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Most great albums are judged by how much influence they've exercised over subsequent offerings by other bands, but this standard becomes quite dicey when a great album comes in just before the end of an era where a completely different road is taken. These are the releases that are heralded mostly for being powerful works unto themselves, though often times they tend to set a precedent by which the same band will tend to refer back to when the tempest of change rears its ugly head. Thus is the story of Overkill's near universally praised and, rightfully so, 5th studio offering "Horrorscope", an album that came to define most of what would happen on further excursions into the dark and dreary world of 90s thrash metal, one that would prove to be less of a liability for these New Yorkers in terms of quality output when set alongside fellow thrashers Anthrax and all the important names in the Bay Area.
Occurring in the recent aftermath of longtime guitarist Bobby Gustafson jumping ship, this album takes a surprising route by keeping a general stylistic consistency with previous albums, but also taking great care not to sound like a collection of recycled ideas from "The Years Of Decay". The entry of Gant and Cannavino to the fold leaves the band with a denser atmosphere which tends to exploit the dueling soloist approach in a manner slightly reminiscent of those heard on "Rust In Peace", but scaled back significantly in scope. But the biggest change heard on here, and one that would prove to continually impact the band's sound up until "Ironbound" is the higher prominence of the bass in the mix, to the point of introducing something along the lines of a Peter Steele meets Joey Demaio sound, though not quite as flashy as the latter or effects drenched as the former.
It is often pointed out that atmosphere plays a heavy part in the shaping of this album's sound, but it should be noted that the usage of creepy quiet intros and interludes is only slightly greater than what occurred on "The Years Of Decay", and that the bulk of this album is on the upper echelon of the scale of early 90s thrash bludgeoning. The intro to the opening bruiser "Coma" fits the name of the song quite well with a haunting clean guitar line that reminds heavily of a number of atmospheric intros out of the Testament and early Annihilator model, though what follows is more akin to a upper mid-paced nightmare world with a riff set powerful enough to ruin even the astral projection of a spinal column. "Bare Bones" takes it a step further with a "Halloween" inspired piano intro followed by something very similar to the beginning of Helloween's song by the same name, but soon finds itself in ripping high tempo territory with a riff set massive enough to rival "Time Does Not Heal".
Having said all of this, most of the songs on here have a clearer separation of style and tend to embody a lot of the elements found on the two previous albums. Most of them come in the form of either outright fast and furious cruisers after the mold of Metallica's "Dyer's Eve", such as the riff monster "Live Young, Die Free" (which has a chorus riff that sounds very similar to the one that Iced Earth used soon after on the title song of "Night Of The Stormrider"), or slightly more moderated punchers like "Infectious" and "Blood Money", each one serving as templates of a familiar formula that would recur on a number of songs from "W.F.O." up till and including "Killbox 13". At the same time, the doom metal trudging of the title song with its Type O Negative sounding bass intro (2 years before the seminal "Bloody Kisses" was released no less) can't help but dredge up recent memories of "Skullcrusher", while the closing ballad "Solitude" lives up to the name in terms of its sadness and fatalism, and definitely reminds of the previous album's equally somber title song.
It's impossible to fully comprehend the significance of this album without making at least a short reference to the elephant in the room that often causes people to dismiss much of the thrash metal that came out post-1990, namely the groove metal craze that was kicked off by Metallica and Pantera. Like all new styles, the albums that first pushed the idea tend to be better than what follows, but in contrast to the output of many bands at this point, save a few holdouts like Evildead, Cyclone Temple and a few others, this doesn't really contain anything resembling either "The Black Album" or "Cowboys From Hell". It is a fully faithful stylistic rendition of the late 80s character of the style, and a lasting testament to the jarring nature of the stylistic transition that took place on "I Hear Black". And yet, at the same time, this album has come to define Overkill's sound since the close of the 80s, even in the case of their latest 2 albums "Ironbound" and "The Electric Age". This is not quite Overkill's finest hour in all respects, but it can be seen as an archetype, for what it's worth.
Thrash metal has always been a topic that provokes much dispute. Many claim it peaked in the mid 80's, whereas some would say it was the late 80's and even as far as 1990, with releases such as Rust In Peace and Seasons In The Abyss and Cowboys From Hell. Following this, for the most part thrash fell off the radar and crashed and burnt. History has told us that thrash was gone following 1990. Just one year later, Overkill made their reply, and it was as follows- "History can suck a chode", for in 1991 they released an absolute titan of an album entitled Horrorscope.
Horrorscope is a fifty three minute long release that packs in eleven fantastic songs that showcase a huge range of speeds and are all downright fun. Overkill have always been a band with their own signature sound, mainly characterized by Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth roaring his lungs out in his signature high pitched shrieking voice. This album came directly off the back of the masterclass of thrash metal that was The Years Of Decay, and many a band would crumble under the pressure of trying to follow on from an album such as that. Overkill said "fuck pressure", and released their highest selling release, not to mention one of their best albums to date. This is thrash metal as good as you could ask for.
As soon as you listen to this record and hear that beautifully melodic introduction to Coma you would be forgiven for thinking that Overkill has released something a little different for once. Where is the crushing opening that was found in The Years Of Decay? In it's place Overkill has delivered a seventy two second intro, but then suddenly in comes the speed. From here on out it is a riff fest of a song with some fast paced riffing and even a little groove found towards the middle of the song, with a much slower paced riff before the solo comes in and sounds amazing. The guitar work from Merritt Grant and Rob Cannavino is almost flawless on this release, with them throwing in a huge variety of riffs throughout that never fail to keep the listener entertained. There are fast riffs that launch forward full speed ahead, slower riffs that absolutely crush all in their path, and solos that shred your face off. The outro to Coma in particularly shows off the addition of a groove styling to the album.
Infectious is a lightning fast thrasher that stands out as one of the best on the album with some crazily well written riffs, but the best song on the album is Bare Bones. This starts off with a beautifully melodic piece of keyboard work that could not have worked better among the crushing guitar work that comes in alongside it. This is a song that has a lot of variety in its riff set when it picks up, and one of Bobby's best vocal performances on the album. This album shows off an even more powerful Bobby Blitz, who uses a slightly lower style of singing instead of the juvenile shrieking that carried songs such as Elimination off of The Years Of Decay. The drumming is the most complex performance of any Overkill album out of the ones that had been released before this, with some crazy double bass work found on songs like Bare Bones, and a nice performance also found on Nice Day... For A Funeral.
The only real problem that can be found with this album is that the production on it is rather bad when compared to The Years Of Decay. The bass drum is far too loud in the mix, and the snare has a horrible tone to it, and the level of crunch on the guitars makes them sound repetitive at times. Bobby's voice is also a little too loud in the mix to the point that he is overbearing among the other instruments. Aside from this, however, this is a fantastic release, and is Overkill putting two fingers up to everyone who claimed thrash was dead after 1990. Listen to Bare Bones for an indication as to how this album sounds, and then buy it and love it.
