Overkill (band)

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Overkill Party.San Metal Open Air 2017 20.jpg
Overkill at San Metal Open Air 2017. From left to right: Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, Derek Tailer, D. D. Verni, Jason Bittner and Dave Linsk.
Background information
Origin Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Thrash metal
Years active1980–present
Associated acts Anthrax
Website www.wreckingcrew.com
Members D. D. Verni
Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth
Dave Linsk
Derek Tailer
Jason Bittner

Overkill is an American thrash metal band, formed in 1980 in New Jersey. They have gone through many line-up changes, leaving bassist D. D. Verni and lead vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth as the only constant members. In addition to Verni and Ellsworth, Overkill's current lineup includes Dave Linsk on lead guitar, Derek Tailer on rhythm guitar and Jason Bittner on drums. Along with Nuclear Assault and Anthrax, whose one-time lead guitarist Dan Spitz was also an early member of Overkill, [1] [2] the band is one of the most successful East Coast thrash metal bands, and they are often called "the Motörhead of thrash metal". [3] [4] The band has a notable mascot named "Chaly", a skeletal bat with a skull-like face, horns, bony wings and green eyes, who has appeared on most of their album covers.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

New Jersey State of the United States of America

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, making it the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states with its biggest city being Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

D. D. Verni American musician

Carlo "D.D." Verni is an American musician, songwriter, and producer, best known as the founding member, bassist and songwriter of the band Overkill. Overkill released their first record in 1985 and with their contemporaries helped define a new genre of music, "thrash metal". Overkill have released 18 full-length albums as well as two live albums and EPs, and several DVDs. They have done thousands of shows for millions of fans and toured extensively. They have appeared in many major music publications and have sold millions of records worldwide. Verni's signature bass sound is regarded as one of the most definable in heavy metal.


To date, Overkill has released nineteen studio albums, an album of cover songs, two EPs, one demo tape and three live albums. They were one of the first thrash metal bands to sign to a major label (Atlantic Records in 1986), and rose to fame as part of the genre's movement of the mid-to-late 1980s, along with the "big four" (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax) and other bands such as Exodus and Testament. [5] Overkill achieved their first mainstream success with its second studio album and Atlantic debut, Taking Over (1987), which peaked at number 191 on the Billboard 200. [6] The band's next five studio albums— Under the Influence (1988), The Years of Decay (1989), Horrorscope (1991), I Hear Black (1993) and W.F.O. (1994)—were also successful on the Billboard charts, with the latter two cracking the top ten on the Top Heatseekers chart. [6] [7] Following their split from Atlantic in 1995, Overkill went through some label changes, but continued to enjoy moderate underground success, particularly in Europe and Japan. [8] [9] The band experienced a resurgence of popularity in their home country during the 2010s, with three of their studio albums released that decade— The Electric Age (2012), White Devil Armory (2014) and The Grinding Wheel (2017)—reaching the top 100 on the charts. [6] Overkill has sold over 16 million records worldwide; they are also estimated to have sold more than 625,000 records in the United States since the beginning of the SoundScan era. [10] [11]

<i>Coverkill</i> 1999 studio album by Overkill

Coverkill is an album consisting of covers released by thrash metal band Overkill in 1999. The album consists of cover songs by artists that influenced the band, including Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Kiss, Judas Priest, Jethro Tull, Ramones, Sex Pistols and Manowar. This was Overkill's first release with guitarist Dave Linsk.

Cover version later version of a song already established with a different earlier performer

In popular music, a cover version, cover song, revival, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording by someone other than the original artist or composer of a previously recorded, commercially released song.

Extended play musical recording longer than a single, but shorter than a full album

An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.


Early years (1980–1983)

Verni (right) gave Ellsworth (left) the nickname "Blitz" due to his over the top lifestyle. Overkill - Jalometalli 2008 - 02.JPG
Verni (right) gave Ellsworth (left) the nickname "Blitz" due to his over the top lifestyle.

Overkill was formed in 1980 from the ashes of the punk band "the Lubricunts", featuring bassist D. D. Verni and drummer Rat Skates. Verni and Skates placed an ad looking for a guitarist and lead singer which was answered by guitarist Robert Pisarek and singer Bobby Ellsworth and the first incarnation of Overkill was formed. [12] After rejecting several names, including "Virgin Killer," the band finally settled on "Overkill," named after Motörhead's famed album.

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.

Rat Skates American musician and film producer

Rat Skates is a filmmaker, writer and musician. He is most widely known as a director of music documentaries and his contributions to the thrash metal genre as the founding drummer of Overkill.

Motörhead English rock band

Motörhead were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor on drums and "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitars.

