Overkill

White Devil Armory

Written by: EW on 25/08/2014 13:20:28

Ever the institution, the indestructible cockroach-after-the-nuclear-apocalypse of the thrash world, Overkill are now an incredible 17 studio albums strong and on the basis of "White Devil Armory" still have plenty to thrash against. For sheer longevity Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth & co simply cannot be matched and although their back catalogue has displayed a level of inconsistency one must expect when considering a band who had to endure the ‘90s metal dark days they have stayed remarkably true to their blue collar thrash roots through 34 years of graft, meaning the likes of "Armorist" and "When There’s Smoke" pack a veritably sufficient punch at any age of performer.

Of course though we are not dealing with Overkill circa 1988 "Under the Influence" days; this is 2014 and with Nuclear Blast backing the New Yorkers we are presented with a thoroughly modern take on the genre, most immediately recognisable in the triggered bass drum sound making itself heard one first song proper, "Armorist" (sound effects opener "XDM" is a quasi-Egyptian waste of space that would be much suited on a Nile record). The mechanistic sound continues through the guitar tones of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer which both fill the full dynamic range replete with plenty of crunch, but unfortunately of the kind that marks a total inter-changeability with Death Angel, Testament and most of the other ‘80s thrash institutions still peddling the boards. Thankfully long-term bassist DD Verni is a much more acceptable proposition; his thumping low tones are especially prevalent in the groovy "Bitter Pill" and staccato "It's All Yours" although they do get lost in some of the faster tracks. This of course leaves Ellsworth, easily one of the most charismatic vocalists in thrash, heck, in all of metal - the man might be 55 now but as anyone who has seen Overkill live in recent years can attest with his impressive physique, he has worked hard to retain the throaty bite and impressionable persona which has soared above Overkill’s musical efforts at times down the years. Whether it’s in the rising intonations of "Freedom Rings" or his leading lines that obscure the obtrusive lead guitar squealing in the chorus to "Pig" (perhaps a tactical ploy?) I can hardly find a word to negatively review the man. Blitz, I doff my e-hat to you.

As has been the case with virtually all releases of the past 6-8 years from the bygone thrash legends, however, there is a distinct sense of in one ear and out the other about much of the song writing as my multiple listens over a number of weeks have left few lasting memories. Listening while I write these words I yet still have no recollection to "Down to the Bone”, "Another Day to Die" or "King of the Rat Bastards” while closer "In the Name" starts well with Blitz’s scintillating screams of "In the name of father name of the son, in the name of the why we fight" but languishes too long with some misguided gang vocals later on. Overkill circa 2014 is not the act to revolutionise anyone’s perceptions of thrash metal; it is however a solid encounter with a band who refuse to give up the fight and why should they, for on the basis of "White Devil Armory" there is plenty more fight left in these old war horses.

Download: Armorist, Pig, In the Name
For The Fans Of: Death Angel, Kreator, Testament
Listen: Facebook

Release date 18.07.2014
Nuclear Blast Records

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