Originally written for SputnikMusic
So long 1980's, hello 90's. As the world of heavy metal slowly but surely folded in on itself, a few bands escaped into the new decade relatively unscathed, like Judas Priest with "Painkiller" or Megadeth with "Rust In Peace". East Coast outfit Overkill made it look pretty easy too, especially after an accomplishment like "Years Of Decay" and the unfortunate dismissal of guitarist Bobby Gustafson. Even still, never a band to stop at anything, Overkill took to the new decade like it was any other, and let loose their 5th studio album "Horrorscope". While this one has a number of forgettable tracks like its two predecessors, the stronger stuff keeps the album floating overall.
The production always kind of rubbed me the wrong way on here. Bobby Blitz's vocals are mixed too low in my opinion, and the bass isn't as noticeable as it could be either. The guitars are fine however, but the drumming can be quite a bit too loud too often. What is it with that Sid Falck anyway? Did he just not like not having his drumming noticed? I mean, his work on here is the best yet, with loads of fast, very precise hammering and amazingly quick kick-drumming, but I mean really! DD Verni's bass is more understated like I said, but higher than the usual metal record; his work is almost always appreciated and adds some nice layers the the overall sound. Bobby Blitz still kills, practically carrying the album like often does with his screaming, raspy charisma, though on here he adds a sense of mood and dread to his voice and utilizes actual singing quite a bit. Replacing Mr Gustafson is the duo of Rob Cannavino and Merritt Gant. Even these two guitarists together can't replace the immense soloing and memorable riffwork of Bobby; as such though their guitarisms are considerably more simple, their work doesn't change the overall sound of the music and it's still readily recognizable as Overkill.
The sense of mood notable on "The Years of Decay" is even greater on here; this probably one the group's most atmosphere-driven albums their discography. Unfortunately the amount of songs on here that don't click is even greater too. You'd think we'd expect better from Overkill at this point. We've got "New Machine", which is sort of a boring, groovish, generic song with nothing too special going for it. The odd 'Bare Bones" is more aggressive but equally unmemorable, and hampered further by a weak chorus and a really odd intro permeated by a piano riff. "Blood Money" is another speeder, but again fails to do much for me personally thanks again to an uninteresting chorus and not-so-special riffage. I'm sure I might get some flack for this, but I don't really like "Live Young, Die Free" either. Yeah, aside from a pretty good solo, it just passes without very memorable riffs or even that great of a Bobby Blitz performance.
Well, what does the great Metal_Jaw think is SOOO special on this album then, hmmm? Well, opener "Coma" is pretty wicked, a thrashy speeder accompanied by a spooky intro, a searing, evil guitar solo and some of Blitz's more unhinged vocal work. The groovish, heavy speeder "Thanx For Nothing" is quite cool as well, though the solo goes on a bit too long. The title track is a classic, bludgeoning its way into the listener's puny mortal psyche with its brutal, mid-paced mosh riffs and a number of moody little solos and breaks. Also of note is "Infectious", a neat number that mixes speed metal and mid-paced aesthetics to make a pretty cool-sounding song, though leaning a bit more towards the latter. The tense, evil "Nice Day...For A Funeral" is decent enough, but leads via an atmospheric segway into the closer "Soulitude", an utterly fantastic thrash ballad and probably one of the group's most underrated songs.
Overall, "Horrorscope" is hampered down somewhat by the new guys, an iffy production and a few throwaway songs. At the end of the day though it still is one of the band's better efforts; there are some pretty strong, classic cuts on here (namely the title track, "Coma" and "Soulitude"), and of course Blitz and DD never stop rocking. Enjoy "Horrorscope" for what it is; it's also often considered to be the group's last solid album for a long while at this point in time. After this one, Overkill began to slip away, as a number of good bands at this time did, into the much-despised alternative metal camp: they went to groove...
The loss of Gustafson could have easily sounded the death knell for Overkill, as he wrote the majority of the classic The Years of Decay and embodied a large chunk of their creative unit. The band scrambled and improvised, recruiting Gustafson's guitar tech, Rob Cannavino along with seemingly unknown Merritt Gant. This beefed up the band's lineup with two unique, skilled guitarists; a coup that Verni was attempting to pull on Gustafson for some time before his departure. Despite well-placed uncertainty, after all of the smoke cleared, we were given Overkill's greatest album: Horrorscope.
Verni claims that starting on this album he writes all of the music with minimal input from the rest of the lineup. This obviously wasn't the case when Gustafson was present, and a drastic shift in the band's sound is obviously reflected here. The riffing style on Horrorscope is slower than on any of it's elder siblings, but it takes advantage of this more deliberate, atypical approach with a number of groovy, crushing bulldozer-like cuts in "New Machine", "Nice Day...For a Funeral", and the title track. Overkill would later receive mixed opinions toward their infusion of groove elements, but it comes off as novel here. That's not to say that there is a lack of speed, as the opener "Coma" and "Live Young, Die Free" exhibit a blistering riff set, especially the section right after the solo on the latter. The remaining songs, save for the atmospheric, mid-paced closer "Soulitude" embody a best-of-both-worlds approach, fusing absolutely crushing riffs with Ellsworth's manic inflection.
The vocals are second only to the riffs in quality, as this is without a doubt Ellsworth's best vocal performance of all time, with Taking Over being a very close second. He totally drops his earlier operatic intonation for a gritty, dark performance that beats out even The Years of Decay in memorability. His approach is most impressively showcased on the mid-paced classic "New Machine", as Ellsworth roars "Nailed to the cross by just words, crucifixion complete!" with the chugging, ascending main riff leaving destruction in it's wake behind him. The song gathers some speed about halfway through with the requisite thrash break, embodying all of Horrorscope's best qualities condensed into one single track. The only real deviation in Ellsworth's delivery is on the emotional closer "Soulitude", in which his inflection cleans up a bit as per the song's atmosphere. This track deserves it's own special mention, as the doomy bass riff that makes up the bulk of the track is just incredible, especially the way the previous track "Nice Day...for A Funeral" fades into it. The best solos are also present here, making it the definitive closer to a near-flawless album.
Falck's swansong with the group is also by far his best performance. Terry Date brings the best out of the Overkill formula with an unbelievably dry, snappy drum mix that adds to the neck-jerking mayhem even more. I'm not one to gush often, but this has to be the best produced drum performance I have ever heard on a thrash album. There are quick tom rolls and more surging double-bass than on any of the group's earlier material, giving the rhythm section a stronger backbone than ever. Verni's popping, clangy bass isn't as prominent as usual, but still present enough to add to the dark atmosphere being conveyed here. I feel that if the bass was too prominent it would take the spotlight away from the six-string theatrics, which in this case would be a shame.
Every track on here is a classic save for two. "Bare Bones" has never sat quite right with me. The overlong piano intro already puts added pressure on the track to deliver, but it ends up sounding like a dumping ground for the ideas that couldn't or wouldn't fit elsewhere. "Frankenstein" is a cool, well done cover but feels unnecessary on the whole and ends up interrupting Horrorscope's amazing second half. I'm not even kidding, the last half of this album save for "Frankenstein" is Overkill's finest hour.
While many agree with me, I can still find more that consider The Years of Decay the band's best work. My rebuttal? Next time THINK before you SPEAK. Thanks for nothin'.