Early covers, especially those done under the "Virgin Killer" name, were punk songs by the Ramones, Dead Boys and others. By late 1980, the band's setlist was made up of songs by bands such as Motörhead ("Overkill", half of the Ace of Spades album), Judas Priest ("Tyrant" was their closer), and Riot. Along with the new influx of heavy metal covers, the band still played a smattering of punk covers, with extra distortion, intensity, and speed. In 1981, the band went through a succession of guitarists after Robert Pisarek left, first being replaced by Dan Spitz and Anthony Ammendola, then Rich Conte and Mike Sherry, before settling with Bobby Gustafson in late 1982/early 1983. [12] It was around this time that the band started writing original songs, including "Grave Robbers" (later renamed "Raise the Dead"), "Overkill", and "Unleash the Beast (Within)". More songs would follow, such as "Death Rider" (1981) and "Rotten to the Core" (1982). As the band continued to write songs, they became a staple at New York and New Jersey clubs, such as L'Amours.

Ramones American punk rock band

The Ramones were an American punk rock band that formed in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens in 1974. They are often cited as the first true punk rock group. Despite achieving only limited commercial success initially, the band was highly influential in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Dead Boys American punk rock band

Dead Boys were an American punk rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. The band was among the first wave of punk bands, and was known as one of the rowdiest and most violent punk groups of the era. Dead Boys were formed by vocalist Stiv Bators, lead guitarist Cheetah Chrome, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Zero, bassist Jeff Magnum, and drummer Johnny Blitz in 1976, splintering off of the band Rocket From The Tombs. They released two studio albums, Young Loud and Snotty and We Have Come for Your Children.

Overkill (Motörhead song) song by Motörhead

"Overkill" is a song by the British hard rock band Motörhead. It was released in 7" and 12" vinyl pressings in 1979. It is backed with B-side "Too Late Too Late" which appears on the CD re-issues of the Overkill album. Early copies came with a free "Overkill" badge. The single reached number 39 on the UK Singles Chart.

Feel the Fire (1983–1986)

In 1983, the lineup of Verni, Skates, Ellsworth, and Gustafson released the Power in Black demo, a recording that made as much impact in the underground tape trading circuit as demos by up-and-coming Bay Area thrash metal bands such as Exodus and Testament. Power in Black gained the band two compilation appearances. "Feel the Fire" was included on New York Metal '84 and "Death Rider" appeared on volume V of Metal Blade Records' Metal Massacre series. The success of Power in Black enabled the band to secure a small recording deal with Azra/Metal Storm Records that resulted in the 1985 four-track EP Overkill , which quickly sold out, instantly pushing the band to the forefront of the fledgling thrash metal movement.

<i>Power in Black</i> 1983 studio album (Demo) by Overkill

Power in Black is the first demo from American thrash metal band Overkill in 1983, although some songs had been recorded previously, such as "The Beast Within". Three of the songs from this demo were re-recorded for Overkill's debut Feel the Fire, while "The Beast Within" and "Death Rider" have never been re-recorded on future albums.

Bay Area thrash metal, or "Bay Area thrash", referred to a steady following of heavy metal bands in the 1980s who formed and gained international status in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Along with South Florida, the scene was widely regarded as a starting point of American thrash metal and death metal.

Exodus (American band) American thrash metal band

Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. They have gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members. Their current lineup consists of guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus, bassist Jack Gibson, drummer Tom Hunting, and lead vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza. Hunting is one of the original members, and departed from Exodus twice, in 1989 and 2004, but rejoined in 2007. Holt joined the band about two years after its formation, and is the only member of Exodus to appear on all their releases.

Though it is said that the band never saw any money from the release, the Overkill EP garnered the band massive underground interest, and the attention of Jon Zazula, owner of Megaforce Records, one of the most prominent independent heavy metal record labels at the time. Megaforce signed Overkill to a multi-album record contract and released their full-length debut album Feel the Fire in 1985. Hailed by many critics and fans as a thrash metal masterpiece, the album cemented the band's position as one of the driving forces of the East Coast thrash movement. The band spent the better part of 1985 and 1986 touring in support of Feel the Fire, touring Europe with Anthrax and Agent Steel, and supporting Slayer on their Reign in Blood tour in North America. [13]

Jon Zazula, also known as Jonny Z, is the owner of New Jersey's Rock'n Roll Heaven record store and founder of record label Megaforce Records. Zazula's record store in East Brunswick, New Jersey made him a central figure of the East Coast metal scene, regularly playing demo tapes sent to him through his underground tape-trading network which included the likes of Brian Slagel of Metalblade Records, Ron Quintana, and producer Mark Whitaker. He was also somewhat of a mentor to Eddie Trunk.

