Overkill: White Devil Armory review

If you are among the many thrash metal fans around the world that feels metal’s Big 4 should be extended to metal’s Big 10 and that Overkill should be number five on that list, your time has come, your battle cry has been heard and your metal prayers are about to be answered. The mosh mongers are set to drop their 17th studio album via eOne Music entitled White Devil Armory. It is a career affirming colossus that hits like a fist to the face and should finally cement their place in metal history alongside their Big 4, or should we say Big 10 contemporaries. New Jersey thrash legends Overkill came into being in 1980 when punk band The Lubricunts called it quits. They released their first official demo EP, Power In Black in 1983, followed by their full length debut Feel The Fire in 1985 and never looked back. Over their 30-some year career, the band has risen to be one of the most dominating forces in metal history and have amassed an impressive as hell back catalog including 17 studio albums, three EP’s, three live albums, an album of cover songs and a handful of compilations and DVDs. As of 2012 the band had sold a staggering 16 million records worldwide. White Devil Armory picks up were 2012’s The Electric Age left off and continues the band’s long tradition of self-production, but was mixed by Greg Reely. Once again the bands skull/winged mascot Chaly adorns the cover and is now as ubiquitous as Iron Maiden’s Eddie or Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead. The band’s larger than life frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth is as charming as he is intense and one of the few badasses that have looked God in the face and said, “Fuck You”…”I’m not leaving.” Having survived both an aggressive form of nose cancer and a stroke on stage. He and bassist extraordinaire D.D. Verni are the driving force and only constant members of the band. The madness eerily begins with “XDM.” It’s the dark and ominous catalyst that sets things into motion, setting the tone for the rest of the album. From there, lead single and video “Armorist” takes off like a runaway freight train, delivering a sonic beatdown that pummels the listener into submission. In the meantime, the muscular grooves, relentless rhythmic aggression and breakneck tempos of “Down To The Bone” sounds like their Big 4 (we mean 10) brethren Anthrax while the structural dynamics and building primordial fury of “Pig” and “It’s All Yours” have the same metallic bite as The Electric Age album. Elsewhere, the formidable riffs, clever rhythmic passages and razor sharp hooks of second single and video “Bitter Pill,” paint a sonic canvas, using shades of Necroshine and hues of Ironbound. There are even glimmers of Metallica’s Fight Fire With Fire in “Where There’s Smoke,” that are augmented by broad brushstrokes of Blitz’s extraordinary vocal abilities. At the same time, the buzzsaw grooves and machine gun drumming in “Another Day To Die” permeates the heaviness of the I Hear Black or the Wide Fucking Open albums from within while tracks like “Freedom Rings” and “In The Name” follow the same anthemic framework of Hello From The Gutter or Fuck You! The aptly titled “King Of The Rat Bastards” rounds out the musical spectrum, by delivering a dizzying array of drumbeats that rattle like a pneumatic drill, is supplemented with flourishes of mind bending solos and benefits greatly from a classic old school thrash breakdown. Here’s the bottom line- If you call yourself a thrash fan, then White Devil Armory is a no brainer that deserves- no, it demands your attention. Rating: 9/10 -Eric Hunker Overkill\’s Bobby Blitz talks White Devil Armory