"RelixIV" (Spitfire; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

There are few bands that can boast the consistency of Overkill. Despite personnel changes and other rock'n'roll challenges, the band has managed to pump out crushing slabs of heavy metal since their debut CD was released ... 20 years ago!

That's why "RelixIV" is such a treat. Along comes the latest incarnation of the band with a new, 10-track CD, that delivers the metal their fans want to hear with nearly the power and the hunger of any of their earlier CDs. As with any Overkill release, "RelixIV" is not particularly better nor particularly worse than any other of the band's CDs. Instead, it fits the band's incredibly impressive catalog like the proverbial glove. After hearing "RelixIV," one can't imagine the band's history without it.

There are plenty of highlights on "RelixIV," including the still-impressive, armor-piercing voice of lead vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth. Ellsworth's trademark vocals are a combination of monster growls and banshee screams and the combination is skull-cracking perfect. The pounding, driving drums of Tim Mallare give more than one track an additional kick (especially on track #8, "The Mark 2:14," while the guitars of Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk know the right time to crunch and the right time to shred. There's never a solo or a riff that appears for vanity; it's always an important part of the song.

Another highlight is the CD's closer, the punk-ish anthem, "Old School."

As I said at the beginning, there aren't many bands that can still rock this hard after twenty years. But Overkill continues to deliver the goods at a consistently impressive level. Here's to another 20 years of Overkill!

Overkill: Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth - vocals; D.D. Verni - bass; Dave Linsk - guitars; Derek Tailer - guitars; Tim Mallare - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.wreckingcrew.com

"Wrecking Everything - Live" (Spitfire; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This one's easy: "Wrecking Everything - Live" will kick you solidly in the ass.

Recorded live at the Paramount Theatre on March 23, 2002 (yeah, that recently), "Wrecking Everything - Live" is the personification of a live Overkill show. It's loud, it's charismatic, it's fast, it's furious. Like I said, it'll kick you solidly in the ass.

Containing hits from the band's long, successful career, "Wrecking Everything - Live" is a must for every Overkill fan's collection and a great starting point for those who have yet to discover this awesome veteran band.

The only thing that could have made this CD better would have been the inclusion of a new track or two. But that's a minor gripe because this CD is incredible as is.

Overkill: Bobby Blitz Ellsworth, vocals; Tim Mallare, drums; D.D. Verni, bass and vocals; Derek Tailer - guitar and background vocals; Dave Linsk, guitar. 

For more information, please visit the band's website at http://www.wreckingcrew.com

"Bloodletting" (Metal-Is; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Like Motorhead and the Ramones (both bands that Overkill lists as influences), when you slide an Overkill CD into your player, you know what you're going to hear. There will be no nu-metal experimentation, there will be no ballads, there will be only heavy metal and enough of it to bruise your buttocks from the ass-kicking you're about to endure.

"Bloodletting" is not much different. It's a solid wall of molten guitar, growling vocals, throbbing bass and pounding drums. The lyrics are dark and/or threatening, the rhythms are fast and the impact powerful. It sounds a little different than previous Overkill albums due to a somewhat altered songwriting style, which - come to think of it - I may or may not be imagining. The songs on "Bloodletting" seem a little less straight-forward than previous releases, at least on the first run-through. They sound a little wilder. That being said - at this very moment, I'm listening to the first track, "Thunderhead" for the third time in as many hours, and it suddenly doesn't sound that different. It's definitely Overkill and that's all that matters. One interesting note: I've never noticed it before, but Bobby Blitz sounds quite a bit like Udo Dirkschneider on this recording.

Regardless, "Bloodletting" is another solid CD from a band that only delivers solid CDs. It gives Overkill fans what they have come to expect from the band: full force heavy metal with no pulled punches. Who can ask for more?

Overkill: Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth - vocals; DD Verni - 4 and 8 string bass, background vocals; Dave Linsk - lead and rhythm guitars, background vocals; Tim Mallare - drums. 

For more information, please visit the band's website at http://www.wreckingcrew.com

"Coverkill" (CMC International; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It started with the tribute CDs - those collections of little-known bands paying homage to their favorite metal masters. Then, with the likes of Metallica's "Garage, Inc.", the tide was turned. Suddenly, the huge bands were paying homage to the bands that influenced them. 

