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Overkill: Horrorscope - 100%

MetalManiaCometh, July 31st, 2020

There’s very few albums in my life that have had a huge impact in not only my music tastes but also on a emotional level. “Reign In Blood”, “Number Of The Beast”, “By Inheritance”, and finally “Horrorscope” are some examples that had that effect on me. “Horrorscope” was my first experience with Overkill and was an album that got me through hard times in my personal life and ever since then Overkill has remained my favorite band. Before I discovered “Horrorscope” I was already well educated in bands such as Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer (who was my favorite band before Overkill); you know, the popular stuff. But once I found “Horrorscope”, thanks to my brother handing it to me in a music store, my musical tastes grew tenfold.

Something about this record just popped out to me and was noticeably different from everything I’ve listened to thus far. Everything from the Merrit Gant and Rob Cannavino’s twin guitar attack, Sid Falck’s technically impressive drumming, D.D.’s distinct bass lines, and Blitz’s unique shrills and screams sent shivers down my spine and has changed my tastes in music forever. I don’t believe there’s one weak moment on this album as everything flows perfectly from shredding riffs to slower doom influenced song structures to mid-paced thrashing. I personally think the flow of this album works a little better than the previous album, “The Years Of Decay”, as it is more refined.

“Refined” is honestly the perfect word I can use for “Horrorscope” as I believe it really does refine the best elements that was found on the previous album. In my review for “The Years Of Decay” I stressed how varied the songs were by having all the speedy thrash riffing you’d ever want while injecting doom metal, a ballad, a punk influenced song, and more technically impressive mid-paced songs. “Horrorscope” has all of that but I believe does it just a little better. “Horrorscope” embodies all the best characteristics that it’s comparable, “Playing With Spiders / Skullcrusher”, has while focusing much more on that doom atmosphere than “Skullcrusher”. The same can be said for songs like “Thanx For Nothin’” and “Solitude” with their respective comparables being “I Hate” and “The Years Of Decay”. A natural progression for the bands sound and now with the introduction of 2 guitarists, it really does set up the difference between this album and the previous four.

Writing wise “Horrorscope” is chalk full of A+ soloing and riffing from Merritt Gant and Rob Cannavino who probably played their best performance here in their whole career. Sure, Bobby Gustafsons handy work isn’t here but I can’t say that Overkill “lost” their sound after he left as the writing proves that incorrect. Some of Overkills most distinct solos, and my personal favorites, are found throughout. From “Coma” with its dual shredding to “Blood Money” with its constant solos coming in and out of the song to “Nice Day....For A Funeral” with its solo starting off sluggish only to gain traction and speed as it goes, everything is exceptionally played and written. Hell, the cover to “Frankenstein” is handled extremely well. Honestly, I personally think this is Overkills most technical effort just under “Under The Influence”. There is just a big variety of song structures to be found here as Overkill utilizes the songs individual times to slow down the thrashing for a moving melodic grove and vice versa.

Sid Falcks presence here on the drums is absolutely stellar. I talked about how Sid really came into his own in “The Years Of Decay” but I think his best performance is to be found here. “New Machine” offers a lot of structural changes in the drumming as he goes in and out of tempo; going back and forth from speed to a slower tribal beat. Really, if you are drum lover, go listen to “New Machine”. The album is full of those type of drum tempo changes and Sid remains tight in execution. This would be Sids final album with Overkill but holy shit what a way to exit; nothing but phenomenal work on here and on the other classic albums he was apart of.

Getting to the bass, we get to D.D. Verni and his chunky bass lines. “Horrorscope” raises Verni’s bass in the production considerably more than it ever was (until W.F.O.). D.D. really goes to work here as he offers one of his most varied performances. Just as Sid and the rest of the musicians, there’s a lot of different tempo changes going on here on the album and I think that really benefits D.D.’s playing style. With songs like “Horrorscope” and “Nice Day...For A Funeral” that showcases his slow, thick groovey picking while “Live Young, Die Free” and “Infectious” offer something speedy licks, I’ll never understand why D.D. doesn’t get as much recognition he deserves.

