Written By Jason Voorhees
You don't have to go any further than your own backyard to recognize this week's band pick for top albums. Well of course we are talking about those scrappy thrashers from northern New Jersey...OVERKILL. The band's name was created out of the ashes of Motorhead's 1979 classic album.
Overkill has produced quite a catalog over the years including 19 studio albums.
While the group has endured numerous lineup changes; lead vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Elsworth and bassist DD. Verni have gone the distance. In the early years the band paid its dues playing in the famed clubs of NY and NJ including L'Amours. However; it wasn't until legendary producer Johnny Zazula took the group under his wings that they truly made their mark; a mark that they ultimately shattered.
Overkill became one of the early pioneers of thrash; but while many thrash superstars faded, they were able to adapt to changing sounds while still incorporating their own signature style of thrash. Their diversity has enabled them to stay relevant in the metal mainstream for a very long time.
While the band has had its share of low points, most of their albums have been above average and enjoyed at least some success. Their hard work and dedication has made them one of the most enduring thrash bands of all-time. So without further ado, sit back break open a cold one and come along as we chronicle the very best of the best in Overkill's celebrated catalog.
10. 'W.F.O.' (1994)
Did someone say biker love! The band painted a picture of their motorcycle infatuation with the title wide fucking open....and open up the throttle they did. The bass was doused with miracle grow while the rest of the instruments were cranked up to ten. This is an in your face orgy of powerful energy. Overkill put the pedal to the metal and let their bikes burn rubber. The record was a major step forward from it's predecessor "I Hear Black" which many considered an epic fail. Most tracks have plenty of sizzle and there is very little filler. Standout tracks include "Fast Junkie", "Up to Zero", "Supersonic Hate" and the enigmatic closer..."Gasoline Dream." Overkill was back to form on this one point blank.
9. 'White Devil Armory' (2014)
The new millennium version of Overkill continued to kick ass and take names with this release. The hot streak was evident as soon as the records' second track kicked into overdrive. From that moment a hurricane of thrash metal urgency ensues and the results are spectacular. The album is littered with the signature "Blitz" energy and attitude while that DD. Verdi lava is rotten to the core! "Armorist" became an instant cult classic but its those deep cuts like "Down to the Bone", "PIG" and "King of the Rat Bastards" that classify this album as a stone cold killer. Its almost like Overkill was able to blend their 90's groove influenced style with a modern thrash style sound. Almost effortless.
8. 'Under The Influence' (1988)
This may be the band's most underrated record. While it's often forgotten or pushed aside when ranking the best of, it's fair to say that those people are merely misinformed. The truth is that this album does seem to suffer from a poor sound production which probably fuels the negativity. Nonetheless, 'Under the Influence' shows a creative maturity for the band both musically and stylistically. "Hello From the Gutter" is like Iron Maiden meets thrash. "Shred" and "Never Say Never" is thrash metal to the core through and through. "Brainfade" simply scatters the brain. While "End of the Line" is only the beginning of the line for Overkill's creative juices. One of my all-time favorites.
7. 'Wings Of War' (2019)
After taking a step back on this albums' predecessor (The Grinding Wheel), Overkill once again hit the reset button resulting in another slam dunk. As strongly as the band opened the decade with 'Ironbound', they closed the decade out with a hammer in the coffin. With new drummer Jason Bittner in toe, the wrecking crew was full on blast once again. From beginning to end this record is wide fucking open, a full throttle speed and thrash metal masterpiece. Tracks like "Last Man Standing", "Believe in the Fight", "Batshit Crazy" and "Hole in My Soul" knock you on your ass. "Distortion" breathes fire, While "Welcome to the Garden State" leaves you feeling Sopranos. This is an awesome record and proves that Overkill is still alive and well!
6. 'The Electric Age' (2012)
How do you follow up a game changing album? Well that's easy...release another one. Coming off the heels of 'Ironbound', Overkill was able to once again channel their best effort. Another example of how this band has simply improved with age. 'The Electric Age' is a no nonsense assault on the ear drums. "Blitz" and company brought their A game and the hits just keep on coming. One of the best opening one-two punches in modern day metal with "Come and Get It" and "Electric Rattlesnake". The deep cuts leave you in awe struck...tracks like "Save Yourself", "Drop the Hammer" and "21st Century Man" would make any best of list in this modern day era. Another killer album by Overkill.
5. 'Feel The Fire' (1985)
The Jersey white boys were hot for the taking on this debut thriller. A raw and edgy thrash foray that has stood the test of time. 'Feel the Fire' is a full on thrash assault which features awe flexing riffs, raw inspired hooks and bridges, belting vocals and epic solos. Tracks like "There's No Tomorrow", "Hammerhead" and "Kill At Command" are thrash metal icons. While "Rotten to the Core" truly captures the signature "Blitz" overture of lead vocalist Bobby Ellsworth. Another superb release by Megaforce records made this album a force to be reckoned with. The albums closer "Sonic Reducer" may be the bands most underrated track of all-time! A stellar rookie release.
4. 'Ironbound' (2010)
Iron sharpens iron on this epic masterpiece. Spitting back in the face of recent failures, it was full speed ahead on this instant classic. Overkill decided to take a ride on the time machine back to their roots and the results were earth shattering. From the eye popping opener "The Green and Black" which leaves the listener reeling from a splitting headache. Then the title track which takes you on a tour of the bands hometown near Newark, NJ. From beginning to end this album shoots fire like a volcanic blast. Its a thrash metal symphony that preaches relentless energy and passion. The wrecking crew was once again back to the basics and the basics were just what the Dr. ordered!
3. 'Horrorscope' (1991)
Overkill took a page out of Pantera's playbook on this one and completely nailed it! While many thrash bands completely abandoned the thrash style, Overkill took that new found success of the groove style approach and mixed it into their formula. The result was one of their best albums ever. The opening track "Coma" is an epic opener that's easily one of the bands greatest songs ever produced. Other standout tracks include "Infectious", "Blood Money", "Bare Bones", "Horrorscope", and "Nice Day for a Funeral". The final track "Solitiude" is as close to ballad as Overkill has ever come and its extremely similar to "Cemetery Gates" by Pantera. Another game changing album!
2. 'Taking Over' (1987)
So much for the sophomore jinx. With one fellow swoop Overkill proclaimed they were 'Taking Over.' Although their efforts to overtake the embattled charts ultimately failed, their passion certainly relegated their status among thrash's greats. At this point, the "Wrecking Crew" was kicking ass and erasing names. This album remains one of the definitive thrash records that gets pointed to when reviewing this important genre. Very little filler on this album, its mostly all good. Other standout tracks include "Deny the Cross", "Powersurge" and "Electro-Violence". New Jersey's best could be seen riding their mascot "Chaly" to royalty at this point. An absolute beast of a record.
1. 'The Years Of Decay' (1989)
So they say the third times a charm....well for Overkill it was actually four. The crème de le crème and quintessential album of Overkill's catalog definitely resides here. There is no decay on this record as it simply sizzles with star power. While the band showed maturity on the previous record, they fine tuned that songwriting and this epic masterpiece ensued. "Time to Kill", "Elimination", "Birth of Tension", "Who Tends the Fire" and "Evil Never Dies" are all mainstay tracks in the bands arsenal. "I Hate" is a classic thrash thriller that features another level of peak songwriting both musically and stylistically. While the ten minute epic "Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher" leaves you feeling Sabbath. This is the peak of the mountain for Overkill and the best of the best.
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