Megaforce Records is an American independent record label founded in 1982 by Jon Zazula and his wife Marsha Zazula to publish the first works of Metallica. It has offices in New York City and Philadelphia. The label is distributed in the United States by RED Distribution, having previously been distributed by Atlantic Records from 1982 to 1987 while Anthrax' recordings from 1988 to 1993 were marketed by Island Records.

<i>Feel the Fire</i> (Overkill album) 1985 studio album by Overkill

Feel the Fire is the debut studio album by thrash metal band Overkill, released on October 15, 1985 through Megaforce Records.

Rise to success (1987–1990)

1987 saw the release of Overkill's second album Taking Over , the first to be released by Megaforce in cooperation with the major label Atlantic Records. The album featured longer songs and improved production. The song "In Union We Stand" was chosen to be Overkill's first music video. Another European tour followed, this time opening for Helloween. Overkill also opened for Megadeth on their Peace Sells tour in North America, and toured with the likes of Testament and Nuclear Assault. [13]

In late 1987, the !!!Fuck You!!! EP was released, consisting of a studio recording of the Subhumans' song "Fuck You" as well as a handful of live tracks recorded earlier that year in Cleveland. 1987 also saw the departure of founding drummer Rat Skates. He was replaced by Mark Archibole for a short time, then on a permanent basis by Danish drummer Bob "Sid" Falck, formerly of Paul Di'Anno's Battlezone.

Overkill released their third album, Under the Influence , in 1988. Once again produced by Alex Perialas, who had worked on the band's first two albums, Under the Influence was much more raw and thrashy, lacking most of the epic atmosphere heard on Taking Over. The song "Hello from the Gutter" was released as a single, and the music video gained regular airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball . Overkill kept up constant touring all over the world, furthering their reputation as one of the most active live metal bands; this included opening for Slayer on their South of Heaven tour in the United States and Europe, and performing with other bands such as Anthrax, Motörhead, Anvil, Nuclear Assault, M.O.D., Testament, Vio-Lence, King's X, Prong, Murphy's Law, Ludichrist and Znowhite. [13]

Overkill released their fourth album The Years of Decay in 1989. Produced by Terry Date (who would later work with Pantera, White Zombie and Soundgarden), the album featured the band's best production value to date, and combined the raw approach of Under the Influence with more complex song structures and epic elements of Taking Over, resulting in a more serious atmosphere and longer songs, including the eight-minute title track and the ten-minute "Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher." The uptempo thrasher "Elimination" was released as a single and the music video again received regular airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball. The song became a fan favorite and has been played live at almost every show since its release. Overkill toured for almost a year in support of The Years of Decay with several bands, such as Testament, Wolfsbane, Dark Angel, Vio-Lence, Mordred, Death Angel, Whiplash and Excel. [13]

Horrorscope, I Hear Black and W.F.O. (1990–1995)

D. D. Verni and Dave Linsk at Jalometalli 2008. Overkill - Jalometalli 2008 - 03.JPG
D. D. Verni and Dave Linsk at Jalometalli 2008.

In 1990, guitarist and songwriter Bobby Gustafson left the band. Verni and Gustafson had long locked horns over the direction of the band, with Ellsworth siding with Verni, and asking Gustafson to leave Overkill. Gustafson has stated that one of the reasons for his split with Overkill was due to disagreements over royalties, which contributed to his feud with Verni and Ellsworth. [14] The remaining members added two new guitarists to the band; Rob Cannavino, who had been Gustafson's guitar technician, and Merritt Gant.

The "new" Overkill recorded their fifth album Horrorscope , again with Terry Date, in 1991. Featuring the furious riffs and trade-off solos of new guitarists Cannavino and Gant, and the refined songwriting of Verni and Ellsworth, Horrorscope quickly silenced fan fears that the loss of a chief songwriter would ruin the band. Today, the album is widely regarded as one of Overkill's defining moments and is arguably their heaviest release. Focusing on a darker, heavier style, the album spawned the doomy single "Horrorscope", a departure from the band's earlier singles, which had traditionally been uptempo songs. The band continued to tour constantly, fully cementing their reputation as one of the premier live bands of the genre.

In 1992, during the Horrorscope tour, Sid Falck left the band. Admittedly never a big fan of thrash metal music, Falck said that he had initially wanted to push his drumming to the limit by playing the most complex type of music (of the era), and in time he decided to pursue other musical interests.