As I was preparing these past few weeks to forge through my Overkill CD collection chronologically, it dawned on me that The Years of Decay was some sort of psychic cut-off point, and that its successor Horrorscope was the first of the band's studio full-lengths that I really struggled to remember, a trait that effectively mirrors the quality of the songwriting here. It's not that this is a 'bad' effort, by any means, but apart from the flaming orange mutation of the logo and the Edgar Winter cover ("Frankenstein"), this has always struck me as a painfully average thrash record which fails to provide the incendiary architecture of the band's biggest hits. Granted, I felt that they were on a steady if slight decline for the few records leading to this from Taking Over, but even then there were songs like "Elimination" and "Hello the Gutter" which stood out. When asked to name an equivocal piece on Horrorscope, I'm afraid I draw blanks, even after revisiting the album several times...
It may or may not have something to do with the fact that this is the first post-Gustafson Overkill album, the band's formative and formidable axeman having left the group in 1990 due to tension in the ranks (there are various sides to the story). Apparently D.D. Verni and Bobby Ellsworth had been pining for years to bulk up to two guitar players, so here was their opportunity, recruiting Rob Cannavino and Merritt Gant, two guys that seemed to have visualized out of thin air, but fit Overkill's modus operandi accordingly with taut and blistering rhythm and lead techniques. In fact, the one aspect in which I feel Horrorscope does actually dominate its predecessor is in the sheer production, which for me seems a little less over polished while retaining the punch and modernity the band were teasing with Years. Quite probably the byproduct of working with Terry Date this time out instead of Alex Perialas. The drums still feel aggressive, snappy and clean, Falck matching his prior performances, but the vocals, bass and guitar seem to be better unified into one pulverizing whole, and the album benefits from its explosive balance.
Unfortunately, so many of the songs here fail to provoke the same violent and impish nature of their forebears from Taking Over and Feel the Fire. The style here is still largely speed/thrash, with a few passing nods to the doom they had flirted with on "The Answer" or "Skullkrusher", so they deserve some credit for keeping it real when even Metallica was starting to shift climates with The Black Album, but this doesn't necessarily translate into quality riffs and vocal lines, both of which are absent from the majority of Horrorscope. It might just be that I'm not feeling D.D. Verni's writing. Both the production and business of the guitar riffs in songs like "Blood Money" felt somewhat similar to Pantera's seminal Cowboys from Hell. The obviously horror influenced intros a song like "Bare Bones" (with the piano) felt like bland John Carpenter worship, while the clean guitar that leads off the album on "Coma" reminds me of Anthrax for some reason.
The band wasn't lacking for pure headbanging frills here. "Blood Money", "Thanks for Nothing" and "New Machine" all scratch that itch to some extent, while tunes like "Nice Day...for a Funeral" or the escalating power ballad "Soulitude" have slower, moodier moments which maintain the level of variation from The Years of Decay. But nothing sticks. The vocal lines don't seem nearly as scathing or interestingly pitched as on prior efforts, and the leads all zip into one ear and out another faster than I can remember them. I thought the "Frankenstein" cover was burning and robust enough to do the original service, but then it's little more than a metal injection to an already rocking song, and thus the aggression doesn't even feel all that dialed up even with the chugging mid-paced thrash break that arrives after the first groove sequence.
All told, it's hard not to feel my old 'curse of 1991' pervade this album as it did for many others that seem to be universally well-regarded but personally uninteresting, like Arise, Human or Blessed Are the Sick, all of which likewise hailed from bands whose prior output I had loved. A curious phenomena which I've gone back to debunk and examine for decades, only to end up reinforcing my underwhelmed reaction. There's nothing inherently terrible about Horroscope, it's a competent and dynamic enough successor to The Years of Decay, but it seems further molded towards mediocrity, and there just aren't any exciting rhythm guitars or chorus bits that inspire the violence inside me as "Rotten to the Core", "Fatal if Swallowed" or "Electro-Violence" always have. Yes, it's 'mature', and well produced, but neither is necessarily a mandate where it concerns myself and Overkill.
Let's get right down to business. This album is an excellent headbangin' 80's thrasher. There really isn't much too fancy to speak off on this album. The tunes are all catchy and heavy. Try as you might to not bob your head, you WILL jam out while listening to this album. This album has all the right pieces, and is undeniably a great album, they're is just a few things that hold it back from that five star excellence, but they only hold it back ever so gently.
First, the good; or should I say great? The vocals on this album are outstanding. Bobby Blitz delvers the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Every word is belted out with his trademark rasp in a way that says, 'hey Souza, you are a fucking pretender.' It just EXUDES heavy metal attitude. But while Blitz can bring the fire on thrashier songs like Infectious, Thanx for Nothin', or New Machine, he can also bring a softer, more chilling edge on songs like Horrorscope or Soulitude. Though the lyrics on this album aren't exactly Plato's Symposium, they have that type of angst that really fits the album, as well as Bobby Blitz's vocal style.
The guitars here form the backbone to the album, as well as the backbone to the reason you may shatter your backbone. Throughout the album, Gant and Cannavino deliver the grooves that make you want to mosh. The production is fantastic and it all sounds really clear. Throw in a few face melter solos, frequent enough to satiate your lust for shred, but not overdone so as to cheapen their value to the music, and you have yourself an album of excellent thrash guitar work.
The effect of the vocals and guitars being so powerful on this album, is a less noticeable drum and bass. Though don't overlook them altogether. They keep this album together, holding the rhythms and grooves in places where the guitars are just too busy. Bass is a little bit too quiet as well, but overall better then a lot of albums. The drums sound clear and heavy, no wet cardboard sound. All in all, not exactly mind blowing but great drum and bass support for the headlining guitars.
Some tracks I want to mention; Coma is an awesome opener, starting with a sweet and soft intro, leading up to the explosion that is the rest of the album. The following track, Infectious, is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head, and you end up walking around the grocery store muttering to yourself that you're a 'war time killer'. After that, we have a little bit of the same thing going on, and you end up shouting LIAAAAAAAAAR to yourself, straight of of Blood Money. My favorite song off of this is Soulitude, wit some off the best vocals I've heard, and such tender guiter melody, it makes it an epic closer.
The issue is all the other songs have minor things to them that hampers them from being great songs. Perhaps one riff goes on for too long, or the chorus is a little bit too much. Its hard to explain. Though every song on this album is a good, most of the ones past Blood Money have at least one point where I think to myself, just move on to the next track. The problems are all pretty minor, and this album is still fantastic.
So for great thrash that blends excellent vocals with grooving guitar, i give Overkill's Horrorscope an 88 out of 100 or a 4 out of 5
Well, the 90's wasn't really known for thrash metal and Overkill were never the most popular of bands. The only widely known 90's thrash metal classic is, of course, Megadeth's "Rust In Peace". There were other great efforts as well from lesser known bands that never got the attention they deserved and are not really acknowledged as classics. Overkill aren't the most obscure of bands either. Outside the 'Big 4', they're probably one of the most popular.
Overkill had some catching up to do after a pretty slow start as their first 3 albums were a little behind the times. Their first attempt to modernize their sound began with "The Years of Decay", which is very much influenced by Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets". The rhythm section was tighter, the riffs were less frantic with more emphasis on melody and lyrics. Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth even changed his vocal approach to a more suitable style. "Horrorscope" is a continuation of that trend.
