Ranking OVERKILL: The Studio Albums – Worst to First


It’s 2019, and the blue-collar bruisers in Overkill are about to drop album number 19. It seemed the appropriate time to rank the band’s massive canon of thrash-n-roll. Picking and choosing what goes where on a list like this is always a difficult challenge, but Overkill has been so damn consistent over the course of its damn near four decade career, the challenge is even tougher than normal. Frontman Bobby Blitz Ellsworth and bassist DD Verni have been the band’s mainstays for the duration, but each iteration of the band has churned out thrash heavy classics that still stand the test of time. With longtime guitarists Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk in tow, and drummer Jason Bittner joining the fray, Overkill is set to decimate with The Wings of War which dropped today. Let’s see where it falls on our worst to first rankings. Sound off in the comments below on where you think we got it wrong, or right!

19. Bloodletting (2000)

The turn of the millennium is where we begin our journey.  If there was a point in Overkill’s career where they came close to phoning it in, this would be the album. The band opens the oughts with an album that finds them reconnecting with their thrashier roots. Overall, it lacks commitment and the decisive energy the band is known for. That said, it’s still a solid album cause hey, it’s fucking Overkill. As they always do, they kick open the front door with the rumble heavy opener “Thunderhead,” but immediately you notice Ellsworth’s vocals are a bit too nasally (which carries throughout the record). The true weakness with this record is in the overall lack of memorability. Some might argue a few of the band’s 90s efforts were worse records, but all of them had moments that stuck with you. Bloodletting can’t really make the same argument, though it’s still a raucous listen even if it doesn’t stick.

18. Immortalis (2007)

The last Overkill album prior to the band’s massive re-emergence with the beastly Ironbound in 2010. Three years between records is an eternity for Overkill, so perhaps the band knew it had to up the ante after the mostly forgettable Immortalis. Verni’s songwriting feels a bit tired here, and that sense of creative lethargy plays out across the record, with few high points. Even a cameo by Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe could not save Immortalis from mediocrity. In fact his appearance on “Skull and Bones” is one of the album’s true low points. But again, I feel obligated to state, Overkill mediocrity is still better than most band’s better works. Drummer Ron Lipnicki made his debut here, and that provided a fresh punch over the complacent malaise of the departed Tim Mallare.

17. Necroshine (1999)

As the band closed out the century and the nation dealt with Y2K, Bobby Blitz was dealing with the aftermath of an aggressive type of nose cancer. Coincidentally it led to an album full of his more adventurous vocal moments. I’m listening to the album as I look back over their catalog and it reminds me that even though the band had really gone in more of a groove metal direction during the 90s, they were still balls heavy, and almost overwhelmed the groove itself. It is arguably the band’s most experimental record to date, and not all of that experimentation paid dividends. Like Bloodletting, Necroshine, despite being a more memorable album for its diversity, still does not resonate with lasting remarkability. One can enjoy listening to it, but few fans go back to it often. Superb production stands out.

16. W.F.O. (1994)

While the album title stands for Wide Fucking Open, one might surmise it means Where the Fuck are the Others, as the most noticeable element one hears is the dominance of D.D. Verni’s bass throughout the record. I’ve always bemoaned the bass being buried in metal, but this is so in your face it becomes distracting. It marks the band’s first album completely self-produced which might explain the latter issue. One can hear the influence of the groove metal trending peeking in throughout the record, though it definitely finds the band once again embracing its thrash esthetic. W.F.O. came just one year after the broad departure of 93’s I Hear Black, and the speed with which the band got it out suggests they let some of the harsh critiques of said album push them a bit. If not for the aforementioned bass issues, this might rank several slots higher. Blitz gets absolutely sinister on the closer “Gasoline Dream,” an album highlight.

  1. Alexa says

    I was a huge Overkill fan back in the early ’90s. Indeed, Horrorscope was truly a mastepiece, and probably one of the best albums in metal music.
    Sadly, after that, everything went to shit. Every once in a while I tried to listen some of the new songs, but I felt they just were not that good anymore.

    1. King Diamond says

      No horroscope isn’t masterpiece, never was and never will be, feel the fire is masterpiece, always been, taking over is one masterpieces.

  2. Mike says

    Ugh I don’t trust this review 98% of metal heads I know state That the years of decay is their best album so I believe this dude is way off

  3. Blade says

    Horrorscope, taking over, killing kind, everything else. I’m a huge Overkill fan and I’ve forgotten 16 of those 19 albums, except for 1 or 2 songs here and there.

  4. King Diamond says

    Feel the fire is definitely my favorite Overkill album ever, but feel the fire isn’t pure thrash metal, it’s mixed thrash/punk/NWOBHM, all those, because Overkill belong those who madeup thrash metal, i am been Overkill fan since old school, fuck you is one greatest cover songs what is ever made, Overkill is one rule in thrash metal scene ever.

  5. King Diamond says

    Olin old schoolissa Overkill fani ja itelle mestariteos oli ja on edelleen, feel the fire, 80luvun mestariteos ja taking over + under the influence ja sen jälkeen kaikki on paskaa, years or decay on eka tikku paskassa, horroscope on vähä parempi mut en pidä mestariteoksena, mut yksi parhaista on, taking over, jopa under the influence on kumpaaki parempi.

  6. Chris says

    The best of all…IMO. In order of release.

  7. Dab says

    Interesting list. My personal favorite is still Feel The Fire but I agree that, objectively, Horrorscope is Overkill’s best album (it was also my first album from them). It takes all the best parts of The Years Of Decay and refines them. There’s just a overall better form of structure to their songs here compared to TYOD. Not saying Years is badly structured, far from it, it’s just Horrorscope feels tighter, offers memorable and fantastic riffs / lyrics and, variety musically.

    -Alexa: uhhhh no, not everything went to shit. You may have some bad taste but Overkill was still putting out solid / great content and still does. Sorry you have to feel this way and have a bad opinion.
    -King Diamond: Horrorscope has and always will be a masterpiece. People literally interchange Horrorscope and Years Of Decay constantly. Again, sorry for your bad opinion (also shame on you disgracing the great name of King Diamond)
    -Blade: : if you’re a huge fan then how can forget 16 of their 19 albums? Or do you mean you only forget 2? Which for any of those cases I feel bad for you because I can remember all of them.

    I’m a big thrash guy and Overkill’s been the band that stood out to me (they’re my favorite band for a reason). Nice list!

  8. RJD says

    The order of my top 3 or 4 could change tomorrow:
    1) Taking Over
    2) The Years Of Decay
    3) Feel The Fire
    4) Horrorscope
    5) Ironbound
    6) Under The Influence
    7) The Wings Of War
    8) The Electric Age
    9) The Grinding Wheel
    10) White Devil Armory
    11) From The Underground And Below
    12) I Hear Black

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