OVERKILL: METAL TO THE CORE

     WHEN THE BAND OVERKILL IS MENTIONED, MANY PEOPLE DO NOT RECOGNIZE THE BAND OR ANY OF THEIR MATERIAL.  THIS IS A DAMN SHAME BECAUSE OVERKILL IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EAST COAST METAL BANDS BEHIND ANTHRAX.  OVERKILL IS A LOCAL THRASH BAND THAT ORIGINATED IN OLD BRIDGE NEW JERSEY IN 1980.  OVERKILL CAME ABOUT AFTER THE PUNK BAND “THE LUBRICANTS” BROKE UP…AND D.D.VERNI AND RAT SKATES PUT AN ADD OUT LOOKING FOR A NEW LEAD VOCALIST.  THEY QUICKLY RECEIVED INTEREST FROM A SINGER NAMED BOBBY ELLSWORTH.  THE EARLY VERSION OF OVERKILL CONSISTED OF MOSTLY COVER SONGS.  THEY COVERED BANDS LIKE MOTORHEAD AND JUDAS PRIEST, WHILE ALSO PLAYING PUNK STYLE MUSIC WITH ADDED DISTORTION AND SPEED.

     IN 1981, THE BAND RECRUITED GUITARISTS RICH CONTE AND BOBBY GUSTAFSON.  THEN RICH CONTE LEFT THE BAND AND OVERKILL WENT FORWARD WITH JUST ONE GUITARIST.  OVERKILL PLAYED NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY CLUBS…THE STAR LAND BALLROOM AND L’AMOURS TO NAME A FEW.  AT THIS POINT, BOBBY WAS GIVEN THE NICKNAME “BLITZ” DUE TO HIS OUT OF CONTROL LIFESTYLE.  IN 1984, THE BAND RELEASED A FOUR TRACK SELF-TITLED DEMO.  “OVERKILL” GAINED INSTANT CLOUT AND THE UNDERGROUND METAL COMMUNITY WAS ALL OVER THIS BAND.  AT THIS POINT, OVERKILL CAUGHT THE EYE OF JOHNNY ZAZULA, WHO ALSO PRODUCED METALLICA AND TESTAMENT AS WELL AS MEGADETH AFTER DAVE MUSTAINE LEFT METALLICA.  ZAZULA’S MEGAFORCE RECORDS SIGNED OVERKILL TO A MULTI-ALBUM RECORD DEAL.  IN 1985, OVERKILL RELEASED THEIR FIRST FULL LENGTH STUDIO ALBUM “FEEL THE FIRE.”  THE ALBUM WAS HAILED AS A METAL MASTERPIECE BY MUSIC CRITICS AND THRASH FANS ALIKE.  OVERKILL SPENT 1985-1986 AS THE OPENING ACT FOR MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, AND AGENT STEEL.  

     IN 1987, OVERKILL RELEASED ALBUM #2 “TAKING OVER.”  THIS ALBUM HAD MUCH BETTER SOUND AND PRODUCTION.  AT THIS POINT THE BAND WENT ON A EUROPEAN TOUR OPENING FOR HELLOWEEN.  THROUGH 1989, OVERKILL REMAINED ON CONSTANT TOUR MAKING THEM ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT LIVE METAL BANDS IN THRASH.  THEN IN 1989, THE BAND RELEASED “THE YEARS OF DECAY”, AND THE ALBUM WAS PRODUCED BY TERRY DATE WHO ALSO PRODUCED WHITE ZOMBIE, PANTERA, AND SOUNDGARDEN.  THE SONG “ELIMINATION” BECAME A REGULAR VIDEO ON HEADBANGERS BALL.  IN 1991, OVERKILL RELEASED “HORROSCOPE”, ITS FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM.  THIS WAS A DEFINING MOMENT FOR THE BAND AS THE ALBUM WAS MUCH HEAVIER AND DARK THAN PRIOR ALBUMS.  THEN THE BAND THROUGH FANS THROUGH ANOTHER LOOP WHEN THEY RELEASED “I HEAR BLACK” IN 1993.  THIS ALBUM WAS INFLUENCED BY BLACK SABBATH AND HAD A BLUES ROCK TONE.  