The highlight of this album for me personally is the rhythm guitar playing. The riffs are fast, tight, and quite groovy. I wouldn't call this an old school thrasher. It's the post-1986 kind, if you know what I mean. Overkill aren't really the most talented of bands. The drummer is great, but won't really blow you away. Neither will the numerous guitar solos on this album; they aren't really inspiring. If there was one thing that was truly holding Overkill back from the big leagues, it's the lyrics. Honestly, I don't care and nobody ever did, but it's hard to give a damn about them. They do make up for it with attitude and loyalty though, which are both pretty remarkable qualities.
The album starts off with "Coma", the opener that's an absolutely killer track. The riffing is tight and hard-hitting. Overkill were always a hard-hitting band, but "Coma" shows a more mature, proficient side to them. Bobby's vocals also have a massive presence here, thankfully. Even though the lyrics are quite irrelevant most of the time, they're campy fun, plus the choruses and gang shouts are pretty cool. "Infectious", "Blood Money" and "Thanx For Nothin'" all have pretty fast and heavy grooves coupled with intense mid-paced, headbang-friendly mid-sections.
"Bare Bones" has a more sinister sounding intro to kick things off, serving as a change of pace from the relentless grooving of the previous three tracks. After the intro ends, it's time for some simple, pounding thrash rhythms and the guitar solo of this song is one of the better ones, having a longer lasting effect than most other songs here. "Horrorscope" emerges with some bad ass sounding heavy thrash metal riffs almost out of nowhere. There's not much in terms of variety, but I really like it. It's dark, menacing, and heavy as hell.
"New Machine" is a great song: mid-paced thrash at its best Love the great start-stop riffs that gallop forward. The thrash break at the 2 minute mark is absolutely epic and kinda reminds me of "Creeping Death". "Frankenstein" is a cool instrumental, but I think was a bit unnecessary, succeeding in doing nothing with no purpose really. "Live Young, Die Free" is the best damn thrasher on the entire album. Tthe chorus and pre-chorus parts really kill.
We finally get to the final two songs, "Nice Day" and "Soulitude", which aren't nearly as thrashy. They're more in the vein of traditional heavy metal with some thrash/doom moments and is also quite a lot more melodic. I think these two songs really add a lot to this album's strength. "Soulitude" is actually a metal ballad and they pull it off! A lot of bands fail to be convincing. As this album draws to a close, you do feel a sense of 'completeness', the hallmark of any great heavy metal album.
"Horrorscope" is one of my favorite thrash metal albums of all time. I don't even listen to metal as much these days, but this album is just too damn strong to ignore. Overkill are up there with the best, at least this album is.
How I wondered (and feared) if the band could regain consciousness and at least consolidate after the departure of main songwriter Bobby Gustafson. He wasn’t simply an employee, he wrote the bulk of their stuff. So in fact with such a change in line-up it wouldn’t be surprising if the band would start sounding too differently. And yes, they did sound different, but not too much. Not too much yet, that is. Their real identity crisis came two years later. On Horrorscope the band just continued doing what they were used to do but they couldn’t help shifting slightly.
Opener ‘Coma’ set me straight. I could start breathing again. Overkill still sounded like Overkill. The darker but thrashy vibe from The Years Of decay was still there. Good opening song with a superb chorus! The title track ‘Horrorscope’ once again showed the band’s love for doom metal just like they did on Skullcrusher but this song is shorter, compact and to the point. Great atmosphere.
The line-up change becomes most obvious on the most energetic songs on the album, ‘Blood Money’ and ‘Thanx for Nothing'. These are groovy yet fast thrash metal riffs Gustafson couldn’t have written. They got ‘crossover’ all over them yet played like this with Blitz’ voice all over they’re thrash enough for Overkill. They’re catchy and enjoyable, two highlights on the album!
The album was good. As a whole it didn’t come close to their best eighties works but it certainly had enough good songs to save the day. However from day one I did miss the compositional ingenuity of “Years Of Decay”, filled with changes in pace, key. Apart from a few individually ingenious songs, the band mostly went back to their “Under the Influence” days in terms of simple song structures. A slight devolution which makes this album a bit more lightweight compared to its predecessor and less mature.
Of all the bands people talk about when they discuss exclusions from "The Big Four", this is the one band that I always point to and say "WTF?"
Simply put, after making 4 very good to great albums, they never got the recognition they truly deserved. In light of this and in light of losing Bobby Gustafson to a long-running spat, OverKill simply found not one but two new guitarists and put out one of the greatest records the thrash genre has ever known. Of all the old school records I've come across in my recent quest to find old school records, this single album is one of the most played of the bunch simply because every song here kicks ass in its own way.
For those who remember, this album came out after Metallica's "Black Album" landed the first of three death blows to the thrash genre. It was this very album that sounded off as a response to those who questioned:
Thrash is not only not dead yet, it is more than alive and well, thanx for nuthin'!
This album is the culmination of the best of all the bands prior releases, the almost punk-like rawness of "Feel The Fire" and "Taking Over", the over the top nature of "Under The Influence" and the more progressive song structures of "The Years Of Decay". However, where one could find flaws with each release (and you could find flaws, but man you had to look really carefully), the band definitely put it all together here.
I swear if this album came out in 1986, or even 1988 instead of 1991, "The Big Four" would have been forever known as "The Big Five" (and this is no slight to "Under The Influence", a very close 2nd to this album).
Blitz gives his best performance here, mixing his newer (raspier and more raw) vocal style with the tunefulness of old, all while exhibiting a restraint that brings his over-the-top moments that much more in your face ("YER A LLLIIIIIIAAAARRRR!!!!). D.D., always one of the best bassist in a genre not known for such, definitely takes advantage of the new freedom given him by the twin guitar attack. He is more of a presence than ever and, whether he's locking in with the very underrated Sid Falck or rumbling around the guitar buzz, his work here adds a depth to the OverKill sound not heard before (or since). Rob and Merritt also account quite well for themselves with blistering riffs and solos galore.
This album is so amazing that even the cover tune they did turned out a winner. Generally, I don't care for metal bands doing cover tunes but the version of "Frankenstein" is so well suited for the OverKill sound and they nailed it and kill it ten times over. If they can do this to a cover tune, just imagine how kick ass the rest of this album is.
There are some who will tell you thrash died in 1986, and others who will tell you thrash died in '88 or '89. I'm here to tell you what OverKill told us all with this 1991 release...Thrash wasn't dead yet. This is essential listening for any thrash fan as well as anyone into the "new thrash" that wants to hear what old school thrash was all about.
I was a little confused when first hearing this album. You would expect that as a band makes more albums they would be more developed and have better production. Well, this album is great, but compared to its preceding album, The Years of Decay, it kind of sucks. The overall sound is a little less developed and clear, the solos and riffs are much weaker, and the bass does not pound like it did before. However this album is redeemed as it has good energy, powerful (but not too powerful) riffs, and consistent drumming. The bass isn’t too audible, but has some moments where it plays by itself and sounds cool.
