From the first time I heard the thrash metal anthem “Hello from the Gutter,” off of the 1988 album Under the Influence, I was hooked on Overkill. Then came “Elimination” and “Time to Kill” and “Horrorscope,” and you get the idea. The New Jersey band formed at the same time as other bands in the United States, from coast to coast, and around the world, were creating the new, chaotic subgenre devoid of rules and against the grain of what was considered heavy metal at the time. It would come to be known as thrash metal. With a notable winged-skull mascot named “Chaly,” and releases like The Years of Decay (1989), Horrorscope (1991) and I Hear Black (1993), the band was a regular on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, toured and became known all over the world. There’s even a strong sentiment among fans and metal purists that the “Big Four” should be expanded to include the likes of Overkill, Testament, Exodus, and others. Yes, Overkill is that important, and, in other words, they can be considered living legends. Throughout the turbulent metal scene in the ’90s, the band continued to crank out albums, and kept going strong in the 2000s.
That leads us to the present, when Overkill is about to release its 18th album. The Grinding Wheel is as heavy as it is diverse and dangerously fun. Members have come and gone, but the instantly recognizable voice of the band, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, remains. Blitz recently called in to say hello from the gutter, talk about the new album and Overkill’s three decades of thrash metal with Live Metal’s Jeff Maki. (more…)