White Devil Armory
18 July 2014
by Rob McAuslan
SEVENTEEN albums. Overkill have to be the most constant and consistent thrash band by absolutely frigging miles. Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and DD Verni have been the only vocalist and bassist they’ve ever had in all that time, too. There must be some sort of prize out there for this kind of longevity.
There’s not been a whole lot of experimenting in that impressive lifespan either – I Hear Black and its doomy, bluesy air aside, theirs has been a career defined by release after release of ripping, pit-friendly thrash with few diversions from the style they’d basically perfected on 1989’s The Years Of Decay.
That’s a small lie, actually. Horrorscope had a fair chunk of groove dotted about in its murky, early-90s production, and The Killing Kind even sneaked in some hardcore influence a full decade after the crossover boom of the mid-80s. All three of those edge-case albums are pretty hotly debated among hardcore Overkill fans though, with that deviation striking a pretty firm line beyond which certain factions simply won’t cross. It’s good news for the stalwarts – White Devil Armory doesn’t exactly strike out at bold new territories. Blitz and DD, as sole songwriters, have carved themselves quite the niche over the last decade or so and really, there’s very little need for them to broaden it. Ellsworth’s distinctive tenor scream and Verni’s clanging, midrange-heavy bass tone are reinforced, as ever, by solid drumming and chunky riffing with a smattering of tidy soloing.
White Devil Armory does feel a little ‘by the numbers’ at this point though, and being absolutely blunt about it, they could stand to allow a little fresh blood in – when the most recent member is decade-old drummer Ron Lipnicki, there’s not too much fear of dilution, surely? What they’re doing is working more than well enough and as long as Overkill keep turning out albums of this quality they’ll always be worthwhile, but the ‘thrash n’ roll’ tip they’ve been on since Necroshine is starting to dull just a little. Perhaps a full return to a bit more “proper” thrash might be a good idea – the points where White Devil Armory hits hardest are when it abandons any pretence at modernity and just thrashes out, so maybe Overkill should just embrace their roots a little more lovingly.
Sounds Like: One for the latter-day fans, really. It’s no Ironbound – take from that what you will.
Standout Tracks: Freedom Rings, King Of The Rat Bastards, In The Name