Overkill are a NYC speed metal/thrash band that has been around as long as anybody who started in this scene, but unlike bands like Megadeth and Metallica, who have gone for a commercial sound, Overkill have remained true to their sound. Overkill actually started as a cover band and their name was taken from the Motorhead song of the same name. Before they were Overkill they played a few shows under the name Virgin Killer. Their original 1981 lineup was: Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth: vocals, D.D. Blaze: bass, Rat Skates: drums & Rob Pisarek aka Riff Thunder: guitars.
Overkill - Feel the Fire (Megaforce) 1985
After releasing "Death Rider" on Metal Massacre V, Overkill began to gain a following, especially in their home town of New York City. They then released this roughly recorded speed metal symphony. To be honest, I had not heard of them until "Taking Over" and it was years before I bought this one and it just pales in comparison to what I already was familiar with. Some would consider this a thrash classic however. "Rotten to the Core" a very punk influenced ditty and "Hammerhead" are my favorite songs from this one. This cd version has the bonus track "Sonic Reducer," which is a good song as well. This track was originally recorded for the Megaforce compilation "The Megavault" and is also included on the "Deeper Into the Vault" compilation. To bad Megaforce/Atlantic didn't include "Death Rider" as a bonus track as well.
Overkill - Rotten to the Core (Reborn Classics/CDR bootleg) 1992
1. "Rotten to the
A bootleg of a bootleg. This disc features rare demo tracks and some live material as well, including the Overkill EP, the Power In Black demo, a live promo, Live 'Kill and four songs recorded live in Europe. Tracks 5-9 are from the "Power in Black" demo. Tracks 10 and 11 are recorded Live at the Ritz in New York City on January 27, 1990. These two tracks, along with tracks 1-4 have also been released on "F*** You and then Some." Tracks 12-15 were recorded live in Europe, 1986. As far as I know, besides the Metal Massacre compilation this is the only place that "Death Rider" has ever been released. I don't think "The Beast Within" has ever been released officially. Not sure why these two tracks weren't rerecorded for "Feel the Fire" as both of them are prime Overkill. This was originally released on Reborn Classics, my copy is a perfect reproduction, complete with all the color inserts. Not exactly sure of the year of release on this bootleg.
This was actually the first Overkill album that I ever purchased. Considering I was from New Jersey and was heavy into the local metal scene back in the early 80's, I'm not sure what took so long for me to discover them. However, when I did, I couldn't stop playing them. I spun side two of the vinyl continually as it contained some killer hooks and riffs. "Powersurge"," In Union", "Electo-Violence", "Overkill II" are all classic Overkill tunes that still sound good decades later. "Wrecking Crew," a vicious thrasher, would become the name of their fan club as well as their web site. (www.wreckingcrew.com) The lyrics on this disc were still a bit immature, i.e. "Fatal If Swallowed" is a song about oral sex. Fortunately more thought provoking lyrics would come in the future. Still, there is no denying that Overkill's "Taking Over" is one of the classics of heavy metal. Many regard it as one of the albums that defined thrash metal as a genre.
Overkill - Fuck You and Then Some (Megaforce) 1987/1996
1. "Fuck You!"
This original EP (released in 1987) was banned for a long time. (Hmmm, I wonder why?!) This 1996 re-release contains a few bonus tracks including a live version of Black Sabbath's "Hole in the Sky" plus four studio demo cuts. "F.U." has become a signature song for Overkill, but is actually a thrashed up cover of a punk song by the Subhumans. The live material is ultra cool and the main reason I bought this EP. NYC attitude set to music.
Overkill - Under the Influence (Megaforce/Atlantic) 1987
"Under the Influence" is Overkill's most popular, well know and best selling albums. Indeed it is one of Overkill's best albums. Why this album didn't push Overkill to the top of the heap along with the Big Four of Thrash, I'll never understand. The production is raw, the performance is chock full of energy with an almost punk like fury and the songs are fast, heavy and memorable. Bobby Gustafson is a true shredder. The man wrote great riffs that were heavy, mostly fast and catchy as a big old night crawler on a hook. Together with Blitz's screaming vocals and D.D.'s pounding bass, who can deny the hook and power of songs like "Hello from the Gutter" or "Shred." The mere mention of these songs gets my head to banging. "Shred," "Hello from the Gutter," "Head First", "Brainfade" and "End of the Line" are all Overkill classics. The album closes out with the last song of the Overkill trilogy.
