Best Overkill Albums

Though never included among the “Big Four” of thrash metal, New Jersey’s Overkill almost certainly find themselves leading many fans’ second bracket for the genre, having led the charge for neck-wrecking speed metal for over twenty years.

Standing strong alongside their contemporaries in Exodus and Testament, Overkill have delivered consistent slabs of thrash metal mastery over the years, with their discography serving as a veritable alpha and omega for those who seek intense guitar riffs and shrieking vocals. This top five list signifies the best of the best from Overkill’s near-spotless track record.

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'Horrorscope' (1991)

Overkill - Horrorscope
Overkill - Horrorscope.

Standing as Overkill’s piece de resistance, this thrash platter has it all, and remains astonishing heavy, even when compared to modern standards. The riffing of guitarists Merrit Gant and Rob Cannavino possesses the crunch most bands dream about, while the rhythm section of bassist/co-founder D.D. Verni and drummer Sid Falck (who replaced another co-founder, Rat Skates, behind the kit) smashes, bashes and cements the album’s crushing low end with ease.

Meanwhile, frontman and founder Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth serves as the band’s inimitably intense screamer, leading the charge for pure, unadulterated thrash metal mayhem.

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'The Years Of Decay' (1989)

Overkill - The Years Of Decay
Overkill - The Years Of Decay.

The Years Of Decay signifies the end of an era for Overkill, specifically the band’s last outing with guitarist/songwriter Bobby Gustafson, who would go on to form industrial metal act Skrew in the early '90s. Though Overkill would turn to a dual-guitar lineup on this album’s follow-up, Horrorscope, the axe-work of Gustafson here on The Years of Decay would prove to be a hard act to follow.

The album’s triple-threat opener of “Time to Kill,” “Elimination” and “I Hate” is blood-boiling, while Overkill’s more Sabbathian urges are clearly and forcefully displayed on “Nothing To Die For.” Add to this the anthemic, closing savagery of “E.vil N.ever D.ies” and you have a thrash record whose impact is lasting and forceful to this very day.

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'Ironbound' (2010)

Overkill - 'Ironbound'
Overkill - 'Ironbound'. eOne Music

Ironbound is proof that Overkill are very much alive, well and adept at standing their killing ground with just as much fury and invention as their younger peers. While many of their contemporaries are content to either attempt a young man’s game (via failed experimentation) or concoct desperate ploys for regaining their past glories (through half-cocked ‘comeback’ releases), Overkill take the high road here on Ironbound by simply writing GREAT metal songs which last the test of time.

Tracks like “Bring Me the Night” and “The Green and Black” serve as not only stellar songs for Overkill in the 2010s…they stand as some of the band’s best material in years, and proof that it is indeed possible for old dogs to be just as vicious as young pups.

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'W.F.O.' (1994)

Overkill - W.F.O.
Overkill - W.F.O.

While this album may not belong to what many fans refer to as Overkill’s “classic period,” the unbridled energy and attack displayed on W.F.O. remains practically electric to this day. With many metal bands of the day turning towards either power-groove or nu-metal for salvation, Overkill (as always) stuck to their creative guns, and proved that thrash metal could indeed survive in the very un-heavy climate of the 1990s.

“Fast Junkie” remains a rocket-shot live staple to this day, while “Bastard Nation” drives home the band’s “us against them” mentality in the most anthemic of ways. W.F.O. serves as a true underrated gem within Overkill’s catalog, and practically begs to be rediscovered by a new generation of thrashers.

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'Under The Influence' (1988)

Overkill - Under The Influence
Overkill - Under The Influence.

Though there are many would critique this record as one of Overkill’s weaker efforts—indeed, the band’s devil-may-care, NWOBHM-influenced origins do seem to be admittedly absent here on this more commercial effort—time has smiled somewhat favorably upon Under the Influence, regardless of where initial reviews of the album stood at the time.

Having given Overkill its first major hit single and video in the form of “Hello From the Gutter,” it was Under the Influence which first exposed many above-ground punters to the speed metal mayhem of Overkill. Luckily, most would stick around for the duration of the band’s career, so in this sense it remains an over-the-top caricature of Overkill at their most reckless.