Thrash Metal is known for carnage - and rightly so. During Overkill's lengthy existence numerous guitarists and drummers have come and gone (see above) with only vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni going the distance. Though the New Jersey group began in '80, as a Punk covers band, their break-through came on their fourth album, '89's "The Years Of Decay," which ironically turned out to be the last album with guitarist Bobby Gustafson's. He and Verni clashed over the group's direction. Ellsworth sided with Verni and Gustafson got the boot. More than a few wondered whether Overkill would survive the loss of their primary songwriter - to say nothing of Gustafson's guitar work.
Oddly though, during a couple of times in their career, Overkill seemed to benefit from personnel changes. Rob Cannavino, who had been Gustafson's guitar technician, and Merritt Gant, a veteran of the Jersey thrash scene, were added for what many saw as the group's crowning achievement, their fifth album, "Horrorscope." But band member turnover was still evident. The '91 set was the last for drummer Sid Falck.
Jumping to '95, Cannavino left to race motorcycles and Gant focused on his family. So Overkill landed Joe Comeau, a one-time lead singer turned guitarist. He brought along his former Anvil bandmate, guitarist Sebastian Marino. The '96 album "The Killing Kind," with backing vocals by Comeau, was another highpoint. But Comeau eventually left to front Annihilator and Marino departed following '99's "Necroshine" to spend more time at home. Hey guys, you are Rock musicians, what's with the family ties?
Despite the departures, or maybe because of them, and the occasional shift in musical direction, Overkill issued their fifteenth full-length studio album, "Ironbound," in '10. The group, once signed to Atlantic Records, had this one released on Nuclear Blast Records, as part of a multi-album deal.
1985 Feel The Fire
1987 Taking Over
1988 Under The Influence
1989 The Years of Decay
1993 I Hear Black
1996 The Killing Kind
1997 From The Underground And Below
2003 Killbox 13
It would be tempting to dismiss Overkill as some East Coast Iron Maiden wannabes. Just as Maiden has their mascot "Eddie," Overkill features "Chaly," a skeletal bat with a skull-like face, bony wings, and green eyes who appears on most of their album covers. But Overkill has their own unique twists.
"The Years Of Decay" and "Horroscope" are the group's best work. The former has the blasting "Time To Kill," "Elimination" and "Playing With Spiders/Skullrusher." There's also some furious fretwork on "Nothing To Die For." The latter features "Blood Money," one of Overkill's premier tracks, "Infectious" and a cover of the Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein." This version rips the original. "The Killing Kind" with "Battle" "Cold, Hard Fact" and "Bold Face Pagan Stomp" is just a notch below.
"Ironbound" is not top drawer Overkill - the Prog Rock excursions dissipate the power. But they do nail it on the title track, "Bring Me The Night, "In Vain" and "Killing For A Living."