Ranking OVERKILL: The Studio Albums – Worst to First


15. ReliXIV (2005)

While some Overkill fans often bemoan much of their 90s output, I would argue that the oughts were their weakest decade, from Bloodletting to Immortalis to ReliXIV, the band felt a bit uninspired overall. Only 2003’s Killbox 13 seemed to break out of that. Again, it’s all relative as the New Jersey thrash masters don’t make bad albums, just some that are better than others.  This album blends a balance of Overkill thrash with the groove elements they incorporated in the 90s, and there are some classic headbangers on here like “Bats in the Belfry,” “A Pound of Flesh,” “Within Your Eyes,” and the punkish dust up, “Old School”. The production on ReliXIV is fairly raw, which works to the band’s favor as much as its detriment. On the positive side of that is, the guitar sound is thick and muscular. Beefy riffage is always a plus.

14. The Killing Kind (1996)

In prototypical Overkill fashion, the band throat punches you right out the gate on album opener, “Battle.” Immediately apparent is the punishing fretwork of newcomers Joe Comeau and Sebation Marino. Verni’s bass rumbles and Ellsworth is all gravel and wail. With the addition of Comeau we also get more back up/harmony vocals in the mix. “God-Like” has that punkish groove the band has always held fast to. The album overall, showcases many aspects of the bands developing yet consistent sound. Hardcore elements even appear on this effort. “Certifiable” reaffirms that Blitz is indeed so. So after three crushers you’re asking, why so low on the list? After this breakneck start the album, things begin to wane a bit. It’s definitely a frontloaded affair. Much of The Killing Kind feels a bit plodding if not lost in mid-tempo meandering.

13. Killbox 13 (2003)

Unlike the majority of Overkill records, Killbox 13 did not open with a true kick down the door, fist to the gut assault. In fact, one of the album’s weakest songs, “Devil by the Tail” opens it up. Fortuitously the album improves from there. The album finds the band returning to more of its thrash wheelhouse, though elements of the Nu-Groove sound appear on tracks like “Until I Die” and “Crystal Clear.” In the “save the best for last” mold, Overkill cranked it hardest on the album’s final three tracks, “Struck Down,” “Unholy” and “I Rise.” The trio serve as speedy whirlwind onslaughts of thrash goodness. One of the only back-loaded album’s in the band’s catalog.

12. I Hear Black (1993)

This is by far the hardest album to judge among Overkill’s studio works. Here’s the problem, it’s a damn good album, but it’s not very Overkill. In fact, but for Blitz’s readily identifiable vocals, one might assume this were another band. The album followed its iconic masterpieces Years of Decay and Horrorscope, so instead of trying to top those they took a sharp left turn into new territory. This opened the door for the band’s much maligned groove heavy 90s era. Creatively this may be the band’s most diverse effort, and for that alone it bears returned excursions to appreciate it as a notable exception, a diversion of the band’s trademark sound. The metal world as a whole was in disarray and being crushed under the boot of grunge. Many bands shifted focus to adapt to some degree, and even Overkill was not immune, and in that regard, I Hear Black is remarkably better than what many of their contemporaries were dishing out.

11. Under the Influence (1988)

I know it seems like blasphemy to have this ranked down here, but it had to go somewhere, and as it is the least of the band’s earliest efforts, this is the spot. Under the Influence features one of the band’s true classic anthems in “Hello from the Gutter” and gets a kick start from album opener “Shred.” After two classic albums to open its career, Overkill shifted to a somewhat mainstream thrash sound eschewing some of their hardcore/punk elements. The result makes for an album that appears to be trying a bit too hard to play with the big boys. Metal insecurity. It happens when you have a label and big names trying to push you in a certain direction. The production is lacking on most levels as well which didn’t help, and Blitz seemed a little unmoored vocally.

  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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