Ranking OVERKILL: The Studio Albums – Worst to First


10. From the Underground and Below (1997)

Launched just a year after The Killing Kind, Overkill dove headfirst into the Pantera groove machine with nods to Nola sludge. For that reason, much like with I Hear Black, it’s difficult to assess where the album lands in the band’s ranked arsenal. It’s a fucking crusher of a record, as evidenced from the album opener, “It Lives.” That said, it diverts away significantly from the band’s thrash foundation and early punk-laden roots. One might even suggest the albums gives nods to Nu-Metal, albeit it with a more aggressive and corrosive delivery. From the Underground and Below, for most Overkill fans is of the “acquired taste” variety, but the record has some great tracks including “Save Me,” “Half Past Dead,” “Rip N’ Tear” and “Lil Bit O’ Murder.”

9. White Devil Armory (2014)

For the next few albums it really feels like splitting hairs in determining rank. The band’s middle tier of albums is all pretty solid and fairly equal. I placed White Devil Armory at the end of this tier because it feels like “the least” of these affairs. After the brilliant thrash comeback of 2010’s Ironbound, the band dropped two more albums which followed that template, with Electric Age and White Devil Armory. Neither is as impactful as Ironbound, but when you’re this good, you simply cannot top yourself every record. After tossing out the somewhat pointless intro “XDM,” the thrash hurricane begins in earnest with “The Armorist” and then the storm of wrecking crew aggression takes control. Verni brings his ‘A’ game on this one, highlighted by tracks like “Bitter Pill.” Two of the album’s many highlights include “King of the Rat Bastards” and the playfully raucous anthem, “The Fight Song,” which is a bonus track.

8. The Electric Age (2012)

Refer to my previous splitting hairs comment. A step down from Ironbound but not dissimilar in thrash bombast, The Electric Age continues the juggernaut assault of its predecessor. The album opens with the one-two punch of “Come and Get It” and “Electric Rattlesnake,” and if you’re not bitten and enthralled at this point, you don’t know your thrash. The band has regained its footing and here they demonstrate their renewed confidence and assertiveness. Tracks like “Save Yourself,” “Drop the Hammer,” and “21st Century Man” are modern classics for the band. I would argue that this decade, beginning with Ironbound and through The Wings of War is the group’s most impressive and strongest era. Age, wisdom, and relentless dedication are paying huge dividends.

7. The Grinding Wheel (2017)

Another Overkill album, and another rampaging assault to open the album with “Mean, Green, Killing Machine.” and the mosh pit waltz, “Goddamn Trouble.” How is hell  Overkill not in the Big 4? With The Grinding Wheel, Overkill begins breaking the template they forged on 2010’s Ironbound. Adding in new elements, and bringing back a bit of their 90s groove in a manner that fits their modern sound.  “Let’s All Go to Hades” has a tasty mix of thrashiness, groove, and a classic rock foundation, while “Red, White, and Blue” is a blitzkrieg of sonic aggression. Everything fits nicely together here, from Blitz’s venomous delivering, to Verni’s marrow-vibrating bass, to punchy riffs, and Lipnicki’s steady stick work. If there is anything negative to say about this album, it would be the one-hour plus running time which feels a bit bloated.

6. Taking Over (1987)

Overkill‘s sophomore album revealed a more thrash infused sound than their debut effort, Feel the Fire. The album saw slightly better production than its debut, and garnered major label distribution. Bobby Gustafson‘s distorted thrash sound got its due after the thin sound of Taking Over‘s predecessor. Rat Skates provided a sturdier performance ,though he remains perhaps the band’s weakest stick wielder to date. While not quite as raw as the debut album, it showcases more aggression. Blitz sounds great, though he still has not found his unique vocal groove, and his lyrical output still needed time to develop. There is almost a sense that Jon Zazula tried to force the band into being something of a Metallica clone. The album art for Taking Over may be among the most ridiculous of the era, but it adds a sense of fun in hindsight.

  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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