Despite its punk rock roots the band was founded in New York/New Jersey as Virgin Killer before quickly changing its monicker to the Motörhead-influenced Overkill in 1980. The members had found each other through a classified ad. The monicker was actually suggested by guitarist Pisarek. He would not last and was replaced by Dan Spitz of Anthrax fame. Pisarek and Blitz were in D.O.A. Verni and Skates were in The Lubricunts. The group adopted a crossover sound, before leaning towards speed metal and thrash metal. The band became groovy and grungy with the advent of those trends and signing with major label Atlantic, but reverted back to thrashing by the end of the century. Bobby Blitz and D.D. Verni have been the band’s mainstays although the former was booted from the band for a short period to get his drug act together. D.D.’s alias is a tribute to Dee Dee Ramone.
A 1984 demo was self-entitled. Azra issued this in 1985. The group opened for Anthrax and Agent Steel in Europe and for Slayer in the USA. Much like other Megaforce labels, Overkill was a thrash metal act that obtained a major contract and signed with Atlantic Records as early as 1986. Much like other thrash metal bands of the area the group played at the L’Amours club. At first the major deal was through Megaforce, but the label signed the act directly later. The band was dropped in 1995. The group supported Taking Over by opening for Helloween in Europe and Megadeth at home. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth would ask Gustafson to join his band and, like with Jeff Waters of Annihilator, is rejected. Under The Influence was a success and the song Hello From The Gutter was spun on MTV. Gustafson would depart after arguing over money with Verni and Blitz and Overkill would go from a quartet to a quintet. I Hear Black was more subdued and commercial. The group toured with Savatage. W.F.O is short for ‘Wide Fucking Open’ and may be a reference to all the groupies. The band toured Europe with Jag Panzer and Massacra, but can never get a gig at Eindhoven or Dynamo as the organizer disliked the band. The Killing Kind was supported by a tour with Anvil, which is remarkable since the act had recruited Sebastian Marino of Anvil. Blitz was diagnosed with nose cancer in 1998. Necroshine was produced by Verni and Blitz. The band would finally satisfy a wish and play at Dynamo festival. Like every other band – Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, etc. - Overkill issued a covers’ CD called Coverkill. Joe Comeau would leave the guitar position and join Annihilator on vocals. Comeau would return briefly to fill a gap on guitar. Verni’s wife was giving birth in 2002 and Tailer was the live replacement. He would soon become permanent, but on guitar. Blitz had an on-stage minor stroke in Europe in 2002. Tim Mallare was absent from a 2005 tour and the band announced that Ron Lipnicki would temporarily join Overkill. This was soon to become a permanent arrangement however. The group signed with a new concern called Bodog Music, which was run by former Megaforce people. The group found a serious label in Nuclear Blast in 2009. The boys also signed an American deal with E1 Music and would release a new album, Ironbound, in January. Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy produced it. The band had previously signed with Nuclear Blast for Europe. A European tour will follow the album’s release. Metal Church was initially announced as tour-mates with Overkill in 2009 before the slot being withdrawn due to back issues for Metal Church’s Vanderhoof. Ironbound landed in the Billboard 200. Overkill and Forbidden played shows together. Overkill, Exodus and Outrage toured Japan. The group was booked for the Dark Roots Of Thrash tour with Testament, but this was cut short as Blitz contracted pneumonia. Ron Lipnicki, Hades’ guitarist Scott LePage and two musicians from '80s’ band Prowler formed a project called Ministry Of Hate in 2012. That band has a demo called All Your Godz Are Dead. Overkill’s 2012 album, called The Electric Age, was issued in North America on March 27th through eOne Music and in Europe through on March 30th through Nuclear Blast Records. It was recorded at bassist D.D. Verni’s Gain Studio. Live From Oz was a 2013 EP. The White Devil Armory sold approximately 8,400 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position number 31 on The Billboard 200 chart. Nuclear Blast issued it. Historikill: 1995 – 2007 was a 2015 box set. The group had recently re-signed with Nuclear Blast. The band and Symphony X toured