|Although everybody seems to have a different account of who came first in the world of New York/New Jersey area thrash metal, it seems certain that New Jersey's Overkill have stayed around the longest, and have never let their fans down by remaining musically consistent and true to their roots for over 20 years and an unprecedented 14 full-length albums. Through much hard work and a slew of infamous live performances at New York area clubs like L'Amours, Overkill established a reputation as a blue-collar, working man's metal band. After the band released a self-financed EP in 1984, Overkill broke onto the scene in 1985 with Feel the Fire, a crushing thrash assault on Megaforce Records, the label to beat when it came to 80's thrash. The self-proclaimed "Wrecking Crew" - originally consisting of vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, bassist D.D. Verni, guitarist Bobby Gustafson, and drummer Rat Skates - were on a tear, borrowing heavily from punk rock roots while adding a venomous metal crunch that allowed them to compete favorably with peers like Testament, Anthrax, and Megadeth.
By 1987's Taking Over, the band had worked their way up to a deal with Atlantic Records. This relationship would last another 7 years based on the strength and consistency of Overkill's music.
1988's Under the Influence and 1989's The Years of Decay represent Overkill in their prime. Sid Falck would replace Rat Skates on drums to bring his own brutal percussive assault to Verni's already powerful rhythm section. The band had already established a rabid fan base with songs like "Rotten to the Core" and "Hammerhead") as well as their infamous cover of D.O.A.'s "Fuck You"), and new songs like "Evil Never Dies" and "Hello from the Gutter" would become Overkill mainstays as well. A video for "Hello from the Gutter" was garnering much fan response when it received play on MTV's "Headbangers Ball."
1991's Horrorscope would bring great changes for Overkill. Gustafson left the band to pursue other interests. In his place, the band recruited two guitarists, Rob Cannevino and Merritt Gant (ex-Faith or Fear), making them a 5-piece engine of destruction. Rather than letting Gustafson's exit and the resulting backlash from fans bring them down, Overkill shifted into an even higher, more brutal gear.
1993's I Hear Black saw the departure of Sid Falck and the arrival of Tim Mallare, who would continue on with the band for over 10 years and still calls Overkill home today. 1994's W.F.O. would be Overkill's final album with Atlantic, as they would release their first official full-length live assault, Wrecking Your Neck, on CMC in 1995.
1996-1999 would see Overkill release 3 more full-length albums (Killing Kind, From the Underground and Below, and Necroshine) as well as a collection of live tracks and fan favorites (Fuck You! And Then Some) and an album of cover tunes (Coverkill) with the addition of Joe Comeau (ex-Liege Lord) and Sebastian Marino (ex-Anvil) on guitars.
In 2000, Overkill released Bloodletting on Metal-Is, adding guitarist Dave Linsk to the fray. The current Overkill lineup would be completed with the release of the live album Wrecking Everything and the addition of second guitarist Derek Tailer in 2002.
Finally, Overkill would release one of their most well-received albums to date, Killbox13, on Spitfire Records in 2003. As fans rabidly await the imminent release of their latest contribution on Spitfire, ReliXIV, it seems obvious that Overkill are, and always have been, a band that knows who their fans are, knows what true metal fans expect, and will settle for nothing but the best from themselves. An entirely self-produced album ReliXIV is a continuation of the Overkill legacy. As Blitz himself says: "This album is about performance versus process... The music on this record is a blend of our progression and our roots, where we're headed and where we've been. We're the real deal. We have a common ground with our fans, and this album is about what we know and feel."
Official biography: http://www.wreckingcrew.com