Feel the Fire
A cornerstone of East Coast thrash, Overkill’s 1985 debut is as thrilling now as it was then. Released on the seminal indie label Megaforce, Feel the Fire came out at a time when American speed metal was but a nascent subculture, centered mostly on the West Coast. Overkill changed all that. While the band reflected the influence of British groups like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, what set it apart was its tie to hardcore punk; Overkill came out of the same New Jersey hardcore scene that produced The Misfits. The terrorizing attacks of “Rotten to the Core” and “Sonic Reducer”—the latter a cover of the signature song by CBGB mainstays Dead Boys—have as much punk DNA as they do metal. While guitarist Bobby Gustafson and drummer Rat Skates converted punk into metal on songs like “There’s No Tomorrow,” it's vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth who really pushed the group’s sound toward the marauding heroics of speed metal. The little yelps and exhortations that punctuate his vocal lines are just one example of his heroic energy, which whips the surface of the music like a tornado over the water.