Now we’re onto Bobby Blitz and his singing is as great as it ever been, maybe even a little better here than previously. Blitz’s screams and shrills are probably the best in the business but he’s not just a one trick pony as he does give a varied performance here. I always liked how he goes back and forth from his normal voice to a more melodic singing in “Blood Money” as it gives the listener a little more vocal variety and goes great with the riffing. “Soulitude” gives us a more intimate performance from Blitz just as “The Years Of Decay” did but I really love how the song begins to amp up, then slow it back down while adding a very tasty solo to top it off. Besides Blitz’s vocals, I believe lyrically the songs have some of the best writing they’ve done thus far. The songs focus on death, despair, or even saying goodbye and I believe that’s all intentional as the album is masked in thick, dark atmosphere which I find more so than “The Years Of Decay”. Blitz just really gives it his all on “Horrorscope” and I personally think this is his best performance in the bands 30 plus history.

After covering all the writing and performances I think the production is in need of talking about. Terry Date comes back to “Horrorscope” after he worked on the previous album and he really hits it out of the park here; improving his skills since “The Years Of Decay”. Everything’s clear, loud, and crunchy but isn’t over produced and just sounds natural. I’ve read some complaints that certain things were either too loud or quiet such as D.D.’s bass or Blitz’s vocals for a few examples and I don’t hear those issues here at all. You can hear everything while also not having one instrument or Blitz’s vocals take over the mix. I mean, compare “Rust In Peace” that came out a year before where the cymbals are too loud and Dave’s voice sounds low in many places within the mix and you’ll hear it’s night and day in quality. Terry’s production hits you right in the face with everything equally and it’s probably one of the best produced thrash albums of all time.

I’ve heard other criticisms such as the songs not being memorable compared to previous material, nothing really sticking, or not being as interesting as the previous albums and I’m not sure where these criticisms come from. “Horrorscope” is full of interesting riffing and some of the best solos in the genre while songs like “Coma”, “Bare Bones”, and “Live Young, Die Free” offer that itch that previous songs such as “Elimination” and “Rotten To The Core” have but surrounded by a much darker feel and vibe to them. The use of tempo changes within the individual songs are done just a little better than “The Years Of Decay” and really changes the dynamic; keeping things interesting.

“Horrorscope” is a land mark of the genre, offering fantastic performances, excellent writing, and a terrific production. With alternative and grudge on the rise at the start of the 90s, Metallica putting out “The Black Album” the same year as “Horrorscope”, and thrash metal taking a dive in popularity; it almost feels cathartic how well made “Horrorscope” is, especially after Bobby Gustafsons departure. I truly do believe that “Horrorscope” is the best album that the band has put out and really ranks up there with other classic albums from their contemporaries which honestly, can be said about Overkills previous four. It’s not the most complex album nor is it the fastest but it is extremely well written and excellently preformed which is what is the most important thing about creating music.

If I could give “Horrorscope” a 105% I would as I think this is an album that surpasses “The Years Of Decay” (which I gave it a masterpiece status with 100%) just by a smidge. If “Horrorscope” can cause a divide in the metal community, most importantly the thrash metal community, on which album is better between this and TYOD then there must be something there to cause that divide. From “Feel The Fire” to “Horrorscope”, Overkill produced probably one of the strongest collection of thrash classics out of the genre and with the classic era of the genre coming to an end in the 90s Overkill truly gave that classic era of thrash with “Horrorscope” a bang to end on.

The Overkill jewels (3 / 4) - 86%

Felix 1666, September 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Atlantic Records

Heavyweight, deadly riffs drag the listener down. The few ones who can withstand these riffs are taken by extremely hefty, doomy guitars which create an enormous vortex in order to get him or her deep under the surface of toxic waters. Welcome to "Horrorscope", the track. Overkill, now a five-piece with two debutants in the guitars, check out the limits in terms of doom. The melody grinds slowly and mercilessly, it's a real feast to become witness to this steamroller, even for stubborn speed lovers like me. "Horrorscope", that much is certain, marks a worthy title track, albeit it does not show a representative approach.

The 6th album of New York's most persistent music formation offers an appropriately wide spectrum. Pretty fast thrashers stand shoulder to shoulder with melancholic feelings and cynical or desperate sections. But the main ingredient is the solid mixture of power and thrash metal which forms especially the tracks of the first half. The more or less experimental side of the band comes through during the second part, albeit the dudes do not develop completely new territories. Positively expressed, the guys avoid any kind of song that could damage their integrity.

