL: the 17th album, »White Devil Armory« - Blitz himself describing the »The Electric Age« era had kind of a “rebirth feeling to it”, the new offering can perfectly be depicted as the raw and wild youth that naturally follows.

Thinking of »The Electric Age« as kind of a “revival” of what OVERKILL is about, »White Devil Armory« with all the trademarks you love about this band, refreshing them and adding a modern age feeling, without denying their roots and sticking to the original sound, is the essence of OVERKILL.

The Band:

Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth I Vocals
Dave Link | Guitar
D.D. Verni | Bass
Derek Tailer I Guitar
Ron Lipnicki | Drums


The greatest thrash band of all time? There is a case to be made for Overkill... No band has been more prolific or consistent, that’s for sure. Can anyone name a definitively poor Overkill record? I can’t. From “Feel The Fire” to this, their latest masterpiece, all their records have had something to offer. They have moved with the times when needed- the 90’s showed a distinct Pantera influence, for example, and they even slowed down on “I Hear Black”, but really Overkill have remained a thrash metal band to the (rotten) core.

Overkill have also been in something of a purple patch for some time now. I loved “Immortalis”, “Ironbound” and “The Electric Age”, so it was with some anticipation that I pressed play to listen through “White Devil Armory.” Effect laden intro “XDM” sets the stage for “Armorist” (the advance track, for those that have heard it)- a track which showcases all that is great about Overkill circa 2014. The drums are re-assuringly fast and precise, the bass of DD Verni is frenetic and its tone aggressive while the riffs are both weighty and razor sharp courtesy of Dave Linsk/Derek Tailer (Linsk has handled all recording duties in the past, I am unsure as to why or if that is the case this time around).  The production is absolutely ear splitting- precise and powerful.

Bobby Blitz Ellsworth excels himself too. The man is in his 50’s, has survived cancer and had a stroke on stage (in Germany, naturally) and still sounds incredible- even more pissed off than in his youth.  I’ll admit to Blitz’s vocals being very much an acquired taste- they are shrieky and  unusual, but for me it gives the band character and it should not be forgotten that the man can actually sing, too.

“Down To The Bone” keeps the energy high and the hooks catchy while “Pig” changes the pace to moderately fast, as opposed to flat out. “Bitter Pill” is more measured and an obvious hook laden single/sampler track before “Where There’s Smoke” blasts out your ear drums and shoots your nerves to pieces. The album doesn’t really let up from there- “King of The Rat Bastards” is particularly good, but I could not argue with the likes of “Freedom Rings”, “Another Day to Die”, “It’s All Yours” or “In The Name” being nominated as greats in the Overkill catalogue. Make no mistake: this is thrash metal, but there are changes of pace, hooks and dynamics here that differentiate the record from its predecessor.

Yep, I reckon Overkill are making their best albums after over thirty years into a career in the murky waters of metal’s cult bracket. I would rate “Ironbound” as their greatest (Choice Cuts, coming your way...), with “Horrorscope,” “Feel the Fire,”   “The Underground and Below,” “Killbox 13” and “The Electric Age” being other career highlights. The band can do no wrong on stage either- great band, professional to the last.

So, Overkill are a band with a) a consistent body of work that is never less than metal b) very regular releases and tours c) a unique vocalist d) great songs e) great stage craft. The greatest thrash band of all time? Well... Yes! “White Devil Armory” illustrates this point perfectly. Brutal, fast, and resolutely defiant.  It is one of their best albums, and that is really saying something. All hail!

Words by: Richard Maw

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