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OVERKILL

Current Members

Past Members

Biography

One of the most stoic and uncompromising Thrash Metal bands on the circuit, OVERKILL was formed in New Providence, New Jersey during 1981 by drummer Rat Skates (a.k.a. Lee Kundrat) and bassist Carlos 'D.D.' Verni after the pair had left the Hardcore Punk outfit LUBRICUNTS. OVERKILL's original incarnation was completed by ex-D.O.A. vocalist Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth and guitarist Dan Spitz. A second guitarist, Rich Conte, was inducted and this newly established quintet began gigging locally with a mainly cover dominated set. Spitz exited to team up with ANTHRAX and during 1983 former THE DROPOUTS man Bobby Gustafson joined the existing trio of Elsworth, Verni and Skates in time to lay down the 'Power In Black' demo. A five track blast of undiluted Metal the tape comprised 'Overkill', 'The Beast Within', 'There's No Tomorrow', 'Death Riders' and 'Raise The Dead'. As a statement of intent, OVERKILL's dedication "To all the false faggot poser wimps of the clubs. Stick this tape up your ass" made their purpose clear.

By1984 exposure generated by the demo led to an appearance of 'Feel The Fire' on Metal Blade's 'Metal Massacre V' compilation and the 'Death Rider' track included on the 'New York Metal '84' collection. Ever the opportunists, Azra Records signed the group for the release of the four track 'Overkill' EP in July 1985 before Jonny Z's Megaforce label snapped OVERKILL up for the band's full blown debut album, 1985's 'Feel The Fire' produced by Carl Canedy, drummer with THE RODS, released towards the end of the year.

Johnny Z had been a fan of OVERKILL since the release of the 'Power In Black' demo. He sold 1,500 copies of it through his New Jersey based record store Rock n' Roll Heaven' alone. The band were signed after seeing them open for ANVIL at the L'Amours club in Brooklyn, New York. Now with an album behind them, OVERKILL set about breaking out of the New York circuit, conducting nationwide concerts with MEGADETH.

The quartet arrived in Europe during the first half of 1986 opening for label mates ANTHRAX, although they were not on the bill of the British show ANTHRAX performed at the Hammersmith Palais, having already returned to the States. OVERKILL did, however, return to Europe later in the year opening for SLAYER.

The group's status rose sharply in the United States with 1987's Alex Perialis produced Taking Over album as Megaforce product was now marketed and distributed through Atlantic Records. OVERKILL even managed to force their way onto MTV screens courtesy of a video clip for the track 'In Union We Stand'. Back on European soil, OVERKILL provided backing for Helloween's tour dates. Their presence was maintained on the market with an EP release less than subtly titled 'Fuck You!', headed up by a D.O.A. cover version and bolstered by live tracks captured on tape in Cleveland. The foursome was dealt a heavy blow though when Rat Skates, a prime driving force, relinquished his position. OVERKILL persevered, drawing in substitute Mark Archibole for a few gigs before locating Sid Falck, previously of Paul Dianno's BATTLEZONE, as a permanent addition.

Although Alex Perialis reprised his role at the desk, Michael Wagener took on the mixing role for 1988's 'Under The Influence'. Opting for a change, Terry Date would handle the sonics on 1989's 'The Years Of Decay'. Musically, this record was marked by an almost epic nine minute title track whilst the punchy 'Elimination' was chosen for the video treatment. US touring, billed the "Dawn Of The Decade" dates, had Overkill packaged with TESTAMENT.

1991's 'Horrorscope', produced again by Terry Date and which included a radical re-work of EDGAR WINTER's 'Frankenstein', was to see the band in a new guise. Internal disputes had prompted the Gustafson's departure prior to recording and to plug the gap OVERKILL pulled in former FAITH OR FEAR man Merritt Gant and their erstwhile guitar technician Rob Cannavino. Meantime, Gustafson joined up with SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo in a new act entitled GRIP INC. but his tenure would be brief. The ex-guitarist also turned up as a session player on the solitary CYCLE SLUTS FROM HELL album. OVERKILL played a brace of concerts in Mexico during August 1991 supported by MAKINA, BLACK THORN, LEPROSSY and DARKNESS. The band returned to Mexico to play a brace of back to back gigs in May 1992 supported by MAKINA and TRANSMETAL.