Falck was replaced by M.O.D. drummer Tim Mallare, with whom the 1993 album I Hear Black was recorded. Produced by Alex Perialas (who previously produced their albums Taking Over and Under the Influence), I Hear Black was the first Overkill album released directly through Atlantic Records. The album once again presented a change in style, from the heavy thrash of Horrorscope to a more stoner/blues rock-oriented style influenced by Black Sabbath. The eclectic nature of the album is often attributed to the fact that many different songwriters were involved. Verni and Ellsworth would handle most of the song writing themselves on subsequent albums, with only minor contributions from the other members. A music video was shot for "Spiritual Void" but failed to receive much airplay. The European leg of the 1993 "World Of Hurt Tour" featured Savatage and Non-Fiction as support acts.

Overkill's self-produced seventh album W.F.O. (which stands for "Wide Fuckin' Open", a common biker term) was released on July 15, 1994 as an answer to the criticism that I Hear Black had received. The album presented a fast, heads-down, old school thrash metal style without any of the experimental elements present on the previous record. The music video for "Fast Junkie" was widely ignored by MTV, due to changing mainstream tastes and limited airplay availability for metal bands. Overkill continued to have bigger success overseas, mounting an extensive European tour in the fall, supported by Jag Panzer and Massacra.

With grunge dominating the airwaves in the United States, many heavy metal radio stations changing formats and Headbangers Ball going off the air, W.F.O. failed to find an audience and in 1995 Overkill left Atlantic Records. Overkill were happy to leave the mainstream label, where they felt they received little or no attention and signed to different record companies around the world (CMC International in the US).

A March 1995 show, once again in Cleveland, Ohio, was recorded for Overkill's first full-length live album, a 100-minute double CD entitled Wrecking Your Neck . The album was released in April 1995, with the first pressing featuring a bonus CD containing the Overkill EP that had been out of print for ten years. A music video for the song "Bastard Nation" taken from Wrecking Your Neck was also released, but again failed to receive airplay in the US.

Post-Atlantic years (1996–2001)

Late in 1995, both Cannavino and Gant decided to leave the band; Rob Cannavino to focus on motorcycle racing, and Merritt Gant to spend more time with his family. To everyone's surprise, Overkill then hired Joe Comeau, former singer of Liege Lord (now playing guitar).[ citation needed ] Comeau brought along former Anvil guitarist Sebastian Marino, with whom he had worked in the past. The new line up recorded The Killing Kind in 1996, again self-produced and mixed by Chris Tsangarides (Judas Priest). While staying well within the thrash genre, the album was a departure from its predecessor's more traditional thrash metal style and featured different elements such as hardcore, while the vocals showed influences from a broad spectrum of music. As Comeau was also a singer, backing vocals on The Killing Kind and subsequent albums were more elaborate and frequent than before, adding another element to the band's sound. Press response to The Killing Kind was very positive, but the album remains a hotly contested topic among the band's audience, with some longtime fans resistant to the new modern elements, and others hailing The Killing Kind as one of the band's finest moments.[ citation needed ]

Overkill toured Europe twice in support of The Killing Kind first in February 1996 with Megora and Accu§er, and then again in November with Anvil and Stahlhammer. In the summer of 1996, Overkill appeared on Volume 2 of Century Media's "Legends Of Metal – A Tribute To Judas Priest" compilation, to which they contributed 'Tyrant'.

In summer 1997, the band released !!!Fuck You!!! and Then Some . The album included the !!!Fuck You!!! EP, which had been out of print for some years, along with the classic Overkill EP and two live tracks from a 1990 promo single. October of the same year saw the release of the ninth Overkill studio album, titled From The Underground And Below . This record retained some of the modern influences from The Killing Kind, while also reincorporating elements from the band's earlier efforts. Some songs on From The Underground And Below, including "Save Me", even had a slight industrial metal sound to them. Reportedly a video for the track "Long Time Dyin'" was shot, but received no television exposure.[ citation needed ] In 1998, once again the band opted to tour only Europe in support of the album, hitting the road with Nevermore, Angel Dust and Nocturnal Rites.

In 1998, Ellsworth was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of nose cancer and underwent immediate surgery, stopping the cancer before it spread.[ citation needed ] After his recovery, the band started work on their tenth studio album. The self-produced Necroshine was released in February 1999, making Overkill the first thrash metal band ever to release ten full-length studio albums (Other first wave thrash bands, such as Sodom or Kreator would not achieve this milestone until two years later). While once again quite different from the previous records and musically not considered "classic" Overkill, the album was vocally even more experimental than The Killing Kind, and was well received by fans and critics alike.[ citation needed ]

Before the release of Necroshine, Sebastian Marino left Overkill to spend more time with his family. He was replaced by Dave Linsk from the New Jersey hardcore/thrash metal band Anger On Anger. A two-week European trip in June was arranged to fill the gap between appearances at the Dynamo and With Full Force festivals.