I guess with the loss of Bobby Gustafson the guitar playing in Overkill got simpler. The solos still kick ass, but are a little more awkward and out of place. There is usually only one per song whereas before they were at every corner ready to pop out and hit you in the face. The riffs don’t have as much range and always follow the same pattern. However they fit very well with the drums. They are a little thrashier and less technical than Years of Decay riffs. It is the kind of guitar playing that is fun to play yourself as a pose to listening to. They set more of a feel than a mood.
What the heck happened to the bass? It really is simple and just plays the riffs along with the guitars, and is less audible. However in some songs it has little fills that take over and sound really cool, and has a really cool intro in Horrorscope. It has no solos and rarely do you hear it get pounded out into little cool solos. The tone is also less crunchy and clear.
The drums are pretty good on this album. Most songs start with a drum fill that is catchy and creative. Then throughout the songs they are bouncy and have good backbeats, and stay constant with the beats and changes.
A very redeeming quality of this album is the vocals. Most angry and less poetic lyrics are pretty annoying, but these lyrics are pretty cool. Bobby has a very interesting voice, and it sounds very expressive. A good example is the song New Machine, the vocals just rest on top of the riffs in a very clever fashion, and Bobby knows how to build up intensity and meet changes correctly.
The best three songs in my opinion are New Machine, Thanx for nothin, Live Young, Die Free. All are very high energy songs and Live Young, Die Free has a cool solo. New Machine is just a good headbang song with an intense groove, and thanx for nothin is catchy and upbeat.
Overall this album still has the awesome Overkill sound, but the guitar playing is less creative, and the production is for some reason worse than previous releases. Still, it is a worthy album and a must have for Overkill fans.
Alright, I'm going to take a lot more time then usual with this review, because Overkill is not only one of the top Thrash bands of all time, it's probably the one I listen to the most and whose albums I know the best.
The majority of Overkill that I listen to is newer material, pretty much The Killing Kind and on. I had heard the title track Horrorscope before, but I had never listened to the entire CD, and let me tell you, when I got it, and played it, I was blown away. And it really set things into perspective, I was of the opinion that The Killing Kind and W.F.O were really good Overkill albums, now after hearing Horrorscope, I admit those two albums are inferior to this one, and represent a short period where Overkill didn't Thrash as hard (up until Necroshine.
The title track Coma starts out with an instrumental section which is really cool, and it builds up a suspense which explodes once the Thrash begins. The drumming and the riffs are simply great, it's a great way to start off the album, and Coma has definately become one of my favourite 'Kill songs. I still can't believe this was released in 1991, sounds like it should have been on Bloodletting, the definite "heavier" Overkill album of the 90s (it was released in 2000 but you know what I mean).
The next track: Infectious starts off with a great drumming section, the guitar is heavy and fast, Blitz sounds great, the middle of the song, the transition part is a little bit weaker, but then the second half of the song turns out to be great, not to mention the solo sounds awesome.
Blood Money starts off much the same as the previous track, good drumming, riff, straight to business, but it turns out to be vastly superior, it just sounds better. Stuff turns out to be fast and killer. This is a really really good song.
Thanks for Nothing keeps up the trend, once again, another damn killer track. I don't really have much to say, Horrorscope is already turning out to be a lot better then the next few and last few Overkill albums, it"s heavy and fast. D.D Verni plays like a beast on this track.
Bare bones starts out with the piano intro, the riff on this is really catchy, sounds like a wave. The drumming kicks ass.
The title track... it's much slower and darker, I think it sounds great, but it just doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the album as well.
New Machine is a slower track, it's good, not on par with Coma and the rest though.
The instrumental track Frankenstein is fucking great, it doesn't sound like Overkill material though and it doesn't tie in with the dark melody of the album, but it's great to listen to.
Ah, Track 09 - Live Young, Die Free. What a great intro, it's slower then the earlier songs, but it's as heavy.
Nice Day For A Funeral is definately the heaviest song on the second half of the album, it really fucking thrashes. Special note : three minutes into the song there's amazing transition guitar work that is joined by the drums after a bit, it's thrashtastic.
Soulitude is a great slow starting song that closes off the album quite nicely.
Well normally I'd end after breaking down the album song by song. But I think there's something that has to be said for Horrorscope, it's a lot heavier sounding then the a lot of Overkill albums, Bloodletting, Killbox and Relix are the heavier albums I can think of and Horrorscope definately joins them, probably topping Killbox in terms of heaviness.
This is definately a peak for Overkill, their best album up to that point, and maybe even their best album ever. (Although I gotta say I'm a massive fan of Killbox and Relix, which everyone here seem to look down on, due to groove issues...)
Whether or not Overkill were instrumental in the birth of thrash metal I leave up to the reader but I will say one thing. Overkill were one of the best thrash bands at the time because they were able to consistently create top notch thrash material without comprimising integrity or disinteresting their fanbase with unoriginal material. Horrorscope is no exception of course I would be willing to say it was their shining moment. The guitar riffs are thrashing and pounding your ass into the ground with full force, the vocals are ferocious yet not overly while the rhythm section provides a solid foundation(shocking).
Coma starts with a hypnotizing acoustic section which only strengthens the anticipation for the initial thrash onslaught. Which turns out to be a wet dream for anyone ponders the ways of thrash. Bobby Blitz's vocals are introduced are somewhat of an acquired taste and although gruff at times he does it in a fashion that makes it more listenable than many death-thrash acts. Infectious starts with a guitar riff that will get your head banging in no time. Overkill prove once again in this song that they can alternate from relentless thrash riffage to mid-paced heavy metal material and not coming off sounding like Master of Puppets kiddy thrash. The vocals are solid while the guitar solo's shred without any regard for anything that even slightly resembles what is good and holy. The way thrash should be! Blood Money is ripping from the get go and sports possibly one of the most memorable vocal performances of the album. The piano intro(with sabbath background riff) to Bare Bones is another notable inclusion to this album.
It might not be as dark as Black Sabbath but its pretty damn close. Being experts they are, proceed to pick up the pace and start raising instrumental hell and vocal chaos soon after. Moshing muted rhythm guitar goodness, excellent lead guitar I'll let you be the judge. Horrorscope is very aptly named as this sounds much more heavy-sludge metal based but has some really crunchy, heavy as hell riffage. Easily one of the darker tracks of the album. Live Young Die Free is a thrash classic and one of the few fast thrashers on the last half of the album.
I would recommend this to practically anyone looking to thrash metal as well as people who are new to Overkill. This is as good of a place to start as any. This might not be at the same level as Bonded By Blood among very few others but still remains one of the top thrash albums and arguably a staple for the entire genre. Essential buy for thrashers.
Favorites : Coma, Bare Bones, Live young Die Free
How to start this review? I'll begin with saying that in my book, this ranks as the best Thrash Metal album of all time, split with Exodus' "Bonded By Blood", "Horrorscope" possibly even being a little better. A merciless thrash onslaught with the best riff Overkill ever pounded out, and that's alot, Overkill definitely having mastered the art of owning you in the riffage section.
"Horrorscope" is pretty similar to "The Years of Decay" which came just two years before it, but here the songwriting is completely perfected, and this one sounds quite a bit more brutal thanks mainly to the more drum-heavy production and monstrous guitar tone. Sid Falck behind the drum kit puts the double pass pedal to more use, giving us lots of crushing stuff in the vein of the chorus drumming of "Birth of Tension" from "The Years of Decay", which was some heavy-ass shit.