together. The band asked the band’s soundman Eddy Garcia, who drummed for Pissing Razors, to sit on the stool for the European tour as Ron Lipnicki could not travel due to personal issues. The band toured Europe with support by Crowbar and thrash metal band Desecrator in November 2016. Overkill picked Grinding Wheel as the title for its next album, which was due through Nuclear Blast in the autumn of 2016. Overkill, Nile and Amorphis would tour the USA in the winter. The thrashers recruited former Grip Inc. guitarist Waldemar Sorychta on second guitar for its European headlining tour in 2016. Waldemar was filling in for Dave Linsk who was unable to tour for undisclosed reasons. Overkill recruited drummer Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall, Flotsam And Jetsam, etc.) to replace Ron Lipnicki in the spring of 2017. Overkill headlined the 2017 edition of the Metal Alliance Tour with openers Crowbar, Havok, Black Fast and Invidia. Verni would release a solo album featuring metal and rock music in 2018. This was separate from His Bronx Casket Co. side-project. The gang released its latest album, The Wings Of War, through Nuclear Blast in February 2019. The album was recorded at Gear Recording Studio. Overkill, Death Angel and Act Of Defiance were using Wings Over The USA monicker for a USA tour in May 2019. The group headlined the Killfest tour with Destruction, Flotsam And Jetsam and others in 2019. Not anticipating a pandemic the band signed on for the Full Metal Cruise of 2020. Vio-Lence parted ways with guitarist Ray Vegas. His stand-in replacement was former Overkill guitarist Bobby Gustafson. Wings Over USA monicker was announced as the name for a tour with Exhorder. Exhorder and guitarist Vinnie LaBella parted ways in 2020. The tour with Overkill was not affected.
The band’s mascot is Chaly, a bat with a prominent skeleton.
OVERKILL - NECROSHINE - CMC/BMG
In many eyes Overkill can do no wrong. The band has been serving the metal nation for nigh on twenty years, and has seldom (i.e. I Hear Black) disappointed. In other words, America's perennial thrashers have stood as the paradigm of consistency more often than not. Necroshine, unfortunately, will probably put a dent in that relationship. The album is not bad in itself. In fact, great riffs and musicianship abound. What prompts the concerns is Necroshine's affinity for utilizing impure or trendy elements taboo to a real metal fan. While the album opener kicks off in a strong fashion, Necroshine quickly degenerates into a Machine Head copy riff which is an insult to an Overkill fan. There are good song here like I Am Fear or good soloing as on Revelation, but those power chord-ridden, mechanical sounds which run rampant throughout this CD are not only cause for concern, but have already given rise to rumours regarding the band's future direction. That direction remains to be determined given the departure of one guitarist and the band's discovery of a 'modern' and trendy sound.
This is not a disaster by any means and once the band hit somewhere near Metallian Towers I will surely be there, but on the other hand one would be hard-pressed to find anything akin to Coma, Bastard Nation or Elimination on this. Approach with caution. - Ali "The Metallian"
OVERKILL - RELIXIV - SPITFIRE
The Overkill formula of an opener building up to its full speed describes Within Your Eyes. This is built as an album that explores all their previous work and as early as the second song, Love, one hears the odd breaks and 'grooves' that made Overkill's latter albums like Necroshine less appealing to fans of early Overkill. Loaded Rack has a lot in common with the best of Overkill and is a song that can truly claim to have an attitude. Bats In The Belfry is close to the From The Underground And Below era and is nevertheless an effective song helped by Blitz's screams. A Pound Of Flesh is a fast thrashy song somewhat similar to Coma. One of the fastest Overkill have ever done A Pound Of Flesh even ventures into Slayer territory. Keeper is next and keeps it on the heavy side. Wheelz, The Mark and Play The Ace do not make as hard as an impact as the two that proceeded them. The punkish Old School closes the album and is a familiar anthem song, with lines like 'they said this would never last' and 'we never gave a shit.'
Entirely self-produced ReliXIV features D.D.Verni's famous bass sound, Blitz close to his best and a sound that is raw and rather sharp. Overall ReliXIV has enough to confirm Overkill as one of the better bands of the past twenty years. - Anna Tergel