September 1999 saw the release of Coverkill , an album consisting entirely of cover versions from bands that were especially influential to Overkill, such as Black Sabbath (featured three times), Kiss, Motörhead, Manowar, and The Ramones. Some of the tracks had been previously available on compilations or as bonus tracks, but others had been shelved for years (the earliest recording was from the Under the Influence sessions) or were recorded immediately prior to the album's release.[ citation needed ] A full European tour in support of both Necroshine and Coverkill took place in February 2000, as Overkill co-headlined with Canadian thrash metal band Annihilator, with the German band Dew-Scented in the opening slot.

During the European tour, Annihilator fired their lead singer Randy Rampage due to his disruptive behavior. A few months later, Joe Comeau was confirmed as his replacement, effectively ending his tenure with Overkill. The band returned to the studio, this time as a four-piece, and in the fall of 2000, released Bloodletting . Once again produced by the band, and mixed by Colin Richardson.

November of the same year saw the band again touring Europe as a special guest of Halford's "Resurrection" world tour. Since Overkill had not found a new rhythm guitarist yet, Comeau joined on a temporary basis for the tour. For the last couple of shows, the band also utilized another session musician. With D. D. Verni's wife about to give birth to their second child, Verni was to miss a week or two of shows and needed a fill-in. Derek Tailer of Dee Snider's band S.M.F was asked to do the job. In 2002, Tailer was announced as a permanent member of Overkill, although not on bass, but filling the vacant rhythm guitarist position.

Switching labels and drummers (2002–2008)

Overkill live at the Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles, 2005. Overkill live at the Whiskey.jpg
Overkill live at the Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles, 2005.

After taking a break, Overkill resurfaced in 2002 with Wrecking Everything , their second full-length live album, recorded at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The album contained only songs that had not been on Wrecking Your Neck, some simply because they were released on later albums, but also a few early songs from albums such as Taking Over and Under the Influence . The same show was used for Overkill's first ever DVD, Wrecking Everything – An Evening in Asbury Park, also released in 2002.

The European tour in June 2002, supporting both Bloodletting and Wrecking Everything saw Blaze and Wicked Mystic opening up for Overkill. During the second to last show of the tour in Nuremberg, Germany, Blitz suffered a stroke on stage and collapsed. For nearly three days, rumors ran rampant, reporting everything from Blitz being in a coma, permanently paralyzed, or even that Blitz had died. Finally, three days later, the band announced that the stroke was very minor and had no lasting consequences, as well as no cause that could be determined by the doctors.

Overkill signed to Spitfire Records and entered the studio in late 2002 to record their next studio album, Killbox 13 . Produced by the band and Colin Richardson and released in March 2003, the album was actually only their twelfth regular studio album, but the Overkill EP was also counted to achieve the number 13. The album received critical acclaim,[ citation needed ] combining the "new" Overkill with their raw early style as presented on the debut album Feel the Fire . Touring for the album included a number of European festivals during the summer, and a full European tour followed in November with Seven Witches and After All. The band played without Derek Tailer, who was absent for undisclosed reasons. Nobody was hired to fill in for him, so Overkill toured as a four-piece for the first time since 1990. Tailer was still considered a full member of the band.

In late 2004, after a Japanese tour with Death Angel and Flotsam and Jetsam, the band started work on another record in D. D. Verni's own recording studio. The album, ReliXIV , was produced and mixed by the band themselves and released in March 2005.

Overkill toured the eastern US in April 2005, and just before they went on a European tour in May, it was announced that Tim Mallare would not take part in this tour. Replacing him for the tour was former Hades drummer Ron Lipnicki. A few weeks later, the band announced that Mallare had left permanently and Lipnicki was his replacement. In the summer of 2005, Overkill organized their first US west coast tour in more than ten years, playing Western Canada to Southern California. The tour was such a success that the band was added to the 2006 Gigantour bill, as second stage headliners, marking Overkill's first nationwide US tour since 1994.

Now with the Bodog Music label, the band rejoined forces with Jonny and Marsha Zazula, previous owners of Megaforce Records, who are now part of the Bodog Team in the United States. Overkill released its 15th studio album, Immortalis , on October 9, 2007. The album featured the lineup of founders Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and D. D. Verni, guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer, and new drummer Ron Lipnicki. Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe contributed vocals on the song "Skull and Bones".

