Few bands have a work ethic and determination that is even remotely comparable to that of the New Jersey based Thrash/Speed Metal outfit Overkill. Even during the mid 90s, the time when Grunge’s dominance led to many contemporaries calling it quits, the band’s core of Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (vocals) and D.D.Verni (bass) continued to forge its path through uncharted musical territories with the assistance of a large and ever-changing number of highly skilled musicians.
This ‘open door’ policy of sorts finally ran out of steam in 2005, as the then addition of drummer Ron Lipnick led to the creation of one of the steadiest line-ups in the history of the band. Nine years and three studio albums later, the line up consisting of Ellsworth-Verni-Linsk-Tailer-Lipnick have brought to life “White Devil Armory” – the band’s seventeenth studio release to date.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending every single London show ever performed by the band’s current incarnation and, as far as I’m personally concerned, these five guys are by far the tightest, craziest and most entertaining Thrash Metal band you’re likely to come across these days.
In “White Devil Armory” what Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and co have managed to achieve is to successfully recreate the passion and energy which characterise their live performances on a record and that, my friends, is a pretty mean feat indeed!
When you’re not bombarded by old-school cut-edge riffs and flamboyant leads by the duet Linsk/Tailer, you will either be on the receiving end of Ellsworth’s tremendous aural assault or suffer a constant battering from the perfectly synchronized rhythm section of Verni/Lipnick.
Your addiction to this album will be swift and complete and, before you know it, you will either find yourself head banging to its commanding beats or air-guitaring, using household props.
No song makes a better statement of intent than the four minute head banging monster “Armorist”. Fast and filled with catchy vocal melodies and flamboyant solos, this is a perfect introduction to this magnificent album and nicely paves the way for the groovier but equally bombastic “Down To The Bone” which follows suit.
Dynamism and energy also characterise the classic-sounding “Pig”, while a healthy interaction between Thrash & Groove is displayed in the catchy tunes of “Bitter Pill”. Fans of albums like “Necroshine” (1999) will almost definitely warm to “Where There’s Smoke”, while the thematically-varied and melodically outstanding “Freedom Rings” is a classic in the making.
Ellsworth’s vocal takes centre stage and impresses with its quality in the mid-tempo “Another Day To Die”, while the old-school riffs and addictive melodies of “King Of The Rat Bastards” are among the best ever recorded by this band. In “It’s All Yours” you have another energy-infused vocal-dominated piece, while Bobby truly exceeds himself in the closing belter “In The Name”.
It really infuriates me how, to this day, when people talk about top quality US Thrash Metal they still refer to The Big Four – none of which have created a decent Thrash album for more than a decade now.
While bands like Metallica and Slayer are still struggling to come up with some much needed inspiration, Overkill continue to blow our brains and captivate our hearts with solid, honest and highly energetic music, the likes of which you will find in abundance on this splendid release. Thrash album of the year? Highly likely, my friends!