New Jersey thrash legends Overkill have been one of the hardest working bands in thrash metal. Formed in 1980, the band has been dishing out it's intense force of thrash, groove & speed metal for over forty years. The band, rarely taking breaks, with consistently releasing new music since the band's 1985 debut Feel The Fire to their most recent record Scorched in 2023.

With twenty studio albums over the band's forty plus year career, I wanted to listen to it all, from the past to the present. Chronicling the band's origins, evolution and to what they bring to the table with their modern sound. I am gonna have a sore neck after this one. So buckle up readers, this is gonna be a long one, as I rank all twenty Overkill albums.

20) I Hear Black (1993)

The band's sixth album and first for new drummer Tim Mallare. Continuing from the sound of their previous album Horrorscope, the band would begin to infuse more of a groove metal sound, but further diving into more experimental elements to the band's sound. Along with differing guitar styles, including elements of blues, doom and stoner metal guitar tones. The album was a start of the band's experimental phase during the 90's. The fanbase was mixed on the more slowed down sound that almost went against what made the band famous. Almost calling the band out for trying to mimic the popularity of Pantera's sound.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "I Hear Black", "World of Hurt", "Spiritual Void"

19) The Killing Kind (1996)

Their eighth album, Overkill would add new guitarists to the band. Adding former Liege Lord singer Joe Comeau and former Anvil guitarist Sebastian Marino to the lineup with this album. Though containing a lot of thrash metal elements the band was popular for, the band would begin to add more modern elements into the band's direction with this album. Including traits from hardcore and groove metal to the album's theme. It is a divisive record amongst the fanbase. Some claiming it to be the band's best work, while others claim it to be the band's worst. I will agree it is not the band's best work, but it is far from the worst of this band's massive discography.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "God-Like", "Let Me Shut That For You", "Bold Face Pagan Stomp"

18) Bloodletting (2000)

Following the departure of Comeau and Marino, the band was back to a rebuilding phase. Adding Dave Linsk to the band. This was also the band's first album recorded as a four piece. Drawing a more minimalist lineup and increased intensity on this album, the band did extremely well with just being a four-piece. With the band including more thrash and speed to the sound and reigning in the groove, the album shows the band channeling their younger self and bringing the fury on the album.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Bleed Me", "What I'm Missin", "Death Comes Out To Play"

17) Immortalis (2007)

Their fourteenth studio album, and with new drummer Ron Lipnicki, Overkill kept the pedal to the metal with this record. With the gritty, grungy guitar tone popular in the nu-metal sound, the band still stuck to their thrash roots on the record. With pummeling double bass mix, the album had a darker feel and tone to it. The album's songs have the perfect hybrid of the band's groove/thrash mixture, and done well on this release. The album would also feature the band's second ever guest appearance with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God on the track "Skull and Bones".

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Devils in The Mist", "Walk Through Fire", "Skull and Bones"

16) The Wings of War (2019)

With new drummer Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall & formerly Flotsam and Jetsam joining the band in his studio debut, the band had cemented their sound that these thrash titans still got it. With amazing and heavy production, the album's opener will blow your speaker with its loud production and insane heaviness. It has become a staple at this point in the band's sound that they will give you consistent, reliable thrash metal that will give you a sore neck and something to get the pit going insane for. Overkill can almost do no wrong with the insanely impressive streak of good records since the release of Ironbound. Which very few bands have been able to garner a successful streak of releases for over ten years and not have any dips.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Last Man Standing", "Head of A Pin", "Batshitcrazy"

15) Necroshine (1999)

With the band's tenth album and the first solid lineup they've had for more than two studio albums, Necroshine showed the band's stability and determination to keep the momentum going from the previous album From The Underground and Below's success. The album's title track is still played in the band's live set. The album's sound does lean more towards groove metal compared to the more thrash metal sound of the previous album, but it is still a good follow up to the previous album.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Necroshine", "Let Us Pray", "80 Cycles"

14) Scorched (2023)

