Overkill is an American Thrash metal band formed in 1980 in New Jersey City. Their original line-up consisted of Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth on vocals, Bobby Gustafson on guitar, D.D. Verni on bass and Rat Skates on drums, and after many changes over the years, Bobby Blitz and Verni have remained as founders and main songwriters.
The band also has an iconic mascot (Charly), a skeletal bat with a skull face, bone wings and green eyes, which constantly appears on the band’s albums. A contemporary of Exodus, Testament, Voivod, Sacred Reich and Death Angel, Overkill was known mainly for its technique and high speed. It is today one of the few bands that still keeps the pure and cadenced thrash metal with the essence of the bands from the 1980s.

With over thirty years of career, they have released 17 studio albums, 3 EPs, three live albums and a covers album. The group’s main albums are Feel the Fire (1985), The Years of Decay (1989), Horrorscope (1991), Ironbound (2010) and The Electric Age (2012), highly praised by the public and critics. By 2012, Overkill had sold over 16 million albums worldwide.

Emergence: 1980s
Overkill was born in New York City (USA) in 1980, shortly after the explosion of heavy metal and Thrash metal from San Francisco’s Bay Area. After several guitarist changes, the band’s lineup stabilized in 1982 with Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth on vocals, Bobby Gustafson on guitar, D. D. Verni on bass and Rat Skates on drums. Originally, the group’s name was Virgin Killer, but they quickly changed it to “Overkill”, inspired by the Motörhead song.

Before releasing the first album, the band had already recorded the demos Power In Black (1983) and Rotten To The Core (1984) and participated with the song “Death Rider” in the compilation Metal Massacre 5 (1984), produced by Metal Blade Records. The following year, the band’s first album, Feel the Fire, produced by Alex Perialas and Jon Zazula, was released by Megaforce Records.

D. D. Verni
Atlantic Records partners with Megaforce and invests more in the band in general. The recordings improve on Taking Over, Overkill’s second album, which came out in 1987. To promote the album, the band goes on tour. From it, four live tracks are recorded: “Rotten to the Core”, “HammerHead”, “Electro-Violence”, and “Use Your Head”, plus the unreleased “Fuck You”, recorded at the Phantasy Theatre (Cleveland), in June, go to the Fuck You EP. The cover was a picture of a raised middle finger and generated a lot of controversy until it was censored and the record company forced to release it with a matte plastic package. As with all Overkill’s work, the joke is the song “You Are My Sunshine” played in the middle of “Rotten To The Core”. Also in 1987, Atlantic Records released Power Chords, Vol. 1, a compilation in which Overkill participates with the song “Wrecking Crew”. Among other bands, Anthrax took part with “N.F.L.”, Testament with “Apocalyptic City”, Savatage with “Hall of the Mountain King”, and Manowar with “Black Wind, Fire and Steel”.

At the end of the Taking Over tour, drummer Rat Skates leaves the band, and Sid Falck takes his place. In 1988, Under the Influence was released, which sold over 300,000 copies worldwide and brought classics such as “Never Say Never” and “Hello from the Gutter”; the latter was given a music video which, with its constant airing on American TV, brought the band greater popularity. The cover photos are by Frank White and Dan Muro.

The Years of Decay is released the following year, 1989. Highlights include the tracks “Skullkrusher”, the title track, and the absolute classic “Elimination”, present in set lists to this day. The track “E.Vil N.Ever D.Ies” marks the end of the sequence that originated with the song “Overkill” from Feel the Fire, “Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues)” from Taking Over and “Overkill III (Under the Influence)” from Under The Influence. In addition, it is clear that the phase is more focused on occultism in the lyrics and dragged weight ends. At this time, guitarist Bobby Gustafson leaves the band, and Merritt Gant and Rob Cannavino, who had been Armored Saint and Overkill’s roadie for a long time, are recruited to replace him.

The 90’s
In 1991, the band recorded one of the best albums of their career, “Horrorscope”. It became one of thrash metal’s classics with better arrangements and a more elaborate sound. The curiosity here is the cover of “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter. The band starts to be better known outside the USA, but drummer Sid Falck has a car accident and has to leave the band. Tim Mallere (ex-M.O.D.) fills his place.

After some time for the band to tour and adapt to the new drummer, “I Hear Black” was released in 1993 with new producer Alex Perialas, who is credited with taking some of the cadence and energy from the band on the album. The photographs are by Amy Guip, and the cover design is by Larry Freemantle.

Dave Linsk
In 1994 the band decided to return to the feeling of the older sound and produced, for the first time alone, the album “W.F.O.” (Wide Fucking Open). The work differs from the previous ones, bringing some clear changes, such as the bass, which is more evident.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the band, “Wrecking Your Neck” was released in October 1995 by CMC Records. The album was recorded live at a Cleveland concert, and the cover photos are by Andreas Schowe.

Another live album came out in October 1996. “!!!Fuck You!!! And Then Some” features a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Hole in the Sky” and has a cover design signed by Peter Tsakiris. The band is again shaken in its line-up when Merritt Gant leaves the band to get married, and Rob Cannavino decides to dedicate himself to professional motorcycle racing. Joe Comeau and Sebastian Marino replace the guitarists.