Return to popularity and departure of Lipnicki (2009–2017)

On October 30, 2009, it was reported that Overkill had inked a multi-album deal with Nuclear Blast Records. The band's 15th album, Ironbound —which is described as a true "thrashter-piece"—was released on February 9, 2010. [15] It was Overkill's first album to appear on the Billboard 200 chart since 1993's I Hear Black , peaking at number 192. [6] The band happened to be playing at Times Square in New York City on May 1, 2010, as part of their Ironbound tour when someone nearby attempted unsuccessfully to blow a car up using fireworks. The show proceeded without interruption, but some ticket holders arriving late were prevented from entering the theater by police responding to the incident.[ citation needed ]

In July 2011, Overkill began demoing six songs and were planning to begin recording their 16th album in October for an early 2012 release. [16] [17] The resulting album, The Electric Age , was released on March 27, 2012, [18] and it was the band's first album to enter the top 100 on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 77; this was also Overkill's highest-chart position at the time. [6] In 2013, the band embarked on The Dark Roots of Thrash tour of North America, headlined by labelmates Testament along with Flotsam and Jetsam, and 4Arm. However, they canceled their February 15 show in Huntington at The Paramount Theatre due to singer Bobby "Blitz" being diagnosed with "walking pneumonia". [19] On February 18, it was announced that Overkill was officially dropped out of the Dark Roots of Thrash tour as Blitz's condition had gotten slightly worse after the show in Worcester, Massachusetts. [20]

On August 31, 2013, Overkill entered Gear Recording on to begin recording their seventeenth studio album. [21] The album was going to be released on March 7, 2014. [22] On January 14, however, it was announced that the album was postponed to July. [23] [24] On March 15, it was revealed that the new album was going to be titled White Devil Armory . [25] After some delays, White Devil Armory was finally released on July 22, 2014. The album was their most successful; it peaked at #31 on the Billboard 200, making it Overkill's highest chart position so far. [6] [26]

On November 5, 2015, it was announced that Overkill would play a special show on April 16, 2016 in Oberhausen where they played the Feel the Fire and Horrorscope albums in their entirety. The show was professionally filmed and recorded for the DVD [27] Live in Overhausen, which was released on May 18, 2018. [28]

Overkill released a box set, titled Historikill: 1995–2007 , on October 16, 2015. [29] [30] [31] To support the box set, Overkill embarked on a North American tour with Symphony X in September–October 2015, [32] and a UK tour in April 2016. [33] In a September 2015 interview, Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth revealed that Overkill had begun writing their eighteenth studio album, [34] [35] [36] and by March 2016, they had "fully demoed" eleven songs for it. [37] Ellsworth said in a March 2016 interview that Overkill would begin recording the album in early May for an October release. [37] On April 16, 2017, the band announced that their drummer Ron Lipnicki would miss the European tour due to a family emergency, and that he would be replace by Eddy Garcia, [38] which was later confirmed to be a "personal issue" from Lipnicki. [39] On August 13, 2016, The Grinding Wheel was announced as the name of the album, and Ellsworth said that the band was "looking for a first-week-of-November release"; [40] however, the album's release date was pushed back to February 10, 2017. [41] The Grinding Wheel was another successful album for Overkill; it reached at number 69 on the Billboard 200, making it the band's second-highest chart position behind White Devil Armory. [6] To support the album, Overkill toured North America with Nile, [42] and supported former Sepultura members Max and Igor Cavalera in Europe on the Return to Roots tour. [43] They also headlined the 2017 edition of the Metal Alliance Tour, supported by Crowbar, Havok, Black Fast and Invidia. [44]

Jason Bittner-era (2017–present)

On May 4, 2017, Overkill announced that Jason Bittner (formerly of Shadows Fall and Flotsam and Jetsam) had replaced Lipnicki as the drummer of the band. [45]

On February 9, 2018, Overkill announced that they were in the studio working on demos for their nineteenth studio album. [46] Pre-production of the album began that April, [47] and Ellsworth announced that it would be released in February 2019. [48] On June 1, 2018, the band announced that they had begun recording the album. [49] During an interview with Eddie Trunk on Trunk Nation on October 10, 2018, bassist D. D. Verni announced that the album was finished; he was quoted as saying, "I just got the final sequencing and all that, so that's all buttoned up. We're working on the cover now. We still don't have a title — we're gonna have to come up with that soon — but we have a lot of things floating around. And the new release will probably be in February." [50] On November 28, 2018, Overkill announced that the album was titled The Wings of War and would be released on February 22, 2019. [51] [52] The band promoted the album by headlining the 2019 edition of the Killfest Tour, supported by Destruction, Flotsam and Jetsam and Meshiaak. [53] They also toured North America in the spring with Death Angel and Mothership, [54] [55] and will take part in Megadeth's first-ever MegaCruise, which will take place in the Pacific Ocean in October 2019. [56]

Overkill is expected to start writing new material for their 20th studio album by the beginning of 2020. [57]

