Review Summary: Lock up the children, Overkill’s back to prove that one is never too old and the thrash is never too loud.
Bobby Blitz will eat your soul. He is honestly the Elizabeth Bathory of the thrash metal scene. I’ve heard rumor that him and D.D. bathe in the blood of 10 scene bands every time Overkill sits down to write a new record. It is astounding the level of ferocity the band achieves on album after album, where others flounder and fall the wrecking crew just swings twice as hard. Falling in line during (arguably) the bands strongest run of albums in their 30 year career; White Devil Armory is Overkill in their fighting prime, coming out swinging.
If this is your first experience with the green and black, stop reading now. Stop listening now; you have some catching up to do. I will wait here for you while you go and listen to the 16 other studio albums in the bands catalog. Really, I have a book, take your time…. Good your back, neck sore? It should be. Now, taking in all that history we find ourselves in 2014 listening to a band putting out breakneck thrash that sounds as fresh as it did back in 1984. The band remains unchanged for the 4th album in a row, this being Linsk’s 7th and Tailers 6th as dueling lead guitarists. Ron Lipnicki returns on drums, and of course the omnipotent duo of bass wizard DD Verni and vocal assassin BB, Bobby Blitz, the maniac in green and black. After a short and pointless intro track (:49 seconds of, well “stuff” would be the best way to describe it) the lead single Armorist shreds eardrums like a cheese grater. If you have been following the group’s releases the past four years, this is more of the same that you have come to expect. Pounding, water tight double bass mingled with riff after delectable riff. Off the bat thee things will come to mind.
1. They finally have DD mixed correctly. The bass is audible, but not AUDIBLE like it was on The Electric Age.
2. Linsk and Tailer can shred with the best of them. Regardless of your favorite Overkill guitarists from the past, these guys are impeccable.
3. No one knows what the *** Bobby is singing about.
And that is okay. As bizarre as some of the lyrics are on this album, they almost work in the bands favor, as I find myself remembering and singing along to quite a few songs already. “I’m a GDM no pacification”? Really now. Looking back though the years, Overkill has never been a band of incredibly deep lyrical content (barring Horror Scope) and early reviewers that harp on this need to accept that this is nothing new. Not that there aren't gems on this one. Bitter Pill with its staccato picking and dark lyrical content reminds me of something from the Years of Decay era.
Speed is certainly the order of the day here, and the band does it well. Armorist, Down to the Bone, Pig and almost every track on the album bring up-tempo riffing that has been familiar for the past few albums to the table. Overkill does high speed with perfection, it’s when they slow it down a touch that the band tends to shine. Throwing back a little to songs like the aforementioned Horror Scope, Bitter Pill is the mid-tempo groove on this album. It is by far one of the best tracks Overkill has made in years, and should induce some excellent pits live. I just wished they had done another down tempo song. Something along the lines of Skull Crusher or Soulitude. The variety would have elevated the album even further than it already is.
Even so, for fans of Overkill at their breakneck best this album will not disappoint. Arguments are bound to be made about the band being on autopilot at this point. The album overall sounds fresh and appealing. Some segments do come across as recycle, Kind of the Rat Bastards sounds an awful lot like Rip and Tear (off of From the Underground and Below) but when a band’s career is as long and storied as Overkill’s it is more than forgivable. The most interesting track on this album is one that some people may never get the chance to hear. The deluxe edition includes two exclusive songs. One is a cover of Nazareth’s Miss Misery. Any doubt to Bobby’s claim to fame as the nastiest vocalist this side of the Hudson is laid to rest here. That’s not what I am speaking of however. The Fight Song may be the oddest thing Overkill has ever put to track. At first listen I was scouring the internet trying to figure out what band they were covering. Really, it’s a special kind of crazy. It sounds like a mish-mash of Overkill, Dropkick Murphy’s and 50 of your best friends screaming nonsense after killing off a few kegs of beer. “Raise your glass to the broken ones, to the ones you've beaten down. Well they tried and failed and never failed to try so respect all around”. Holy ***, did they just do a drinking song? You have to hear it, but it is awesome, and will probably be the best show closer the band has.
So, is White Devil Armory worth your time? Hell yes. It is not going to redefine thrash metal, but it shows that over 30 years later Overkill is still a band to be reckoned with.