Barricade, the first true solo record from Overkill bassist and bandleader DD Verni, is a clear indication of the musician’s ability to write more than just thrash and doom metal. With the help of guest guitarists, Verni exercises his creative muscles with ten songs, hitting several rock and metal sub-genres.
The speedy album opener, “Fire Up,” has some trademark Overkill attitude running through the song, with lyrics about living life full throttle, while retaining somewhat of a punk defiance. Among the traces of familiar Verni swagger are “(We Are) The Broken Ones,” featuring pounding riffs and double-bass drumming. But the chorus generally goes in a brighter direction and the tempo shifts to more of a power metal anthem.
Verni might not have the vocal range of Overkill’s Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, but on Barricade, he can ably carry a tune. “The Party of No” is a fun, but possible political statement-maker, where DDV’s voice lifts off with the help of group vocals during the chorus. Verni also channels his best James Hetfield impression during “Off My Leash,” which could easily be a standout on a latter-day Metallica album.
Barricade’s guest guitarists, including Michael Romeo of Symphony X, Annihilator’s Jeff Waters and Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Angus Clark, to name a few, help broaden the scope from punk and classic rock to metal. On “We Were Young,” Verni celebrates his Queen influences with a piano-led anthem, ultimately sounding as though the music could be a 1990s beer commercial or perhaps a rock radio hit. While the cut would never make it to an Overkill release, Blitz’s higher-pitch vocals could fit nicely and even elevate the collection to classic status.
The variety in Verni’s output is refreshing, since one could argue that Overkill’s formula hasn’t changed much in the last ten years (and if it ain’t broke…). While the 57-year-old metal mainstay will be back with Overkill in 2019, Barricade is an indication of Verni’s ability to produce quality music which should attract new listeners and maybe even expand the horizons of some of the most devoted thrash fans.
Barricade is available now. Visit here for a recent interview with DD Verni about the making of Barricade as well as some Overkill updates.
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