With a new line-up, the band itself produced the following album. “The Killing Kind” was released in 1996 and is considered one of the best-produced albums they have ever had.

The year 1997 is marked for Overkill with a lot of work. Besides the tour, they also participated in the “Tribute To Judas Priest: Legends Of Metal” with the song “Tyrant”, and in September of the same year, the album “From the Underground and Below” was released.

The next studio album, “Necroshine”, was released in February 1999, and soon after, in October, it was time for “Coverkill”, an album of covers only, very curious about the diversity of styles. Among the covers are “Hole in the Sky”, “Cornucopia”, and “Never Say Die” by Black Sabbath, “Space Truckin” by Deep Purple, “Deuce” by Kiss, “Tyrant” by Judas Priest, “Death Tone” by Manowar, “Hymn 43” by Jethro Tull, “Ain’t Nothin’ To Do” by the Dead Boys, “No Feelings” by the Sex Pistols, “I’m Against It” by the Ramones and, of course, “Overkill” by Motörhead.

The 2000s
Again, there are problems with the guitar players, and Sebastian Marino and Joe Comeau leave the band, being replaced by Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer. With this line-up and still active today, the band released the album “Bloodletting” in October 2000 by Metal-Is Records. The cover design is by Travis Smith.

Bobby Ellsworth
In November of the same year, the band begins a European tour as a special guest of Halford’s “Resurrection” world tour. Since then, Overkill has not found a new second guitarist. However, Joe Comeau temporarily joins the tour as D.D. Verni’s wife was about to give birth to their second child; he was temporarily replaced by Derek “The Skull” Tailer from Dee Snider’s band SMF. In early 2001, Derek Tailer was announced as a permanent member of Overkill, not on bass, but in the vacant spot on guitar. After a break, Overkill resurfaced in 2002 with “Wrecking Everything,” their second live album, recorded at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The album contained only songs not released on Wrecking Your Neck. The same occasion was used to record a DVD for the first time, “Wrecking Everything – An Evening In Asbury Park”, also released in 2002.

On the European tour in June 2002, during the last tour show in Nuremberg, Germany, Bobby Ellsworth suffered a stroke on stage and collapsed. For about four days, rumours ran rampant, reporting that Blitz was in a coma, permanently paralyzed, or even that Blitz had died. Finally, three days later, the band announced that the thing had no lasting consequences, as well as no cause that doctors could determine.

Overkill entered the studio in late 2002 to record their next album, “Killbox 13”. Produced by the band and Colin Richardson and released in March 2003. The album was critically acclaimed. That combines the then Overkill with their old raw style as presented on their debut album “Feel The Fire”. For distribution, the album included a series of European festivals during the summer and a European tour followed in November with Seven Witches. The band played without Derek Tailer, who was absent for undisclosed reasons. No one was hired to fill in for him, so Overkill toured as a quartet 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, Flotsam, and Jetsam, the band began working on another album in their recording studio. The album, “ReliXIV”, was produced and mixed by the band and released in March 2005.

Derek Tailer
In May 2005, it was announced that Tim Mallare would not participate in this tour. To replace him, former drummer Ron Lipnicki Hades was called in. A few weeks later, the band announced that Tim Mallare had left the band permanently and Lipnicki his replacement. After a US tour, the band was added to the 2006 Gigantour.

Now, with the Bodog Music label, the band begins to join forces with Jonny and Zazula Marsha, the previous owners of Megaforce Records, who are now part of the Bodog team in the US. Overkill released their 15th album, “Immortalis”, on October 9, 2007, featuring Lamb Of God vocalist Randy Blythe on the song “Skull and Bones.”

On October 30, 2009, it was revealed that Overkill had signed a contract with Nuclear Blast Records. The following album, “Ironbound”, is described as a true work of thrash metal, the release of which took place on January 29, 2010. During the 2010 tour, they passed through some Brazilian cities.

In 2012, they released their 16th studio album entitled The Electric Age, maintaining the same level as the previous CD. They passed through Brazil again in the middle of the year to promote the album.

In July 2014, they released their 17th studio album, White Devil Armory, with the same lineup as the previous album. The album reached #31 on the Billboard 200, marking the band’s best position on the US chart. In the first week, 8,400 copies[were sold in the United States, surpassing the sales of the last two albums. The band then embarks on a tour of North America and Europe through the end of the year.

Feel the Fire
Released: April 15, 1985

Taking Over
Released: September 1, 1987

Under the Influence
Released: July 5, 1988

The Years of Decay
Released: October 13, 1989

Released: September 3, 1991

I Hear Black
Released: March 9, 1993

Released: July 15, 1994

The Killing Kind
Released: March 5, 1996

From the Underground and Below
Released: September 30, 1997

Released: February 23, 1999

Released: October 24, 2000

Killbox 13
Released: March 25, 2003

Released: March 22, 2005

Released: October 9, 2007

Released: February 9, 2010

The Electric Age
Released: March 27, 2012

White Devil Armory
Released: July 22, 2014

The Grinding Wheel

The Wings of War
Released: February 22, 2019

Released: April 14, 2023