Overkill Biography

This thrash metal quartet was formed in New York, USA, in 1984 by vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth, guitarist Bobby Gustafson, bass player D.D. Verni and drummer Rat Skates. Together they self-financed the recording of a mini-album. Desperately short of cash and exposure, they sold the rights to the small Azra label and made a net loss. They were soon picked up by Megaforce Records, however, and released their full debut album in 1985. Feel The Fire was a brutal speed-metal riff assault, but lacked the variation in light and shade to compete with bands such as Metallica and Anthrax. Three more albums followed a similar pattern, with Under The Influence (featuring new drummer Sid Falck) raising their profile and generating comparisons to Testament. Following The Years Of Decay, Gustafson quit and was replaced by Rob Cannevino and Merritt Gant (ex-Faith Or Fear). Expanded to a quintet, the band recorded Horrorscope, their best work to date. Varying their approach, they only switched to hyperspeed at crucial moments, in order to maximize the impact. The album also featured an amazing version of Edgar Winter’s ‘Frankenstein’.

Over Kill’s reputation continued to grow following successful support slots on Helloween and Slayer tours, and another excellent album in I Hear Black, which saw the debut of new drummer Tim Mallare. The follow-up W.F.O. was packed with strong songs such as ‘Where It Hurts’ and ‘New High In Lows’, but was released only in mainland Europe. In 1995, shortly after releasing a 10th anniversary live triple album, guitarists Cannevino and Gant both left the band. Sebastian Marino and Joe Comeau were recruited to fill the vacancies, but by the late 90s Over Kill’s reputation had been sullied by a string of poor releases. Dave Linsk took over as lead guitar on 2000’s Bloodletting. In 2002 Ellsworth suffered a stroke on stage.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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