When I first got this disc some years ago, I must confess that I thought it sounded like the left over tracks from the "Under the Influence" session. Perhaps after totally loving "Under the Influence" I had my expectations up to high. However, over the years I have come to appreciate this disc as much as the others and list it as a classic thrash metal platter. Tracks like "Elimination" are classic Overkill. Blitz's snake like hiss was improving with each album. His ear-piercing shriek on "E.vil N.ever D.ies" is impressive. This song, I have read, is actually "Overkill IV" but for some reason it wasn't named as such. "Skullkrusher" is a slow heavy dirge sounding more like Black Sabbath than the punk influenced speed metal of every other song. "I Hate" is a straight up punk rocker and is another classic in the Overkill catalgue. Perhaps "The Years of Decay" was not the band's most focused album, after all it was at the point that the band's two main songwriters (Bobby Gustufson & D.D. Verni) were at each other throats. It was also sandwiched between two of the greatest thrash platters ever recorded ("Horrorscope" and "Under the Influence"), however it is still classic Overkill and contains some timeless metal.
Overkill - Horrorscope (Atlantic) 1991
Overkill was at their peak here. Despite recently losing guitarist/songwriter Bobby Gustafson, this disc was their best so far. Blitz's high pitch shriek fit in perfectly. When asked in Metal Maniacs which album Blitz would pick as his favorite Overkill thrash disc, he picked this one. I would agree, this disc is simply fabulous! Even the oddball cover of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" rocks! I would rank this album up with Megadeth's "Rust in Peace," Anthrax's "Spreading the Disease" and Metallica's "Master of Puppets." If that doesn't tell you how much I like this album, then you don't know anything about metal! Found my cd copy for $8 used. (Of course a few weeks later I found another used copy for $3.99. Darn, see how that works!)
Uh, oh, Overkill slow down a bit for this one and drop much of the punk influence. This one sounding more Metallica-like than anything they have ever done before. "World of Hurt" is a cool song, as is "Spiritual Void" both of which would soon make an appearance on their live album. Overall, this is a great album, although uncharacteristic for Overkill, if not a bit more musically mature than past releases. For many years I saw copies of this in used bins, but I haven't seen one recently.
Overkill - W.F.O. (Atlantic) 1994
1."Where it Hurts"
The mix on this album is absolutely terrible. The bass guitar dominates the mix, but it is so clanky and annoying that I can't stand it. Too bad because the music is top notch thrash metal. This is one of the first Overkill albums I bought on cd after getting rid of my vinyl collection some years before. It took me a long time to get back into Overkill because of it. Finally I bought "Taking Over" and then the scurry to re-build my Overkill collection was refueled. The hidden track is basically a sloppy studio jam of Black Sabbbath, Judas Priest & Jimi Hendrix. This would be their last major label release.
Overkill - Wrecking Your Neck Live (CMC International) 1995
I've heard people complain that Overkill are still doing the same kind of music, yet it's these same people who are complaining about bands like Metallica and Megadeth changing styles. Well, I applaud Overkill for staying true to themselves.Overkill is Overkill, they don't pretend to be anybody else. "The Killing Kind" is actually a return to form in my opinion. Blitz and crew have a new label and have recruited two new guitar players who seem to have motivated the whole band a bit. The sound, while still retaining the speed metal title, has changed a bit. "The Killing Kind" has more groove and even a bit more hardcore influence than anything Overkill has done in the past. I ate this album up, playing it over and over again. Pales slightly in comparison to "From the Undergound and Below" and "Necroshine" however.
I have two copies of this CD. The copy to the far left is the European tour edition that contains three bonus tracks, a tour poster, different cover art and an extra picture disc, which oddly enough doesn't contain any music. "Killology" is a great song. Can't believe it's only a b-side track and not an album track. (thanks Arttie) The copy in the middle is the American version and is autographed by the entire band.