The riffwork on here is also quite superior to their previous releases, somewhat harking back towards slightly less technical riffs of "Under The Influence" and "The Years of Decay" and some more "Taking Over"-style classic straightforward riffage, only better. At every point of this thrasher there's a fucking solid riff going on all the time, constantly owning you. The riffwork is among the most consistent in thrash, never being any less than fucking awesome.
And the main members of the band shine as usual. The bass of D.D. Verni is slightly less prominent than on the previous release, but still works perfectly with the overall sound on the album, which is somewhat clearer than on that one. Also, we get some fucking vicious highlighting on his work, like at 3:30 in "Blood Money" or about 1:45 into "Thanx For Nothin' ", two of the greatest, fastest songs on here.
Then we have ever-awesome vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, who does one of his best performances on here. Using the two songs I just mentioned as examples - holy fuck, does he sound pissed. "You never THINK! Before you SPEEEEEAK!" And he does those insane shrieks better than just about every other vocalist in the thrash genre, and some clear high-pitched singing too, like the soaring "Blood Money" chorus.
But let's also not forget the emotional value of his voice- The ballad closer "Soulitude", he shows some pure emotion. Especially the very ending, he sings the chorus over and over again, and it's so powerful. It's dark and somewhat depressive, but not in a geigh Slipknot way. This is pure honest emotion, and the way the album suddenly ends with the slightly reverbed "I remember here" is absolutely amazing.
Moving on to some song highlights... Well, it's hard not to mention the 5-in-a-row speedster thrash opening. A mellow, melodic intro with a hilarious fake ending (it goes to a dramatic climax, and just when you expect the riffage to start, it goes back to the same old melody) takes us into opening track "Coma", before it really gets going, and when it does you'll go "fuck yeah, this is thrash!" And then suddenly Sid Falck kicks in with the double bass pedal, and it comes together with the simple but crushing riff and heavy-ass bass, and it's all so fucking great. The first time I heard it, I would've screamed "Holy fuck!" out loud, but was too busy giving myself a whiplash injury.
The song pummels and pulverizes all in it's way, with crushingly heavy riffs and drumming, menacing vocals and crazy solos. "Infectious" slows down a bit, with some more brutal headbanging moments and badass lyrics.
Then we have "Blood Money", which brings in a more melodic side and works it in perfectly with the riff onslaught, and that melodic middle section riff is just amazing. Following that we have "Thanx For Nothin", which is at the moment my favourite song on here, but it's all fucking great. Probably the fastest song on here (rivalled only by "Live Young, Die Free", another fucking monster thrasher and among the best 3 songs here), perfectly kicking in with the crazy drumming intro (man, the drums fucking rule on this album) and then the crushing riff kicks you in the fucking face like a van full of anvils. A van made of metal. And the song just keeps going with monstrously fast, heavy and catchy riffs - That's is one of the main things that make this album even better than many of the brutal monster-riffers out there like "Reign in Blood", "Agent Orange" and "Darkness Descends", all amazing albums in their own right - It's so insanely fucking catchy.
Every Overkill album has that trait, but "Horrorscope" especially is filled with those totally catchy, memorable vocal lines and guitar riffs in every single song, sung perfectly by Blitz' rather unique vocal style and at times empowered with gang vocals. This is some great shit to headbang and shout along to from the top of your lungs, preferrably with a few beers in your belly.
"Thanx For Nothin" is an awesome drinking song.
After "Thanx For Nothin" there's "Bare Bones", which is another fast-paced awesome thrasher with heavy-ass double bass on the chorus, though not quite as strong as the four opening tracks.
After that, it slows down quite a bit for the title track and "New Machine", two crushingly heavy songs, highlighted by the one-note moshing riff in the former and the latter with the main riff, which really gives the feeling of an army of brain dead soldiers marching as part of a man-controlled machine called society, or whatever the lyrics are about. I never really bothered to think about it, they just sound cool.
Another midpaced bludgeoning number is "Nice Day... For A Funeral", which has that one riff that's quite simple and goes on for quite a while, but it's so fucking good and heavy, you just don't mind at all. The song also has a very nice emotional section in the middle, working as a bit of a preview of what's to come later, as the song fades into the closer "Soulitude".
The remaining songs are "Frankenstein", the superior cover of Edgar J. Winter's rather catchy instrumental found in many rock n' roll movies ("Wayne's World 2" and "Detroit Rock City" come to mind), and the previously mentioned "Live Young, Die Free", another fast-paced thrasher in the vein of the first four, and about equally good as "Thanx For Nothin", especially with the crushing bridge riffage going into the catchy, dark chorus.
Ah, man. I wasn't planning to do a song-by-song review, but that's more or less what we got. Ah well, shit happens or something. It's just so fucking good, this album, and you DEFINITELY need it to your collection if you like your Thrash Metal. The definitive thrash album from the definitive thrash band, at least as far as I've heard in my rather limited 300-or-so CD/LP collection of Metal.
Perhaps the most consistent thrash band up to the point of this album, Overkill delivers more great thrash, with their trade mark sound. This sound is difinitivly Overkill, but at times much faster, and a bit heavier. I would say its overall a faster Overkill album, but Feel the Fire has it beat, since on a few tracks there are slow parts, and Horrorscope is a pretty slow song. But at certain times I was blown away that Overkill could play so fast, like on Coma and Infectious. The drumming is much faster on this album than on The Years Of Decay, the guitars are heavier, and top the speed of the guitars of The Years Of Decay. Blitz's vocal style is much the same....since this point his vocals stopped changing. Before this album, Feel the Fire to Taking Over albums mostly, Blitz sang a bit cleaner. By the time of Horrorscope Blitz developed his trademark raspy vocal style that is still with him today. I personally like it better than the cleaner way he sang before, it give his vocals more attitude and intesity, it helps his screams have more energy too.
This album has a consistent sound, but a bunch of different things can be found here. Songs with a groove feeling to them like Horrorscope, faster songs like Infectious and Coma, and a cover song. There are three songs worth mentioning on this album that make it stand out and showcases all that it offers. Those songs are Coma, Horrorscope, and Soulitude. These songs all stick with the Horrorscope album feel and sound, but do it in three interesting ways.
Coma showcases the typical unchanged vocals since The Years Of Decay of Blitz. As usual they are full of attitude, and delivered in a straight forward way. Vocally he doesn't do much thats interesting, but it still sounds great like always for Overkill. Whats the catch for this song is its the fastest Overkill's done up to this point I think. The guitars provide great thrash riffs with really fast speed for Overkill. They don't even slow that much when Blitz sings, just a bit, but they still remain fast. Its nice to see Overkill play with speed, something they hadn't focused on since Feel The Fire.
I can say the same on Horrorscope as I did for Coma for the vocals, and I will. They are delivered in the same attitude filled way Blitz always does, except with a bit more rhythym to match the sound of the guitars. With that said, the unique for Overkill part of this songs is the speed and thrash groove style the song is done in. The guitars have alot of rhythym and sound very thrashy. Its a flowing guitar riff throughout the song that doesn't change much but doesn't manage to get boring. Blitz managas to match the rhythm of the guitars with is vocals adding to the thrash groove feel it has. This is a unique song for Overkill that is easy to get into the rhythym for the listener, very enjoyable and memorable.