The band's most recent record and longest gap between records. The album continues the trend of the band having not only a consistent lineup, but also showing that after twenty albums, and a forty year career, these legends can outshine any naysayers. The guitar tone is insanely good on this record and Bittner is so good on the record, adding more flurries and impressive drumming to the album. With elements of traditional heavy metal appearing again on "Goin' Home", the song shows that the band can still dabble with other genres and their sound without going overboard in the delivery.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Scorched", "Goin' Home", "Wicked Place"

13) The Grinding Wheel (2017)

Overkill wanted to continue the success and momentum from their streak of thrash records with The Grinding Wheel. The band's sound was cemented and matched from the success of their last two previous albums. Going for the throat on every track, with the band firing on all cylinders, showing the band's tank wasn't running low but full and burning. The album is a strong release and shows, to borrow a phrase from another thrash band, to Overkill thrash is their business, and business is good.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Mean, Green, Killing Machine", "Our Finest Hour", "The Long Road"

12) W.F.O. (1994)

An acronym for Wide Fucking Open, the band's seventh album was happily received from fans and critics. The band would abandon most of the experimentation and return to the thrashier/groove metal sound from Horrorscope. The band's attitude towards this album, which the band produced themselves, was to do what they wanted to do and not try to pigeonhole themselves into a genre with the direction of the record. Incorporating traditional heavy metal into their sound is noticeable on certain tracks. It is still the groove-era of Overkill and a return to form. The album does feature an instrumental track "R.I.P. (Undone)" as a tribute to Savatage co-founder Criss Oliva, who passed away nine months before the release of the album. As well as some hidden tracks of the band warming up practicing songs from Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix & Judas Priest.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Where It Hurts", "Under One", "They Eat Their Young"

11) White Devil Armory (2014)

With blistering speed from the album's opening track "Armorist", Overkill kicks the door in with their seventeenth studio album. The band channels the essence of classic 80's thrash with this record, along with impressive drumming by Ron Lipnicki. The feel of the record has the feeling of a classic Overkill record, but in the 2000's. Giving off the feeling of the band re-recorded a classic album. A good record and the band continuing the "Thrash Renaissance" they were going through at the time of this release, and it shows. The album would be the band's most successful album peaking at number 31 on the Billboard 200.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Armorist", "Down To The Bone", "Where There's Smoke"

10) Horrorscope (1991)

The last record recorded with producer Terry Date, the band's fifth album was greeted with hesitation from the fanbase. This was the first record without founding guitarist Gustafson. The band would bounce back with adding two new guitarists to the band with Rob Cannavino & Merritt Gant. With double bass pummeling in the mix and some songs going for a more groove tone like in the song "Infectious", the band would begin to adapt their 80's thrash sound to the popularity of 90's metal sound and production.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Blood Money", "Infectious", "Thanx For Nothin'"

9) ReliXIV (2005)

Continuing the thrash metal focus of Killbox 13, Overkill turned up the intensity and kept the path with the follow up. With a strong opening track "Within Your Eyes", the band kept the same mindset in the production, musical direction and intense performance on this album. A heavy record, with Ellsworth's snarling vocals at their best on this record, even after almost thirty years. Though featured some groove metal oriented riffs like on "Bats in The Belfry", the song still keeps the energy and nostalgia of the band's thrash roots with a modern day sound and production.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Within Your Eyes", "Loaded Rack", "Bats in The Belfry"

8) The Electric Age (2012)

The follow up to the monstrously successful album Ironbound, The Electric Age was the band trying to capture lightning in a bottle again with its follow up. The energy and delivery of the performances has the same impact as Ironbound, but I think it just doesn't have the same punch as Ironbound. Ellsworth's vocals are still impressive as all hell on this release, almost doing a Rob Halford of Judas Priest and just getting better with age.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Come and Get It", "Electric Rattlesnake", "Drop The Hammer Down"

7) From The Underground and Below (1997)

With a heavy as all hell opening track "It Lives", Overkill comes out of the gate strong and goes for the jugular with their ninth studio album. Ellsworth has said that this is one of his favorite Overkill albums, and I agree. Potentially one of the better records from the 90's era version of the band. The band truly focused on what made them famous with their thrash sound and really fine-tuned their groove metal elements to make one strong, heavy and crushingly good record. Showcasing that this band can still give it everything they've got in it's sound and attitude.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "It Lives", "Long Time Dyin'", "F.U.C.T."