From the Underground & Below is colder, more ridged, more technical and more mechanical than anything Overkill has done before. (Those are good things.) This album, as well as "The Killing Kind," seemed to be Overkill attempting to be taken more seriously. The punk influences of the past are just about gone and some more modern grooves are creeping in. There are even some samples thrown in here and there, which accounts for the slight industrial tinge the album has. Now, don't think that Overkill has sold out to trends, as this is still pure unadulterated heavy metal but their sound has progressed a bit over the years. Songs like "It Lives," "Rip n' Tear" and "Little Bit O' Murder" are all speed metal tunes but with a bit more groove in the riffs. This is actually a nice change as compared to the play it as fast as you can attitude of the past. "Promises" is a ballad!? Yes, an Overkill ballad. Best of all, it isn't bad; I actually enjoyed hearing the more melodic nature of this track. I am not exactly sure if this is true, but with Blitz dealing with some sort of cancer, this song may be a reflection of that experience. I really like this disc a lot. It's probably my favorite post "Horrorscope" Overkill album and one that has frequented my CD player over the years. The metal onslaught continues. . .
My copy is autographed by the entire "From the Underground & Below" line-up.
"Necroshine" picks up where "From the Underground" left off. There really isn't much difference between the two stylistically. Since I wore out "From the Underground" from playing it so much, it was cool to finally get a new disc from Overkill that I could also play the crap out of. A reviewer from Metal Maniacs said this was one of the best metal releases of 1999. I agree with that, but I still like "From the Underground" a little better. Still, there is some excellent material on this disc, including the incredible speed metal title track, "My December", and "Let Us Prey". I particularly like the way "Let Us Prey" builds from the slow, doomy opening to the mid-paced verses to the full throttle bridge/chorus. "Long Black Line" is another stand-out cut, with a sound that hints to the band's earlier punk meets speed metal style of the 80's. This song, as well as most of the rest of the disc, features some stellar guitar solos as well. Unfortunately this is something missing in much of the heavy music of the late 90's. Fortunately, Overkill have never been a band to care about trends and are one of the few bands that are still carrying a torch for real heavy metal. However, that is not to say that Overkill sound exactly the same as they have since their inception. As a matter of fact, much of the material on this disc has a bit more groove to it than the band's pure thrash metal discs of the past. I must admit that are a few tracks I did not care for as much like "Stone Cold Jesus", probably as much for the lyrical approach as for the music itself. As usual, Blitz seems to have a chip on his shoulder regarding organized religion and Christianity in particular, although the lyrics throughout this album are a bit more poetic and open for interpretation than some of the band's past discs. Overall, another fine metal platter from one of the few heavy metal band's to survive the 90's with some musical integrity.
Coverkill arrives only a few months after its predecessor "Necroshine." In the tradition of such artists as Metallica, Anthrax, etc., Overkill has released their own CD of cover songs, which is only natural for them considering Overkill started out as a cover band. Anyhow, Overkill chose to cover THREE Black Sabbath tunes. This should not be a surprise as they have been outspoken Sabbath fans since their inception and have covered a few of their songs in the past already, none of which are included on this compilation. The coolest Sabbath cover is "Never Say Die" as it is such an obscure Ozzy-era song. The Deep Purple cover "Space Truckin'," is from the Japanese version of "From the Underground and Below," thus negating my need to buy that expensive import version, which was on my want list. A cover of Motorhead's "Overkill" is only natural. "Deuce" is a smokin" cover of the "hottest band in the world" KISS! Some of the more bizzare choices for covers are: Manowar's "Death Tone" and Jethro Tull's "Hymn 43," both of which are pretty cool interpretations. "Tyrant" a Priest cover which also appeared on the Judas Priest Tribute disc, is one of the more lackluster covers on the album. The remaining songs are all of the punk variety; the Ramones "I'm Against It" being the funniest. (I'm against Burger King! HA!) The Dead Boys ("Ain't Nothin' to Do") and the Sex Pistols ("No Feelings") are sort of stiff and don't work as well as the metal covers. Liner notes include thoughts by D.D. Verni & Blitz about each song. Also of note, guitar shredder Dave Linsk was added to the line-up for this album.