In the midst of touring to push 'Horrorscope', Sid Falck left the band and was superseded by M.O.D. drummer Tim Mallare. OVERKILL returned in 1993 with 'I Hear Black'. Whilst not ever falling below the metal delineator, 'I Hear Black', produced by Alex Perialis and engineered by RAVEN drummer Rob Hunter, did provide the band room to experiment. 'Spiritual Void' was picked for a video and concerts across Europe had OVERKILL sharing stages with SAVATAGE and NON-FICTION.

'W.F.O.', (“Wide Fuckin' Open”) recorded at the Ambient Recording Company in Stamford, Connecticut during the spring of 1994, signalled Overkill's final output for Atlantic Records. With this set of tracks the group reverted to their formative years and pumped out acerbic, unrelenting thrash. 'W.F.O.' hosted an unaccredited track entitled 'Gasoline Dream' to close out. Marketing the record was given weight by a video clip for 'Fast Junkie' and North American road work backed by JAG PANZER and MASSACRA. 'W.F.O.' hosted an unaccredited track entitled 'Gasoline Dream' to close out.

As the major labels rushed headlong into grunge, OVERKILL swiftly jumped ship to Tom Lipsky's CMC International label. A live double album, '10 Years Of Wrecking Your Neck' taken from a show in Cleveland, usefully documented the band's career to date. Initial copies hosted the long out of print 'Overkill' EP material.

OVERKILL endured a further structural challenge in 1995 as Gant withdrew into family life, later forging BLOOD AUDIO, and Cannavino swapped his guitar for the lure of motorbike racing. By the 1996 album 'The Killing Kind', OVERKILL had found themselves, due to a combination of tenacity and dogfasted refusal to compromise musically, with a huge cult following in Germany. The band now comprised Blitz, Verni and Mallare joined by guitarists Sebastian Marino and Joe Comeau. Whilst the former held six-string experience with Canadian heavyweights ANVIL, Comeau was more of a surprise, known previously not for his guitar work but as lead singer with LIEGE LORD.

'The Killing Kind' album, mixed by Chris Tsangarides, garnered numerous 'album of the month' credits selling well enough for the band to undertake extensive headlining German tours, firstly in February backed by ACCUSSER and MEGORA and again in November with ANVIL and German Hardcore band STAHLHAMMER as running mates. Ellsworth also found time in 1996 to produce a promo CD for New Jersey act DIRT CHURCH and another outside excursion had Overkill putting their distinctive stamp onto a take of JUDAS PRIEST's 'Tyrant' for the Century Media tribute collection Legends Of Metal - A Tribute To Judas Priest.

September 1997's 'From The Underground And Below' caught OVERKILL shifting gear and delivering the most ferocious record of their catalogue to date. The band's innovative approach towards incorporating low end groove into their material re-ignited interest in the band and woud also directly influence other acts of the same ilk. . In May 1998 OVERKILL united with NEVERMORE, JAG PANZER and ANGEL DUST for a trek across continental Europe.

With a high impact album to promote in the USA, the band was forced to break their hectic schedule when it was learned that Bobby Blitz was suffering from a strain of facial cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. The singer thankfully made a full recovery and used this enforced period of introspection to flavour the lyrics of the band's next studio opus 'Necroshine', issued in February 1999. Marino backed out to have his position taken by Dave Linsk (a.k.a. David Polinski) of New Jersey's ANGER ON ANGER. 'Necroshine' was given vent in the live scenario with a short burst of German dates and appearances at the 'Full Force' festival and Dutch 'Dynamo' events.

Later that same year found OVERKILL treading a well worn path issuing an album of covers, dubbed 'Coverkill', the band offering their interpretations of tracks by BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, KISS,DEEP PURPLE and naturally MOTORHEAD's 'Overkill'. It would come as a surprise to those familiar with their music that no less than three BLACK SABBATH songs were rendered, 'Changes', 'Never Say Die' and 'Cornucopia'. Many of these tracks had been vaulted over an expanse of time, allowing the group to put down a few new recordings to have an album length product.