     IN 1998, ELLSWORTH WAS DIAGNOSED WITH NASAL CANCER AND HAD IMMEDIATE SURGERY.  IN FEBRUARY 1999, THE BAND RELEASED ITS TENTH STUDIO ALBUM “NECROSHINE”, MAKING THEM THE FIRST THRASH METAL BAND TO PRODUCE TEN ALBUMS.  THEY ALSO RELEASED “COVERKILL” THE SAME YEAR WHICH FEATURED COVERS OF BANDS LIKE KISS, MOTORHEAD, BLACK SABBATH, AND THE RAMONES.  THE NEXT FEW YEARS SAW TURMOIL WITHIN THE BAND AND BROUGHT ON A FEW LINEUP CHANGES.  BOBBY ELLSWORTH EVEN SUFFERED A STROKE ON STAGE DURING ONE TOUR.  IN 2010, OVERKILL RELEASED “IRONBOUND”, WHICH ACTUALLY REFERS TO THE NEWARK AREA WHERE THE BAND ORIGINATED. IRONBOUND WAS ALSO HAILED AS A TRUE METAL CLASSIC.

     THE ONE CONSTANT WITH OVERKILL IS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN HEAVY SINCE DAY ONE AND THEY NEVER WENT MAINSTREAM LIKE MOST OTHER METAL BANDS SUCH AS THE BIG FOUR.  IN 2012, THEY RELEASED “THE ELECTRIC AGE”, ANOTHER FULL SPEED ONSLAUGHT OF THRASH METAL.  AFTER THE RELEASE, THEY JOINED A TOUR WITH TESTAMENT ON THE “DARK ROOTS OF EARTH” TOUR.  BOBBY ELLSWORTH ONCE AGAIN HAD HEALTH PROBLEMS AND THE BAND HAD TO DROP OFF OF THE TOUR.  THE BAND IS CURRENTLY DOING A MINI TOUR WITH ANTHRAX AND TESTAMENT WHICH WILL CULMINATE IN SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA, WHICH WILL ALSO FEATURE MEGADETH, LAMB OF GOD, DARK ANGEL, AND IRON MAIDEN.  THE BAND IS ALSO READY TO ENTER THE STUDIO TO WORK ON IT’S SEVENTEENTH STUDIO ALBUM.  OVERKILL IN MY OPINION IS EXTREMELY UNDERRATED.  ANY TRUE METAL FAN SHOULD DABBLE IN THEIR CATALOG.  MY PERSONAL FAVORITES ARE HORROSCOPE, ELECTRIC AGE, AND IRONBOUND.  OVERKILL HAS NEVER “SOLD OUT’ AND HAS BEEN BANGING OUT TRUE THRASH METAL SINCE 1980.  THIS IS PRETTY IMPRESSIVE CONSIDERING THEY ARE NOT FEATURED IN THE MAINSTREAM METAL COMMUNITY LIKE METALLICA, MEGADETH, AND ANTHRAX.  EVEN TESTAMENT HAS MORE OF A MAINSTREAM FOLLOWING THAN OVERKILL.  

     IF THERE WAS A BIG SIX, IT WOULD BE METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER, ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT, AND OVERKILL.  THE FUNNY THING IS THAT THE FIVE BANDS ARE WELL KNOWN WHILE OVERKILL IS BARELY ON THE MAP.  HOWEVER, THIS IS ALL OF THE MORE REASON WHY THIS BAND SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE TRUE THRASH GREATS.  ELLSWORTH HAS A DISTINCT VOICE THAT RIVALS OTHER METAL SINGERS LIKE ROB HALFORD AND BRUCE DICKINSON.  OVERKILL IS AN AWESOME BAND AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND ANY TRUE METAL FAN TO DIVE IN AND PURCHASE A LOT OF THEIR MATERIAL.  THEIR EARLY MATERIAL IS EXTREMELY HEAVY AND THEY ARE DEFINITELY INFLUENCED BY THE OTHER EAST COAST METAL BANDS AND WEST COAST THRASH MOVEMENT.  OVERKILL ALSO SHARES A PROMINENT MASCOT, A FLYING BAT WITH SKELETON FACE, HORNS, WINGS AND GREEN EYES.  OVERKILL IS A MUST HAVE FOR ANY TRUE THRASH FAN.  GO GET EM!ImageImageImage

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