Now, Overkill has got into the cover act with "Coverkill," a collection of 13 songs that the band names as influences. In the liner notes, Blitz writes, "So let's face it, a band has to have influences, and to know yourself is to know where you've come from, and to deny your influences would be to deny yourself."

Listening to "Coverkill," one can clearly see the influences that led to the creation of Overkill. The band began as a cover band - performing many of the songs on this CD - and the fun that the band has and the passion with which they play these tunes is apparent. These aren't just the recordings of some band tipping their hat to their influences; this is a collection of heartfelt performances played by Overkill as fans.

Of course, the CD begins with a ripping version of the Motorhead classic, "Overkill"; next up is a nasty version of The Sex Pistols "No Feelings." Then the CD really gets twisted with an overkilled version of Jethro Tull's "Hymn 43." You haven't lived until you've heard Overkill do Jethro Tull.

An almost perfectly mimic of Black Sabbath's "Changes" is up next, followed by a heavier, greasier version of Deep Purple's classic, "Space Truckin'." We're reminded that KISS was once a band that influenced people's taste in music with Overkill's version of "Deuce," followed by another Sabbath cover, "Never Say Die."

Manowar's "Death Tone" is covered next, followed by a very heavy "Cornucopia," the first cover recorded with Joe and Sebastian. A fuzzy, fast cover of Judas Priest's "Tyrant" is next. Then the band switches back to punk rock with "Ain't Nothin' To Do," a cover of the classic Dead Boys song.

The final track (officially) is a rough and raw cover of The Ramones "I'm Against It," actually transferred from a "10 year old, shitty cassette." It's all the better for its roughness.

But stay tuned: "I'm Against It" is followed by one of those notorious hidden tracks. "Tequila" - the song from the Pee Wee Herman movie originally performed by ... oh, hell, I can't remember. Look it up.

All of the songs, by the way, come from various periods in the band's career. They weren't just recorded recently as a "influences collection."

In the end, I'd say that "Coverkill" is a better CD than Metallica's "Garage Days." It's got more oomph and I like the song selection even better. Overkill is one of those bands that deserves more recognition and, hopefully, we'll help give it to them.

Overkill is Blitz, vocals; Tim Mallare, drums; D.D. Verni, bass and vocals; Joe Comeau, guitar and vocals; Dave Linsk, guitar. 

For more information, please visit the band's website at http://www.wreckingcrew.com

"Necroshine" (CMC International; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Overkill has survived for years and years by continuing to do what they do best: playing some seriously heavy kick-ass rock'n'roll. With "Necroshine," they don't disappoint, delivering some of their signature razor-sharp guitar licks and thunderous drums. 

Coupled with dark, intelligent lyrics and rage-induced vocals, "Necroshine" gives Overkill fans - and fans of heavy music in general - what they want most: a reason to pump their fists in the air and scream for more. 

Best tracks include the title track (which opens with choppy drum licks that sound like a helicopter hovering overhead), the chunky, sorta scary "Let Us Prey," the psychedelic "Stone Cold Jesus" and the fast and heavy "Black Line."

OVERKILL is: Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, vocals; D.D. Verni, 4- and 8-string bass, background vocals; Tim Mallare, drums; Joe Comeau, guitar, vocals; Sebastian Marino, guitar.

"The Years of Decay" (Megaforce / Atlantic; 1989)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What's great about "The Years of Decay" is that it's classic thrash before there ever should have been classic thrash. It's the beginning of an era ... and the end of an era ... and it sounds like it. Imagine Overkill trying to decide exactly what their sound should be. This is the CD that shows their evolution.

Ranging from the full-bore thrash to the "not sure this is thrash but it still kicks ass," "The Years of Decay" rocks hard from start to finish without ever really falling into any other genre than "Overkill Music." And you know what? That's good enough for me!

Not as consistent or as powerful as their later releases, "The Years of Decay" still delivers the classic Overkill punch. After fifteen years, the CD is a little dated but its impact is still nearly as intense. 

Overkill: Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth - vocals; D.D. Verni - bass; Bobby Gustafson - guitars; "Sid" Faick - drums.

For more information, please visit the band's website at http://www.wreckingcrew.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 14:16:13 -0400.