Our top 10 Overkill songs looks at the work of one of the more cult bands in the thrash metal genre who are also one of the oldest. Even though their first record may have come out later, Overkill existed before any of the big four of thrash. This makes them very important as they were easily among the first bands to start playing a more fast and more aggressive style of metal. Despite not gaining as much commercial success as some of the other bands, Overkill has always been committed to making some of the best music that subgenre has ever known. They have also been very consistent throughout their career, having no hiatuses or disbandments and always sticking to their guns regardless of what musical trends have happened over the course of their existence..
Overkill is generally considered to be one of the “second division” thrash metal bands with the likes of Exodus and Testament. They have gone through many line-up changes throughout their time with only two original members in the form of vocalist Bobby Blitz and bassist D.D Verni. Along with Anthrax and Nuclear Assault, they are an integral part of the East Coast thrash scene.
With nineteen albums to their name, Overkill have a very prolific history as a band. They enjoyed a fair amount of chart success in their early years and to this day remain a popular and successful act in metal. Here is a list of their ten best songs.
# 10 – Necroshine
Kicking of our top ten Overkill songs list is the title track and opening song from the band’s tenth album released in 1999. Since its release, this track has been a permanent staple of the band’s live sets. The album was reissued in 2003 and sold and got to number thirty-seven on the Billboard top Heatseekers chart where it reached number thirty-seven. This was the band’s first-ever album to have the same line-up as the previous record, although guitarist Sebastian Marino left not long after it was recorded.
# 9- Electric Rattlesnake
Up next we have a fan favorite from the band’s sixteenth album The Electric Age released in 2012. This album was Overkill’s first record to get in the top 100 of the main Billboard 200 Album Charts where it got to number seventy-seven. It also did well in several countries and on several other US charts, with its highest position being number seven on the Billboard Top Hard Rock albums.
# 8 – Gasoline Dream
Our next track is the closing number of the seventh album released in 1994 titled W.F.O, the title of which I am not allowed to say what it stands for on here. The album was said to be a return to the band’s thrash roots but it does have elements of classic heavy metal. This track in particular seems to be influenced by the then-current groove metal scene, as the riff on it is quite similar to Pantera in parts. This album was successful, getting to number nine on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart.
# 7 – I Hate
With this track, we go back to the earlier days of the band with this cut taken from the band’s fourth album The Years Of Decay released in 1989. This album is commonly regarded to be among the band’s most progressive-sounding albums. Whilst it is still primarily thrash, it mixes the style with that of Iron Maiden-style traditional heavy metal. It got to number 155 on the Billboard 200.
# 6 – Long Time Dyin’
The last song on the first half of this list is taken from the band’s ninth album released in 1997 titled From The Underdog and Below. Bobby Blitz lists this record as one of his favorite albums from the band. Along with Necroshine, this album was also reissued as part of a double box set in 2003. It got to number thirty-four on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart.
# 5 – Coma
The first track on the second half of this list is taken from the fifth Overkill record Horroscope released in 1991. This opening track was released as a promotional single and had its own video. It is the band’s most commercially successful album to date, reaching number twenty-nine on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.
# 4 – Ironbound
The song “Ironbound,” is the title track of Overkill’s fifteenth album released in 2010. This album was the longest awaited album that the band had ever done, with their previous album coming out in 2007. Prior to that they had never taken longer than two years to make another album. The album was well received and got to 192 on the Billboard 200.
# 3 – Playing With Spiders/Skullcrusher
At number three we present an epic ten-minute track that is also taken from The Years Of Decay. This track showcases Overkill at undoubtedly their most experimental peak. Here the band is not playing thrash and instead is slowing down to a snail’s pace by being very heavily influenced by Black Sabbath. The track is basically a doom metal song for most of its length whilst occasionally speeding up into familiar territory.
# 2 – Drunken Wisdom
Just off the top of our Overkill songs list, we go all the way back to the band’s third album Under The Influence released in 1988. The album is Overkill’s longest to remain on the Billboard chart, remaining on there for thirteen weeks where it reached 142. To this day it is their third highest-charting album, having sold around 300,000 copies with it still continuing to sell today.
# 1 – Horrorscope
At the top of our Overkill songs list we have the title track “Horrorscope,” of the classic fifth album. The song is a classic metal song that is slower in tempo than what this band are generally known for, it even has slight grunge elements to it, with the riff being rather reminiscent of Soundgarden. Whether or not this was intentional is unclear, but this album did come out at a time when grunge was becoming the dominant rock genre so it is a possibility. Although this was not a single, it did have its own promo video which found cult status when it received heavy rotation on MTV’s ”Headbangers Ball.”
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Overkill’s line-up has been steadier as of late, and the albums of the last several years are just as heavy as thrash gets, sometimes reaching death metal intensity. I also like “Immortalis” with the duet of Bobby Ellsworth and guest roarer Randy Blythe.
Overkill have never been a pretty band – like when they welcomed us to the gutter to join them early on, this is metal for the urban tough audiences who were not interested in glam or pretty boy bands, and wanted their own beloved NYC to have a truly devastating thrash band of their own. Anthrax was uneven, sometimes downright goofy, but Overkill and the very overlooked Whiplash were awesome. Plus, the tri-city area (Philadelphia, NYC and northern NJ around Newark, I’m supposing,) are home to three of the greatest death metal bands of all time, Incantation, Suffocation and Immolation.