“Nobody opens their favorite beer and wonders what it will taste like”. So begins the press release for the new Overkill album, White Devil Armory. There’s no hope in arguing with such a sentence, since it’s obviously correct: we like what we like and we mostly know what to expect from it. However, can we not also expand our horizons and try and remember those times when something we loved completely surprised us? Like Opeth‘s Damnation, like the first time you try sriracha and nutella, getting surprised by something you thought you knew is a rare treat.
No such tasteful explorations can be expected here. This album is pure Overkill and that’s probably a good thing for fans of the band. The production is obviously top notch as this band has been around too long for anything else. They know their own sound very well and work with the best names in the field. This time we have Greg Reely (Devin Townsend, Fear Factory) on the mix. To be honest, it could have been any other big name: the bass is chunky and metallic, the guitars dominating everything above. The drums go fast and cymbal-heavy, with the vocals crowning the whole thing on top.
The vocals are by far the best part of this album. Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth is a veteran of his own style, having been one of its very first founders, but he has lost none of his power and clarity. Having suffered a stroke a few years back, he is not displaying any signs of slowing down. His voice lends itself well to what is possibly the best track on this record, ‘Pig’. The chorus calls for disgusted screaming and that’s exactly what Ellsworth gives us. The rage and disgust shine through the breakneck riffs and captivate the listener.
Sadly, few high points like ‘Pig’ exist on the album. The next two tracks, ‘Bitter Pill’ and ‘Where’s the Smoke’, both collapse into stale and blindingly obvious structures: a few uninspired riffs and leads, a chorus and a solo to close off the track. The next time we hear anything interesting from this album is during the Pantera-infused beginning of ‘King of the Rat Bastards’, with its slower riffs and excellent cymbal work. The transition at its end is also quite interesting, breaking apart the main riff into a hectic bridge that carries us right into the backing vocals of the chorus.
Bottom line, this is indeed that proverbial favorite beer, carrying the same flavor you expected when you bought it at the local supermarket. Again, is that necessarily a bad thing? Hardly. Sometimes, at the end of a long day, you just want to kick back and experience that good old familiar buzz. Drink too often however and the taste soon grows stale. Do you not start to hunger for a switch, perhaps something imported? One will have to reach farther than the Overkill aisle for that, as this new release plays it quite safe.
Overkill – White Devil Armory Gets…