Soulitude starts off slow in the style of the song The Years of Decay, but talk about a song full of energy. This is my favorite song on the album just for the non stop amazing vocal work by Blitz and the non stop intensity/energy of this song prodived by its epic/progressive nature. Its not progressive like prog metal, but the song just keeps getting more and more intense and goes out with a bang. The intensity and energy just leads right up to the end of the song and ends with it. The impressive vocal work by Blitz and the way the song progresses give it the intesity and energy it explodes with. He sings with a ton of passion, it sounds at times like he is so passionate about what he is singing that it makes him scream like he can't control it. I can imagine that if Overkill played this song live Blitz's face would be doing spasms because he sings so intesnly.
This album overall has a bunch of memorable moments, like the Frankenstein cover is a fun song, making it memorable next to the seriousness nature of Overkill and this album. Infectious and Bare Bones have memorable and catchy chorus' and lyrics. The songs I mentioned with all the other memorable moments makes this album almost as good as The Years Of Decay and Feel The Fire. Its a bit different sound of what Overkill did up to this point, but still in their pure raw thrash sound. I give them credit for making a thrash album in the 90's the doesn't suck couphmetallicaslayercouph. If you like their stuff up to this point, Horrorscope is for you.
Overkill enters the 90's with two new axemen to fill in for the quitting Bobby Gustafson, who handled all guitar duties for the four first albums. The guitar work on Years of Decay was impressive; including both the tight riffing and the fast but melodic lead work, so how well has this line-up change turned out?
Well, to give you a hint, it's pretty safe to say that Horrorscope marks a new era for the east coast thrash unit - and arguably brings their sound and songwriting to the next level.
Horrorscope adds a whole lot of substance compared to 'Decay'; a clearer sound, more varied guitar and drum work, more varied songwriting and most important of all: more distinguishable songs, which was the biggest problem with the previous album.
On the flip side... the all-out pissed-off thrashing factor one has come to expect is missing in many places, which, yes, was the best thing with the previous album.
But really, the slight lack of thrash compared to Years of Decay is the only possible complaint you could have. I guess it depends on who you ask, but I find this album to be a more solid musical experience than the last - if not as much of a headbanging experience. When some thrash metal fans think "less thrashy" they begin to think "commercial" and "sell-out", but this album isn't at all to be compared with The Black Album, released the same year. This album is in no way less thrashy in a commercial sense, instead think; some thrash sacrificed in order to bring things to the next level and to add some variety (while many like to think Metallica sacrifices some thrash for some $$$$$$). Speaking of Metallica, the sound of the drums on this album remind me a whole lot of '...And Justice for All'; especially that "clicking" bass drum sound, which fits well with Overkill's tight sound.
Getting on to the songs, 'Coma' opens the album with a familiar spooky acoustic riff, perhaps ala 'Who Tends the Fire' on the previous record, and becomes chaotic and piledriving once it gets heavy; good drum work here. The verse, pre-chorus and chorus are all the familiar tight and thrashy good ol' Overkill, but by now you should have begun to notice the new and improved guitar work - more varied and advanced, as well as having a clearer and overall better sound. The slowdown at around 3.13 is yet another familiar one, before giving way to the very first twin guitar trade-off solo on an Overkill song ever! Overall, this is an impressive opener, representing their new slightly altered style in a good way.
As with Years of Decay, my favorite song on this album is track number two; 'Infectious'! It's similar to the previous song as far as speed and aggression goes, but is even tighter and better! Check out that incredibly tight bass drum work in the beginning, just as the song gets fast! The song shifts nicely with the fast verse and the straight-tempo chorus, which rolls with it's heavy riffing and nasty vocals. "I'm a wartime kiiilleeer, I'm a maaan! I'm a peacetime killeeer, doin' the best I can!" Real solid typical Overkill thrash so far, but what ABSOLUTELY shines is the melodic "Infliction, I am here" slow down section followed by an absolutely monster-heavy and pulsing riff which is aided by the constant "HEY!" background chant, perhaps a little Exodus-like. A true powerpack of a song, stuff like this is definitely what Overkill does best - and they've been doing it for almost 20 years!
'Blood Money', the third track, is one of the more "different" numbers on the disc, compared to the previous. A little more punk-tinged, but not in a bad way; more along the lines of 'Hit the Lights' by Metallica (how many times am I going to mention Metallica in this review, the two bands are nothing alike!). Frantic-paced and very aggressive overall, but also with a good and melodic chorus. The angry vocals stand out as well, overall making this a solid thrasher; basically summing up what Overkill is all about.
'Thanx for Nothin'' (u 4got 2 rpl4ce "for" wiv 4) is much more like the faster songs on 'Decay'; it instantly grabs you by the throat and just thrashes away! The main riff blisters, the verse has those typical Blitz vocals with tons of attitude and angst and the chorus downright THRASHES! This song has to be one of the catchiest ever in thrash metal and one every fan of metal should enjoy, seriously. However, there's the usual problem with me and catchy songs - just as growing songs are ones that I can enjoy for longer periods of time, the opposite goes for catchy songs; I have to say I got a little tired of this song after about a week or so.
The heavy guitar and light-key piano intro to track 5, Bare Bones, is a must-hear. Man, the boys really seem to have a knack for doom and horror - could it be the Sabbath influence? The verse is fast and good, as is the chorus with it's fast double bass and the following riff during "BARE BONES!!" is punishing. The solo followed by a melodic lead receives high marks as well and overall this song clearly ranks in as one of the best on the album.
However, the intro to 'Bare Bones' falls horribly short in comparison to the one found in the title track. Beginning with a powerful bass part, an insanely heavy guitar chug slowly creeps in. A slow and very doomy verse follows, again; very Sabbath-like. The chorus features that awesome chugging again - nasty to the hilt!!! "Ach kan feel it koming!!!" A great slower melody follows, as well as a good solo and some nice bass effects before even the second verse has started! The chorus is repeated several times towards the end, the boys know when to stick to something good!
'New Machine' doesn't come anywhere close to breaking the quality streak for six songs straight, as it has a very good opening riff, a terrific groovy verse and a solid slow down chorus.
'Frankenstein', the Edgar Winter cover, is a strong instrumental throughout - nasty riffs and leads everywhere.
'Live Young, Die Free' is typical Overkill - fast and tight, good main riff, many tempo shifts and some doom here and there. Other than the post-chorus chugging and the great lead melody at 2.11 there's not much to say about this song - like I said before, it's all classic Overkill and not really disappointing compared to the other tracks either, I just don't have anything else to add.
Track 10, 'Nice Day...for a Funeral' opens with some solid grinding guitar work, but a complaint is that the verse and the chorus both come across as rather monotonic. It just doesn't go anywhere, it's just there doing pretty much nothing to you. However, the melodic section at 2.52 with the fitting death march backing it up just about saves this song from a "filler" status. The solo with it's driving power chords stands out as well, but this song is nonetheless the weakest on the album and while being the longest one it still feels most run-of-the-mill of the bunch. Sidenote: is it just me, or does the few first seconds before the actual music starts remind a whole lot of Warrant's big hit 'Cherry Pie'? Just when that scream is about to end, I keep thinking "DIRTY, ROTTEN, FILTHY, STINKING!" is gonna come next. Yeah right, like Overkill would wanna rip off a glam band, this is probably a terrible stretch anyway.