Once again, Overkill does not fail to deliver the goods. This disc is 100% metal, staying true to the formula that works best for them, and the one that I prefer. Excellent grooves throughout, as well as another stellar production. Once again, Overkill are back to a four piece with new guitarist Dave Linsk, who also played on some of Overkill's "Coverkill" disc. Still on board is bassist DD Verni, vocalist Blitz Ellsworth, and longtime drummer Tim Malone.
Overkill - Then & Now (Sanctuary) 2002
A repackaging of a bunch of previously recorded songs. This particular compilation features tracks from the post Atlantic & Megaforce years (1995 - 2000). The booklet includes photos from each era of the band as well as photos of the albums represtented on this compilation. Not really an essential item, but a decent listen nonetheless. Whoever chose the tracks did a decent job of picking out some of the standout cuts. Personally I would have rather have had two more studio tracks or a rarity like "Killology" than the two live tracks.
Yet another fine live offering from Overkill. This one comes on the heels of their signing with Spitfire Records and features material from their last four studio albums and a few from their earlier albums that didn't appear on "Wrecking Your Neck Live". Old favorites like "Shred" and "In Union We Stand" sound as good as ever. However, in my opinion the newer tracks are just as good, if not better than those old metal standards. "Necroshine" and "Thunderhead" are twice as aggressive, yet just as infectious as anything the band has done. I don't know how much studio editing was done but the band sounds incredibly tight. Unlike the last two live discs from Overkill, this disc was not recorded in Cleveland but in Overkill's home state of New Jersey, which also happens to have been my stomping ground for some 18 years. The Asbury Park crowd is wild and loud and totally adds to the heavy atmosphere of this disc. Twenty years later Overkill are still one of the best thrash metal bands around and one of the few who have stayed faithful to the sound and style.
Overkill - Live-Wrecking Everything DVD (Spitfire) 2002
Killer two DVD live set. Disc one features the entire Asbury Park, NJ concert from the "Wrecking Everything Live" CD. Wish the CD would have included the entire show as well. In anycase, Overkill put on a great performance. Disc two features interview footage as well as live footage from years past. Overall, an excellent package that is a must for Overkill fans. DTS digital surround sound to boot.
Overkill - Extended Versions (BMG) 2002
1. "Coma" (3:53)
Great performance by Overkill, unfortunately this is just a cheesy BMG rip-off! "Extended Versions" is a low budget repackaging of "Wrecking Your Neck Live" that is not only short on packaging, but short on songs as well.
Overkill have taken a lot of heat over the years from scoffers. However, if there is one thing I applaud Overkill for it's that they are consistently and unashamedly metal! They really have never failed to disappoint me, choosing to play metal that is true to their style rather than following any trend or worrying about what reviewers think or say. While they have progressed over the years and have experimented with sounds here and there, no one would ever accuse Overkill of trying to 'sell out.' Overkill is a metal machine that just keeps rumbling along, destroying all scoffers who get in their way. "Killbox 13" is named as such because it is their 13th studio release. "Killbox" includes ten standout songs each sounding like a blend of styles from past albums, yet without sounding dated. "Struck Down," has a sound that is reminiscent of the thrash metal from "Feel The Fire". "I Rise" could have been part of the "Taking Over"-era of the band and "Crystal Clear" sounds somewhat like a blend of "Skullkrusher" ("The Years Of Decay") and "Spiritual Void" ("I Hear Black"). "Until I Die" reminds me somewhat of "Burn You Down/To Ashes" from "The Killing Kind." Similarly, "Devil By the Tail" is similar in style to the band's last album, "Bloodletting". Actually, this track totally annihilates. The opening skull crushing riff had me banging my head, that is until about a minute and a half into the track when the riff becomes even more infectious and groove laden. Just try and stay still once this riff kicks in. Metalheads from miles around will break into spontaneous fits of motion. This is going to be a monster song in concert! "Crystal Clear" is a doomy number that has a riff that reminds me of Trouble or Black Sabbath. (Big surprise there!) The production on this disc is outstanding; monstrously heavy, yet each instrument is clearly heard. The band's rhythm section is not buried in the mix whatsoever. D.D.'s bass is clear and present, while Tim Mallare's speedy double kick is front and center. Lead guitarist Dave Linsk makes his presence very known and adds some tasty and skillful guitar solos throughout the disc. Of course "Blitz" fills out the sound and gives the band their signature sound. Reading through the lyrics, while Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth is still somewhat dark and angry, he is also quite poetic. His lyrics can be interpreted a number of different ways. Overall, another stellar efforts from a band that has climbed it's way up my favorite band list. As with their past few albums, "Killbox 13" will dominated my CD player for a long time.
