Although everybody seems to have a different account of who came first in the world of New York/New Jersey area thrash metal, it seems certain that New Jersey’s Overkill have stayed around the longest, and have never let their fans down by remaining musically consistent and true to their roots for over 20 years and an unprecedented 14 full length albums.
Through much hard work and a slew of infamous live performances at New York area clubs like L’Amours, Overkill established a reputation as a blue-collar, working man’s metal band. After the band released a self-financed EP in 1984, Overkill broke onto the scene in 1985 with Feel The Fire (info), a crushing thrash assault on Megaforce Records, the label to beat when it came to 80’s thrash. The self-proclaimed “Wrecking Crew” - originally consisting of vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, bassist D.D. Verni, guitarist Bobby Gustafson, and drummer Rat Skates - were on a tear, borrowing heavily from punk rock roots while adding a venomous metal crunch that allowed them to compete favorably with peers like Testament, Anthrax, and Megadeth.
By 1987’s Taking Over (info), the band had worked their way up to a deal with Atlantic Records. This relationship would last another 7 years based on the strength and consistency of Overkill’s music.
1988’s Under The Influence (info) and 1989’s The Years Of Decay (info | shop) represent Overkill in their prime. Sid Falck would replace Rat Skates on drums to bring his own brutal percussive assault to Verni’s already powerful rhythm section. The band had already established a rabid fan base with songs like “Rotten To The Core” and “Hammerhead” (as well as their infamous cover of D.O.A.’s “Fuck You”), and new songs like “Evil Never Dies” and “Hello From The Gutter” would become Overkill mainstays as well. A video for “Hello From The Gutter” was garnering much fan response when it received play on MTV’s “Headbangers Ball”.
1991’s Horrorscope (info | shop) would bring great changes for Overkill. Gustafson left the band to pursue other interests. In his place, the band recruited two guitarists, Rob Cannevino and Merritt Gant (ex Faith Or Fear), making them a 5-piece engine of destruction. Rather than letting Gustafson’s exit, and the resulting backlash from fans, bring them down, Overkill shifted into an even higher, more brutal gear.
1993’s I Hear Black (info | shop) saw the departure of Sid Falck, and the arrival of Tim Mallare, who would continue on with the band for over 10 years, and still calls Overkill home today. 1994’s W.F.O. would be Overkill’s final album with Atlantic, as they would release their first official full-length live assault, Wrecking Your Neck (info | shop) on CMC in 1995.
1996-1999 would see Overkill release 3 more full length albums (Killing Kind [info], From The Underground and Below [info] and Necroshine [info | shop]) as well as a collection of live tracks and fan favorites (Fuck You! And Then Some [info]) and an album of cover tunes (Coverkill [info | shop]) with the addition of Joe Comeau (ex-Liege Lord) and Sebastion Marino (ex-Anvil) on guitars.
In 2000, Overkill released Bloodletting (info | shop) on Metal-Is, adding guitarist Dave Linsk to the fray. The current Overkill lineup would be completed with the release of the live album Wrecking Everything (info | shop) and the addition of second guitarist Derek Tailer in 2002. - Finally, Overkill would release one of their most well-received albums to date Killbox 13 (info | shop) on Spitfire Records in 2003. As fans rabidly await the imminent release of their latest contribution on Spitfire, ReliXIV (info | shop), it seems obvious that Overkill are, and always have been, a band that knows who their fans are, knows what true metal fans expect, and will settle for nothing but the best from themselves. An entirely self-produced album ReliXIV, is a continuation of the Overkill legacy.
Now with Bodog Music, the band is set to rejoin forces with Jonny and Marsha Zazula, previous owners of Megaforce Records, who are now part of the Bodog Team in the United States. Overkill will unleash its 15th studio album, Immortalis (info), on October 9, 2007. The upcoming album features Overkill's latest lineup, which, along with founders Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and D.D. Verni, includes guitarists Derek "The Skull" Tailer and Dave Linsk, as well as the newest member to join the band, drummer Ron Lipnicki. - There are few names as well respected as Overkill, and with the resurgence of metal in the music world, this band is poised to return to the top. Overkill are ready to show mature metal heads they still have it and are geared up to teach the new schoolers exactly how it's done.
In 2009 Overkill signed a contract with Nuclear Blast and joined the big family. In 2010 they released the eagerly awaited and acclaimed label debut “Ironbound” (info | shop)! Headlining tours (“Killfest”) across the old continent and successful gigs on almost every big European festivals followed. This album took Overkill back where they belong: the top!
2012, the 32nd year since their establishment, marks another milestone for the band: “The Electric Age” (info | shop), the 16th album! Blitz describes that the “Ironbound” era had felt like a rebirth, which makes the new album feel like the subsequent, wild youth.
The 34nd year of the bands existence 2014 marks another milestone for OVERKILL: the 17th album, »White Devil Armory« (info | shop)- Blitz himself describing the »The Electric Age« era had kind of a “rebirth feeling to it”, the new offering can perfectly be depicted as the raw and wild youth that naturally follows.
Thinking of »The Electric Age« as kind of a “revival” of what OVERKILL is about, »White Devil Armory« with all the trademarks you love about this band, refreshing them and adding a modern age feeling, without denying their roots and sticking to the original sound, is the essence of OVERKILL.