Legacy and style

Though less popular than larger bands of the same genre, Overkill is one of the oldest thrash metal bands performing today. Despite the fact that their debut album was not released until 1985, Overkill's beginnings predate the formation of all of the "Big Four" of thrash metal bands (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer) by at least one year. [58] After the band's inception, as time passed and Overkill began creating more music alongside its quickly-growing competitors, it became known for its fast and heavy style. The band's music lacked enough variety to rival the names of the "Big Four", [59] but Overkill maintained its unique sound unwaveringly throughout its career instead of trying to gain popularity with a more commercial style. [60] Overkill has been viewed as one of the most important thrash bands from the East Coast. [61]

Along with Exodus and Testament, Overkill has been the subject of which thrash metal band should be included in an expanded "Big Four". Asked in September 2014 about the idea of either Overkill, Exodus or Testament being included in the "Big Five" of thrash metal, frontman Bobby Ellsworth replied, "Aw man, that's gonna put me in a corner! We measure our success in days, not dollars! But maybe you can find the answer in what I'm going to say. When [playing thrash metal] became harder in the '90s with grunge music, we never had a question about if we would stop doing it and go work for our moms and dads or something. We just needed to make it happen. We weren't going to let grunge stop us. And if it did, we'd just go back to the underground. I liked it there anyway!" [62] Commenting on the fact that Overkill never became part of the "Big Four", Ellsworth stated, "When it comes to being selected and not selected, that's a simple accounting issue. When you talk numbers, numbers make the world go around, numbers put food on your table, and numbers put the 'Big Four' in arenas. And they sell enough records to do that. For me, it's not a concern. To even be asked the question from you is quite a compliment with regard to, let's say, our longevity or tenacity doing what we like doing. But this is quite simply an accounting issue. He who sells the most gets the pole positions." [63]

Overkill's sound has influenced the genre of thrash metal. Their technique draws on bits and pieces of punk and hard rock as well as NWOBHM. These elements blend to create a fast, aggressive style unique to the band and make Overkill's sound easily recognizable to metal fans; [64] as a result, they have been referred to as "the Motörhead of thrash metal". [3] The band has been influenced by a variety of music, including heavy metal, hard rock and classic rock acts such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, The Who, Aerosmith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Queen, UFO, Jethro Tull, Motörhead, Saxon, Venom, Ted Nugent, Humble Pie, Rainbow, Manowar and Starz, as well as punk rock and glam rock acts such as the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Damned, the New York Dolls, Lou Reed, The Vibrators, Generation X and the Dead Boys. [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] Many of today's new-wave thrash bands have been influenced by older groups in the genre, including Mantic Ritual, who incorporate a variety of stylistic traits reminiscent of Overkill and other thrash bands that had found success in the past. [73] Overkill has also been cited as an influence on the groove metal genre; Dimebag Darrell was influenced by former guitarist Bobby Gustafson's performance on the albums Under the Influence and The Years of Decay , which ultimately led to Pantera changing their style from glam metal to thrash/groove metal as well as Terry Date producing Cowboys from Hell . [74] [75] [76] [77]


Current members

Touring members

Former members


Overkill (band)


Related Research Articles

<i>The Years of Decay</i> 1989 studio album by Overkill

The Years of Decay is the fourth studio album by thrash metal band Overkill, released on October 13, 1989 through Atlantic and Megaforce Records. It is the last Overkill album to feature guitarist Bobby Gustafson, who left the band amid a feud between himself and its founding members Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (vocalist) and D. D. Verni (bassist).

<i>Under the Influence</i> (Overkill album) 1988 studio album by Overkill

Under the Influence is the third studio album by thrash metal band Overkill, released on July 5, 1988 through Megaforce Records. This was Overkill's first album to feature drummer Sid Falck, who had replaced Rat Skates when the latter left the band in 1987 during the Taking Over tour.

<i>Horrorscope</i> (Overkill album) 1991 studio album by Overkill

Horrorscope is the fifth studio album by thrash metal band Overkill, released on September 3, 1991 through Atlantic and Megaforce Records. It was the first Overkill album to feature the duo of guitarists Merritt Gant and Rob Cannavino, and the last to be released through Megaforce; although they remained on Atlantic until 1995.

<i>I Hear Black</i> 1993 studio album by Overkill

I Hear Black is the sixth studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill, released on March 9, 1993 by Atlantic Records. It was the band's first to feature drummer Tim Mallare.

<i>W.F.O.</i> (album) 1994 studio album by Overkill

W.F.O. is the seventh full-length studio album by thrash metal band Overkill, released in July 15, 1994 on Atlantic Records. The album contains "hidden songs" on track 98 the songs start at 10:00, featuring the band warming up in the studio, playing "Heaven and Hell" by Black Sabbath, "The Ripper" by Judas Priest and "Voodoo Child " by Jimi Hendrix. The instrumental song "R.I.P. (Undone)" was written as a tribute to Criss Oliva, co-founder of the band Savatage, who died nine months before the release of the album.