6) Killbox 13 (2003)

The band's twelfth studio album, the album was Overkill amped up and cranked to eleven. With vocals drenched in reverb, modern production and pissed off energy, Overkill punched everyone in the face with this record. Receiving critical acclaim, citing the band's return to form of just straight thrash metal, channeling the aura and success of the band's debut album Feel The Fire. I love the focus of Overkill just being a thrash band again, and the fan response to this record agrees with me.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Devil By The Tail", "Damned", "The Sound of Dying"

5) Feel The Fire (1985)

The album that started it all for the band. From the opening of Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth's opening cries on the track "Raise The Dead" into the shredding ferocity of Bobby Gustafson, Overkill put their name on the map in thrash metal with this release, showing along with Anthrax that the East Coast can also shred just as hard as the Bay Area thrash acts. With similarities to Iron Maiden in the vocal performance, infused over a hybrid of thrash and heavy metal, this would be the first step in the band going faster and heavier in later releases. But one hell of an opening debut album.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Raise The Dead", "Rotten To The Core", "Second Sun", "Hammerhead"

4) The Years of Decay (1989)

The last album featuring founding member Bobby Gustafson on guitar, this would mark the band starting to include more progressive elements into the band's legendary thrash sound. With the inclusion of producer Terry Date on this album and it's follow up, his influence can be heard in the production quality and musical direction. Cited by fans as potentially their best record, some critics also cited it as one of the peak records of the East Coast Thrash scene, along with Anthrax's Spreading The Disease. The record would also be an inspiration for Pantera to hire Terry Date to produce their Cowboys From Hell album since they loved Gustafson's guitar tone and production style.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Time To Kill", "Elimination", "Birth of Tension"

3) Taking Over (1987)

Following the success of their debut album Feel The Fire, Overkill amped up their production with this record. This would also be the last album to feature drummer Rat Skates, who would leave the band that same year. Ellsworth's shrieking high vocals are cranked to 11 on this album.  With catchy, gang vocals on the opening track and faster performances, Overkill didn't slow down or change their sound with this release. A one-two punch of opening tracks with "Deny The Cross" and "Wrecking Crew" delivering some of the heaviest, thrash sounding guitar playing and vocals. An impressive step-up from their debut, showing this band wasn't going to take it's foot off the gas and just run you over laughing and cranking the stereo up in the process.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "Deny The Cross", "Wrecking Crew", "Fatal If Swallowed"

2) Ironbound (2010)

The band would release, what many consider, is the band's best record of the modern era with 2010's Ironbound. Their first on Nuclear Blast, the album received very high reviews, praising Ellsworth's vocal performance on the record. Stating that his high-pitched screaming is at the best it's been in year, and delivered his best performance of his career on this album. Not only did critics and fans love the record, fellow thrash guitarist Gary Holt of Exodus would later state it is one of the best records ever. The album is a great introduction to the band if you are new to the fan, but don't want the sometimes bad 80's production and mixing. I have to agree with Holt on this that this may be one of the best thrash records of all time.

STANDOUT TRACKS: "The Green and Black", "Ironbound", "Endless War"

1) Under The Influence (1988)

Marking the debut of new drummer Sid Falck, the album continued the band's ongoing consistency in releasing new material, following the release of the Fuck You E.P. one year earlier. With it's opening track "Shred" creating a chugging and strong palm muted opening riff into a frantic and manic guitar solos, you know the band is starting off with one hell of an opening punch. It sets the stage for one of the band's heaviest, fastest and aggressive albums. With unmatched fury, great production, and the band firing on all cylinders, this truly is the band's best album.


Do you agree with my rankings? What albums do you think below higher or lower? Let us know in our comments section on social media and on our new Reddit page. You can also let us know what band's discography you'd love us to rank next!

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