Throughout February 2000 OVERKILL set about laying waste to Europe once again as part of a package billing with Canadian thrashers ANNIHILATOR and Germany's DEW-SCENTED. Joe Comeau subsequently exited and joined former tour mates ANNIHILATOR. Two ex-OVERKILL men, Comeau and guitarist Sebastian Marino, would make their presence felt at the August 2000 'Wacken Open Air' festival participating in a one off LIEGE LORD reunion gig.

Now back into the rhythm, OVERKILL crafted the 2000 'Bloodletting' album as a self-production at Carriage House Studios in Stamford that summer. OVERKILL, with Joe Comeau assuming his former position as a fill-in, toured Germany in November 2000 supporting HALFORD. The unit shifted shape again towards the close of this tour as Verni was attending his pregnant wife. Enlisted was Derek Tailer of DEE SNIDER's SICKMUTHAFUCKERS. The band would put in a short burst of dates in America during late November 2001 packaged with NEVERMORE.

The 2002 line-up of OVERKILL comprised of Elsworth, Verni, Derek Tailer now on guitar, second guitarist Dave Linsk and drummer Tim Mallare. This unit cut recordings for a live DVD and album project, 'Wrecking Everything', at New Jersey's Asbury Park in March. OVERKILL headline shows in Europe during June of 2002 would see BLAZE and WICKED MYSTIC as opening acts. However, Elsworth collapsed onstage during the band's set in Nürnberg, Germany on June 27th. Apparently the singer had suffered a minor stroke but would soon make a recovery.

In January 2003 OVERKILL members guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer and drummer Tim Mallare, together with ANGER ON ANGER singer Mario, combined their talents in a brand new "old school" Thrash project band SPEEDKILL/HATE. Meantime, former OVERKILL guitarist Bobby Gustafson resurfaced in a the South Florida based band RESPONSE NEGATIVE.

The band's March 2003 album, 'Killbox 13', was notable for its delegation of desk duties to Colin Richardson, breaking a long tradition of self-production. OVERKILL toured Europe in November of 2003 with support from SEVEN WITCHES and Belgian Hardcore mongers AFTER ALL. The band allied themselves with TESTAMENT, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM and DEATH ANGEL for a 'Thrash Domination 04' Japanese tour in September of 2004. Bobby Blitz also made time to act as session guest of former HADES man DAN LORENZO's solo album of that year 'Nice Being Alone'. OVERKILL signed with Sweden's Regain Records in October to record new offering 'Relix IV'. On the 29th of that month the band put on a special show for DJ Eddie Trunk's annual Halloween party at The Hard Rock Café in New York City. For this gig DREAM THEATER man Mike Portnoy stood in on the drums. For the group's European gigs in May OVERKILL drafted former HADES and HAVOCHATE drummer Ron Lipnicki. The band's showing at the major 'Sweden Rock' festival in June saw DREAM THEATER's Mike Portnoy for the song 'Elimination'. OVERKILL then egaged in US touring, although September shows in Houston and Corpus Christi would be cancelled due to Hurricane Rita.

In February 2006 ex-OVERKILL man Joe Comeau joined Swedish Metal band TAD MOROSE as their new frontman. Another OVERKILL related project came to fruition in August as Ellsworth announced THE CURSED, a side union with ex-HADES and NON-FICTION guitarist DAN LORENZO, bassist Job the Raver from MURDER 1 and former NON-FICTION drummer Mike Cristi. This act swiftly announced a deal with Screaming Ferret Wreckords.

OVERKILL joined up with the MEGADETH headlined 'Gigantour' North American festivals in early September, sharing billing with OPETH, ARCH ENEMY, LAMB OF GOD, INTO ETERNITY, SANCTITY and THE SMASHUP.

OVERKILL's second DVD, 'Live at Wacken Open Air 2007', came out in February 2008 via Bodog Music.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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