'Soulitude' has some surprisingly strong emotion at it's onset, once again showing this album's versatility, and the crooning vocal work by Blitz is strong as well. The chorus is very emotion-powerful, shifting the song into mid-tempo and even goes a bit thrashy towards the end. Actually, the melodic but heavy and driving guitar work of this very chorus reminds me a good deal of Iced Earth - but Jon Schaffer didn't write stuff in this vein until 'The Dark Saga', released in 1996, so this song may be a little before it's time...but I dunno, it's just a thought and many may disagree. Anyway, the bluesy solo after the first chorus isn't bad either - this song is indeed an excellent album closer.
From what I've heard, this album and the previous are the Overkill's most popular releases, which calls for some further comparing.
"Wide open" - those are probably the two words that tell the difference between this one and the previous in the best way possible. When I first got this album, I didn't like it nearly as much as Years of Decay; the reduced amount of thrash was probably a big factor. This album took a bit of time to grow on me, but this album isn't really an album that takes a lot of time to grow; it's just that Years of Decay is so irresistibly catchy, some of the catchiest thrash I've ever heard.
Anyway, when this album was done growing, it was pretty clear for me which is the best album of the two. In short, this album is arguably the better one in the long run, which is always the best run when it comes to music. Sure, no matter how much spins you give it, Horrorscope never becomes as thrashy or fast as The Years of Decay. But even if your head never will be banging as much, your ears will most likely (*trying hard to stay objective here*) find this album to be a better experience than the previous one.
As far as I'm concerned, there aren't any real complaints whatsoever to be had here and even if that doesn't make this album the end-all of thrash, this album is still highly recommended to any fan of the thrash metal genre.
Overkill were riding high after the release of The Years Of Decay. However, the band was dealt a major blow when tensions within the band claimed guitarist and songwriter Bobby Gustafson. Overkill bounced back, replacing Gustafson with the guitar team of Rob Cannavino and Merritt Gant, and recorded Horrorscope. This also marks another line-up change, with this being drummer Bob "Sid" Falck's last album with Overkill, exiting due to tensions between him and Blitz.
With this, Overkill came dangerously close to topping The Years Of Decay, and produced one of the last thrash classics. The album sees Overkill as a tighter unit, streamlining their approach to a more focused sound.
Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (vocals) - Horrorscope sees Blitz in the best form of his career, controlling his voice better and going over the top at more appropriate times. He sounds totally venomous here, bringing to mind a more controlled Udo Dirkschneider. He also uses his exceptionally large vocal range (for thrash anyways) to great effect, especially the high notes he hits in Thanx For Nothin'.
Rob Cannavino (guitars) - One half of the guitar team that replaced Bobby Gustafson, Cannavino handles quite a few of the lead parts, along with locking in with Merritt Gant to provide the tight rhythms that dominate this album. His lead approach seems a lot more melodic than his counterpart, which is best evidenced by his work in Soulitude and Infectious.
Merritt Gant (guitars) - The other half of Overkill's guitar team, Gant tends to handle the more frenetic leads on the album, playing in a very fast, clean and precise style The best places to see this is on the last solo of the opener Coma, and on the instrumental shredfest Frankenstein, a Johnny Winter cover (and something his predecessor may not have been able to pull off)
Carlos "D.D." Verni (bass) - D.D. is further becoming a bass monster, evidenced with his use of the 8-string bass in the intro to Coma and Soulitude (I think it's Soulitude anyway). D.D. also provides a nice propulsive low-end throughout the disc.
Bob "Sid" Falck (drums) - Falck's final appearance with Overkill shows him as an underrated thrash drummer, as it his drumming that is the final piece of the puzzle that put Overkill over the top. His style has changed slightly, relying less on crazy fills (although he can still crank them out, just listen to Live Young, Die Free) and relies more on double-bass to create intensity, as seen in Coma, Blood Money and Bare Bones.
Production is once again handled by Overkill and Terry Date, and is an improvement over the previous release. The guitars are extremely clear and well defined, and the drum sound is full, although the snare sounds a little hollow. The bass is also prominent, a trait that's set Overkill apart from quite a few thrash bands of the era. Blitz is mixed to the front and at a good level.
Coma - Beginning with an 8-string bass intro, Coma starts off the album in fine fashion. Featuring searing lead work and impressive double-bass.
Blood Money - The most insanely catchy song on the disc. Features good precise riffing, and a double bass driven chorus where Blitz screams "Liiiaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrr!!!" over and over. Very catchy little number.
Bare Bones - Starts with a piano intro, then proceeds into a Raining Blood-type riff, followed by a gang chorus. Features the most melodic and memorable guitar solos on the record.
Horrorscope - Since Under The Influence, Overkill has included at one grinding slow Sabbath number in each of their releases. This is the slow grinding number, and it is unbelievably heavy. It starts off with a bass figure with the song fading in underneath it. Slow and evil sounding verse riffs combined with a prowling chorus which obliterates anything in its path.
Live Young Die Free - From the opening notes, you know this track isn't going to fuck around, and by christ it doesn't! This punishing track features precise riffing and aggressive drumming.
Not one to be found.
None to be found.
- Tighter performance
- Improved production
- Much improved lead work
- Blitz vocals are easier to bear
- Less progressive approach
This album comes dangerously close to topping The Years Of Decay and is another undisputed thrash classic. This album shows why Overkill are so revered in thrash metal and is definitely worthy of a place in any metalhead's collection
This is what some consider Overkill's finest hour. While not quite as good as Years of Decay, it is definitely quite excellent. The changes in lineup (Bobby G. leaves, and Rob and Merritt come in) don't much alter the general style of the band - there are still monster thrash riffs and nice solos everywhere.
The album opens up with Coma, which is a ripping thrash number that is not at all unexpected by Overkill's standards. The album moves along at this speed through Infectious, Blood Money, and Thanks for Nothing, before pausing a bit for an intro to Bare Bones. After this, the song is faster and choppier than the first four, but in the same vein.
The title track is slowed down a bit - more bludgeoning than ripping, especially the middle part, where the New York style "mosh riff" is taken to its most insane extreme: about 84 beats per minute, every beat rings like a nail, through the head... now I can see .....
oh dear I must've started quoting from the song. Must be memorable, huh?
Next up is New Machine, which is also kinda midpaced, and then Frankenstein, which is a bit of an instrumental number. It's originally done by Edgar Winter or Johnny Winter, and at this point I cannot be bothered to remember which one - it's made into a nice thrash piece.
Then, Live Young Die Free. The best song on here. Similar to the first four, but better - more memorable chorus, nice solo, one of the greatest Overkill songs ever.
The last two songs, Nice Day for a Funeral, and Soulitude, pretty much go together as one - a bludgeoning doomish riff-fest leading into a balladic part then a faster, more melodic segment. Very nicely executed, and a great way to finish the album.
This album is definitely worth getting - Overkill can hardly do wrong.