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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Overkill

White Devil Armory

Review by Mike Korn

To say that Overkill is on a roll would not be giving them the credit they are due. They have clawed and fought their way to a premiere position in the heavy metal world and they sound more vital now than they did 15 or 20 years ago. How many bands can make that claim? I keep expecting them to falter and slide back a little, but no such luck with White Devil Armory. In the tradition of recent Overkill albums, this hits like a 20 megaton warhead.

This year there have been a couple of other releases from veteran metal bands…Redeemer of Souls by Judas Priest and Blind Rage by Accept. Those are both bands I worship. To be honest, neither of those releases is even close to being in the same ballpark as White Devil Armory. Not to say I dislike those records, but the energy coming from Overkill is like a physical blow.

If you think you can handle that kind of metallic beating, step inside White Devil Armory…if you dare.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
XDM

A brief intro piece that builds suspense for the following track, this features a horn sound like something from ancient Rome or Egypt and it sets the stage perfectly for the next song.

Armorist

Combined with the “XDM” intro, this is one of the best opening attacks in metal history. The only thing I can really compare it to is the “Hellion/Electric Eye” combo from Priest. It’s that good. Having just seen Overkill open a show with this, I can vouch for its power. It is a furious metal assault that will leave you reeling.

Down to the Bone

I can’t say there is any let up here. Maybe this is a tad less frantic than “Armorist,” but not by much. I notice that the drumming of Ron Lipnicki has never been faster or more accurate. He has really come into his own on this album.

Pig

Yet another thrashing sock to the jaw, this shows some of the underrated complexity of Overkill’s songwriting. There are some cool riff and time changes here and they slow things down to a headbanging groove. Bobby Blitz has become the best live frontman in the business. You have to see him in concert to appreciate him best but he really cuts loose on this album and shows his range.

Bitter Pill

Here we have a song that is not quite the engine of destruction that the previous tunes were, but which still manages to be mega-heavy. There’s a mournful melody to the guitar work and the riffs on the verse super heavy. This takes me back a bit to the Years of Decay album.

Where There’s Smoke

In a 30 year career that has produced some of the best thrash metal songs ever, this one rates right at the very top. It is just a total whirlwind of precision speed riffing that knocks your head right into the stratosphere. It is the total essence of Overkill, right down to the catchy singalong chorus that includes the shouted gem “Turn out that f***in’  light!” This is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders.

Freedom Rings

This song has a very dark and gloomy feel to it. Again I get a feeling of “Years of Decay” from it, with maybe a dash of “W.F.O.” It drops the intensity a bit from “Where There’s Smoke.” Then again, just about any tune you can think of would meet that description.

Another Day to Die

If the album has an Achilles’ Heel, this would be it. Definitely more of a “groover” than a “thrasher”, this has a bit of a plodding feel to it. It’s not really a bad song, but not up to the standard of the rest of the album.

King of the Rat Bastards

Here’s another song that has “OVERKILL” stamped on it in big metal letters. It’s kind of a par for the course, but these guys have been doing this so long, they know how to do it right. It is one of the best songs here as far as Bobby Blitz’s vocals go.

It’s All Yours

This one is really all over the map. It’s a complex song that goes from all-out thrash to slower stomp and even a really cool bluesy section where Blitz uses some of those smoky tones he demonstrated with his side project The Cursed. It’s a cool track and definitely a keeper.

In The Name

The hallmark of a great album is a strong ending. You get that in spades here. This is a real anthem that is super catchy and has a kind of drunken swagger to it that puts a smile on your face.  There’s a rousing singalong chorus that has the feel of an Irish drinking song. The album quite rightly fades out on that note. This is one killer song to top off another ace record from one of the best metal bands in the genre.

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