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The 5 Essential OVERKILL Albums

These East Coast legends of thrash have been knocking out quality albums for 4 decades and with 20(!) studio albums to choose from we had a hard time whittling ’em down to, what we believe to be, Overkill‘s 5 essential albums….

Up the irons!

5. Ironbound (2010)

Ironbound: OVERKILL: Amazon.ca: Music

While they’d never really been away, 2010’s Ironbound felt like Overkill‘s rebirth and appeared to re-ignite a flame that’s still burning bright 13 years later! 

Instantly making amends for the relatively disappointing Immortalis (2007), Ironbound focused 100% on thrashing hard and fast and, in Overkill‘s own inimitable way, they released a monster of an early 00’s thrash album. 

Clinically effective and stripped to the bone, Overkill were evidently hungrier than ever and opening with the obscene quality of “The Green And Black” and Ironbound‘s title track immediately announced that Bobby, D.D and the boys weren’t fucking around; they were gonna shit all over Metallica‘s Death Magnetic (2008) and Slayer‘s World Painted Blood (2009) and they were gonna have fun doing it. 

A certifiable shit-kicker of a record, Overkill had no right sounding this damn good 30 years into their career. 

A fuckin’ hostile takeover! 

4. Taking Over (1987)

Overkill - Taking Over - Amazon.com Music

On just their second album, Overkill barely put a foot wrong – with Taking Over proving to be one of the most consistent albums of their illustrious career.

Ably balancing the power/thrash of “Powersurge” with the full-throttle attack of “Fatal If Swallowed” provided ample variety and there’s simply no duffers to be found on this trailblazing record. Not a one! 

Very much a product of its time, Taking Over‘s approach may sound almost antiquated to modern ears but the likes of “Deny The Cross” and “Wrecking Crew” was the shit back in ’87! So, wind back the clock and embrace an album that holds up remarkably well, despite its obvious mid to late 80s trappings. 

Overkilll were gonna walk all over you, because they were….THE WRECKING CREW!! 

Hot stuff….

3. Feel The Fire (1985)

Overkill – Feel The Fire (1985, Vinyl) - Discogs

Overkill‘s full length debut was an instantly satisfying fix for those thrash fans looking for an East-Coast band to rival the Bay Area’s dominance.

Feel The Fire is an absolute classic from a band who have spent the best part of 40 years defiantly thrashing their guts out for the metal masses… and “Rotten To The Core”, “Hammerhead” and “Kill At Command” still thrill with wild abandonment and earth-shaking riffs, buffered by Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s instantly recognisable vocals. 

If Overkill had only released this one record they would still be revered as thrash pioneers… as it turns out we have a further 19 records to relish alongside it! 

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The stars were aligned…..

2. Horrorscope (1991)

Overkill – Horrorscope (1991, CD) - Discogs

In the early 90’s Overkill were already one of the most prolific bands in thrash and they reached their commercial peak with Horrorscope, an album that fully harnessed the ever-maturing skill and dexterity merely hinted at in the past.

Following Bobby Gustafson’s departure, Overkill bolstered their line-up with the addition of two new guitarists in the shape of Rob Cannavino (who had been Gustafson’s guitar technician) and Merritt Gant (previously from thrash metal band Faith or Fear), both of whom stepped up to the challenge of filling Gustafson’s huge shoes.  

There’s no doubting the sheer quality of the song writing found on 1991’s Horroscope and Overkill were clearly thinking big with this release. Ably balancing the unbridled aggression found on their early releases with just the right amount of experimentation, Horrorscope found the boys harnessing everything from acoustic intros (“Coma”), blinding speed (“Infectious”), thrash ballads (“Solitude”) and mid-tempo stomp (“New Machine”), and they were more than capable of matching (if not beating) the mainstream-baiting likes of Metallica’s The Black Album and Death Angel’s Act III.   

Horrorscope remains an outstanding and enduring effort with quality stamped all over it; an early 90’s masterpiece and no mistake! 

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The golden years….

1. The Years Of Decay (1989)

Overkill – The Years Of Decay (CD) - Discogs

Overkill‘s last album of the 80’s – and the last Overkill album to feature guitarist Bobby Gustafson (he would be missed) – has gone down in thrash history as an all-time classic and with the likes of “Time to Kill’, “Elimination” and “Birth Of Tension” in its arsenal, it’s not hard to see why!

With technical prowess and raw energy colliding head-long, Overkill were arguably at their peak on The Years Of Decay, with “the Motörhead of thrash metal” fully realising their punk meets speed metal sound via 9 exceptional tracks that oozed supreme confidence and stunning variety.

Unique and compelling, this was East Coast thrash at its finest…..delivered by a band whose unbelievable longevity can be attributed to releasing classics such as this.

Overkill’s best? You’d better believe it! 

Overkill discography:

Feel The Fire (1985) / Taking Over (1987) / Under The Influence (1988) / The Years Of Decay (1989) / Horoscope (1991) / I Hear Black (1993) / W.F.O. (1994) / The Killing Kind (1996) / From the Underground and Below (1997) / Necroshine (1999) / Bloodletting (2000) / Killbox 13 (2003) / ReliXIV (2005) / Immortalis (2007) / Ironbound (2010) / The Electric Age (2012) / White Devil Armory (2014) / The Grinding Wheel (2017) / The Wings Of War (2019) / Scorched (2023)

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About Chris Jennings (1986 Articles)
I love metal. Always have. Always will. As editor of Worship Metal - a site dedicated to being as positive about metal and its myriad of sub-genres as possible - my aim is to 'worship' metal through honest reviews, current news and a wide variety of features; offering the same exposure to underground bands as we do to mainstream/well known acts. Our mantra; the bands are partners and we exist to serve the bands \m/

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