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“Horrorscope”, the great predecessor of reviewed album “I Hear Black” is a real quintessence of thrash metal. It is a crowning achievement of the first period of the band, where Overkill matured in the mighty and golden 80s. This is well known truth, so why the hell I write such statement? Simply, I can’t write about new album and can’t say something about “Horrorscope”, musicians changed (consciously or not) the music style and their compositions. That’s true that thrash metal was weakening at those days, some bands broke up, some changed the music significantly. These New Yorkers didn’t give up of course, but the final result is terrible and I consider this effort not only as a weak album and the weakest one in Overkill’s discography, but as complete musical defeat.
It’s hard to write, but the only positive element of “I Hear Black” is front cover with two hues (black and orange), they create really good and memorable picture. But… can you believe it? The only positive thing is front cover? On Overkill album??? Yes, the remainder is simply bad and I know that it sounds unbelievably. When I bought a tape and played the stuff, the sound seemed to be broken, really. Still having in mind excellent “Horrorscope”, I couldn’t believe my ears. Production: flat, dry, powerless, emotionless and soulless. Unfortunately these five adjectives refer to the music also. Listening to the songs, maybe there is one track which is above this horrible mediocrity, it is called “Weight Of The World”. Why? Because it is the fastest one here! Of course this song isn’t special or unique in Overkill career yet it is impossible to put it in “Horrorscope” melting pot. The rest is maintained in mid tempo and it makes “I Hear Black” some kind of horrible cradle-song for disobedient child. I die of boredom! For sure the thrashing fire is gone yet I found some influences coming from Black Sabbath (“Spiritual Void”, “Ignorance & Innocence”, “Undying”) when I can hear slow, hard, very simple riffs. In turn “Shades Of Grey” (good title, by the way!) is a mix of Candlemass (but made very poorly) and grunge (Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam…) where I can distinguish three solo leads which of course don’t pluck out this song from musical death. The opening track is based on average riffs and destroyed by lame chants, just like the title track with very poor chorus, but this situation refers to each song: very poor melodic lines, in addition Blitz’s vocals are just mirror images of music and production. Simply: there is no song I can worship, there is no song to be remembered. No power means no thrash, no thrash means no power. And I wonder why they recorded an instrumental “Ghost Dance”, totally useless piece? Questions with no answers attack my mind…
All these aspects make “I Hear Black” the worst album in Overkill career. Really I can’t understand the musical entirety, fast glance at the line-up and I read: Ellsworth, DD Verni, Gant, Cannavino, Mallare. No imitations, no parody, no aliens, I can see creators of “Horrorscope” (except the drummer) so what the hell happened? This is a real secret for me. After five classic unforgettable metal shots Overkill tried to go a new way. Unfortunately this road leads to musical agony and spiritual void. Listening to this album is a real torture for me and I do it very, very seldom. Till nowadays I can’t understand this creative decline. But what is great thing in this kingdom of calamity, the next album called “W.F.O.” brought the music I was waiting for: thrash metal. And in a moment I forgot about this mistake. So let’s play “Where It Hurts” immediately!!!