<i>The Killing Kind</i> (album) 1996 studio album by Overkill

The Killing Kind is the eighth studio album released by thrash metal band Overkill in 1996. It was the first album to feature new guitarists Joe Comeau and Sebastian Marino.

<i>Necroshine</i> 1999 studio album by Overkill

Necroshine is the tenth studio album released by the thrash metal band Overkill in early 1999, on CMC International records.

<i>Wrecking Everything</i> 2002 live album by Overkill

Wrecking Everything is a 2002 live album by thrash metal band Overkill which is the counterpart to Wrecking Everything – An Evening in Asbury Park VHS/DVD. Recorded at The Paramount, Asbury Park, New Jersey on March 23, 2002. As of 2006, the album had sold over 5,300 copies and according to Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, the VHS/DVD has sold around 15,000–20,000 copies in the U.S.

<i>Killbox 13</i> 2003 studio album by Overkill

Killbox 13 is the twelveth studio album by thrash metal band Overkill in 2003. The name stems from the fact that the band considers this to be their thirteenth release because they include the Overkill EP as their first, or that they had released the covers album Coverkill, which would have been their eleventh studio album. "Well, it is the thirteenth, but it's only really the thirteenth for people who followed the band. There was an EP called Overkill back in '84...", said Bobby Ellsworth.

<i>ReliXIV</i> 2005 studio album by Overkill

ReliXIV is the thirteenth full-length studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill, released in spring 2005. The reason the Roman numeral 14 is included in the title is because the band includes the Overkill EP in their lineup of studio albums, which would make this album the 14th by their chronology. It can also be because Overkill released the covers album Coverkill, which would have been their eleventh studio album. While this diction left it unclear how the title was to be pronounced, Blitz just mentioned it as "Relics" when announcing songs from the album on stage. The album produced the popular "Old School", which has been played at every Overkill show since it was first released. As of late 2007, ReliXIV sold over 16,000 copies in the U.S.

<i>Overkill</i> (EP) 1985 EP by Overkill

Overkill is the first EP recorded by thrash metal band Overkill released in 1985 on Azra/Metal Storm records. It is also considered by the band as their "first album", making their debut Feel the Fire their second record and so forth. The EP is included on the !!!Fuck You!!! And Then Some compilation.

<i>Immortalis</i> (album) 2007 studio album by Overkill

Immortalis is the fourteenth studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill. It was released in 2007 on Bodog Records. It is a pun of "Immortal15", and was preceded by Killbox 13 and ReliXIV. The album sold over 2,800 copies in its first week of release in the U.S and as of 2009, Immortalis sold over 15,000 copies in the U.S. This was also the first Overkill studio album to include drummer Ron Lipnicki, who joined the band shortly after the release of its predecessor ReliXIV (2005).

<i>Ironbound</i> (album) 2010 studio album by Overkill

Ironbound is the 15th full-length studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill, which was released on January 29, 2010 in Europe on Nuclear Blast and in the U.S. on February 9, 2010 on eOne Music. It was their first studio album in more than two years since the release of Immortalis in the fall of 2007, and their first release on their current labels Nuclear Blast and eOne Music.

Bobby Gustafson American musician

Robert Wayne Gustafson is an American guitarist, best known as a member of the New Jersey-based thrash metal band Overkill from 1982 to his split with the band in 1990.

<i>The Electric Age</i> 2012 studio album by Overkill

The Electric Age is the sixteenth studio album by the American thrash metal band Overkill, which was released on March 27, 2012 in the U.S. on eOne Music and in Europe three days later on Nuclear Blast.

<i>White Devil Armory</i> 2014 studio album by Overkill

White Devil Armory is the seventeenth studio album by the American thrash metal band Overkill. It was released on July 18, 2014 in Europe through Nuclear Blast and July 22 in North America through eOne Music.

<i>The Grinding Wheel</i> 2017 studio album by Overkill

The Grinding Wheel is the eighteenth studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill, released on February 10, 2017. It is the last Overkill album with drummer Ron Lipnicki, who left the band shortly after its release and was replaced by Jason Bittner for the album's tour and its follow-up The Wings of War (2019).

<i>The Wings of War</i> 2019 studio album by Overkill

The Wings of War is the 19th studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill, released on February 22, 2019. It is the band's first album to feature drummer Jason Bittner, making it their first one without Ron Lipnicki since ReliXIV (2005), as he left Overkill shortly after the release of its predecessor The Grinding Wheel (2017).


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