Overkill has continued over the years to pour out some of the finest heavy metal ever. Some fans seem to think that Overkill changed for the worse over the years. I disagree and think the band has not only improved as musicians and songwriters, but also I think the band has their finest line-up ever with the amazing Dave Linsk on guitars. In anycase, ReliXIV continues in a similar mode as the last few Overkill platters, offering fans a mixture of thrash and groove based heavy metal. Relix IV continues what Killbox 13 started by making their new style heavier, a bit faster, more aggressive and overall better played. There are a few slower moments on this disc, but even these songs are quite enjoyable. As has been the case with the last 3-4 Overkill albums, the lead-off track is outstanding. That is certainly the case with "Within Yur Eyes." Likewise "A Pound Of Flesh" delivers shredding fast heavy guitar riffs from start to finish. "Bats in the Belfry" is a heavy song with a killer hook. "Loaded Rack" features a throw back riff to the older Overkill style briefly in the beginning; dark and fast paced reminding me slightly of Horrorscope. "Old School" is a funny, punk-based anthem that really reminds me of the Overkill of old. This song had me laughing from the first verse right through the end. Great, great song! "ReliXIV" is another solid effort from Overkill. I can't imagine any long-time fan of the band being disappointed. Now if they would only go on tour and come through my neck of the woods. Although this CD doesn't actually come out until March 22, I am writing this review well over a month in advance from a pre-release CDR copy that I have. However, you can bet that I will be in line on March 22nd to purchase my copy and support real metal. (...and that is exactly what I did.)
I had my CD autographed by DD Verni, Dave Linsk and Blitz on Sept. '05 when Overkill performed at the Lauchpad in Albuquerque.
Climbing back out of the
gutters to unleash yet another Overkill platter on the world, "Immortalis" is
Overkill's 14th studio release. Being an Overkill fanatic from way, way back,
it's really hard for me to be partial. I tend to devour new Overkill CDs like
I haven't had any music to listen to for months. Such was the case with "Immortalis".
Within the first three days of owning this CD I had already played it five or
six times. As with any of the more recent Overkill outputs, some people will
be put off by the fact that Overkill are still following in the thrash/groove/heavy
metal mode that they have been doing since the mid-90's. This time around they
slow things down a bit more with some of those Black Sabbath inspired songs
that we use to hear on the old Atlantic albums. "Hellish Pride" and "Head On"
are prime examples of the mid-paced groove that is Sabbath inspired. "Walk Through
The Fire", on the other hand, is a nod to AC/DC.
Despite these more traditional metal songs, there is some speed on this album
as well. Opening track "Devils in the Mist" is a thrasher. "Skull and Bones"
features Randall Blythe (Lamb of God) on vocals and is surprisingly a
very good song. When I read that Blythe was to be a guest on an Overkill album,
I must confess I was a bit worried, not being a fan of Lamb of God. I saw Lamb
of God and Overkill together on the Gigantour and I remember seeing Blitz
standing on the side of the stage watching Lamb of God's entire performance,
so he is obviously a fan. A big highlight on this album is the next installment
in the "Overkill" series, "Overkill V...The Brand". For those who donít know
"E.vil N.ever D.ies" from "The Years Of Decay" (1989) was the fourth in the
series, even though it wasn't named that way on the album. This is probably
the song that sound the most like Overkill of old, although the production is
miles ahead of anything the band did in the 1980's. "Immortalis" is yet another
excellent addition the ever-growing, metallic, Overkill catalog.
Overkill - The Electric Age (eOne Music) 2012