"Coma" opens the album with a stage-setting acoustic intro - "Bare Bones" also shines with a spooky opening sequence - and its thrusting guitars ensure a good drive of this eerie mid-paced monument. The song conveys this uncomfortable feeling that separates real metal from radio-friendly rock music. Not to mention the great, intensive ending of this track. The following songs commute between up-tempo and mid-paced parts, they don't lack substance, the new guitarists show their skills and perform strong riffs, leads and solos. In addition, a proper number of breaks does not hurt the flow of the easily comprehensible tracks. In particular the faster sections make clear that the band still does not lack energy and the partly lame "The Years of Decay" falls more and more in oblivion as I listen to the here presented material. Overkill have never been the most technical formation, but the sharpness of tracks like "Blood Money" illustrate that they are able to score with pretty sharp riffs and an appropriate degree of accuracy. Either way, the first handful of songs always appears to me as a very homogeneous unit with "Coma" being the first among equals.

As already mentioned, the title track gives the album a new direction. This unstoppably rotating millstone sets the stage for another rather mid-paced beast. The stomping "New Machine" has this apocalyptic, oppressive mood that reflects the dictatorial regime which is described in the lyrics. This would be a good soundtrack for a remake of "1984" or "Brave New World" - or you use this music to accompany the pictures of your last holiday in North Korea on YouTube. Kin Jong Un will love you and the slightly industrialized last part of the song. To be honest, I am not quite sure whether he will enjoy this track, but due to whatever reason, I want to have at least one thing in common with this special type of terrorist.

Too bad that two of the last four tracks do not keep the exciting level of songs like "New Machine". Especially the instrumental cover version should be banned. It hurts the flow of the full-length and remains a foreign body. But shit happens and it is of greater relevance that the properly produced album also scores with two highlights on the last meters. The speedy "Live Young, Die Free" and the thematically connected "Nice Day for a Funeral" with its riffs of steel compliment each other ideally. No doubt, the band scores with a good teamwork. Led by Blitz, whose voice reinforces the mood of every track, the instrumentalists, play their parts flawlessly and present themselves as a well aligned combat unit. In view of all these factors, "Horrorscope" has never had the chance to gather dust on my shelf. And "Horrorscope" (the track) has more to offer than the whole repertoire of some lame doom bands, for example ______ (please make your choice).

The eulogy he would've wanted - 94%

BastardHead, May 23rd, 2018

If you've followed my reviews for a while, you know that I've covered Overkill plenty throughout my career. You'll also know that I've never given them a positive review. It's true! Somehow I've just always gravitated towards knocking them down a few pegs because they had so many albums I hated that people seemed to give a pass, and it always bewildered me. However, I'm not an insane person. As a thrash fan, I know damn well that Overkill has plenty of great albums too, and I think it's about high time I covered one. I promised a friend I would do so a long time ago. And now, in my perpetual lateness, I'm going to fulfill my promise to my now-fallen compatriot, and give an honest review of his all time favorite album (or maybe second place next to some choice albums from Limbonic Art or Kalmah or something), Overkill's fifth and arguably finest album, Horrorscope.

The most obvious and major factor most people should realize when it comes to this album is the not-so-amicable departure of longtime axe-slinger Bobby Gustafson. Overkill may be most obviously defined by Blitz's signature nasally snarl and D.D. Verni's mega-trebly *dween* bass tone, but Gustafson was a force to be reckoned with in the early days, churning out classic riffs left and right ("Hammerhead" from the debut contains one of my all time favorite riffs ever written) and writing a good chunk of the music, in particular the (frankly undeserving, but hey) classic The Years of Decay. Him getting the boot should have been a huge blow to the band's sound, but Blitz and D.D. ain't no fuckin' quitters so they just regrouped and hammered out one of the monsters of early 90s thrash in retaliation.

I've made this point over and over, but thrash was never great necessarily because of Overkill, instead Overkill was great because thrash as a genre was great. This shows here, because the early 90s was a good era to be a product of the times as a thrash band. The album I've always seen to be the parallel to Horrorscope is Kreator's seminal Coma of Souls, what with both having a really dry-yet-punchy production and a heightened influence of slower, more crushing moments in conjunction with their customary neck wrecking tempos. This might seem immediately odd, because one of my biggest complaints with The Years of Decay is that there are too many slow songs that bog down the pace and break the flow, but the big difference here is that the slower tracks here are just flat out fucking excellent. While something like "Skullkrusher" just sounded slow with little else in mind, something like "Horrorscope" or "New Machine" sounds like there's a clear goal at stake. For example, something like the title track actually feels like a true marriage of thrash and doom metal, something the band had attempted before and would continue to attempt throughout their career and never quite nail again. It's slow, but the riffs are menacing and pounding instead of meandering and dull. It's still a driving force, and the extended one note breakdown just absolutely decimates with the addition of something simple like the haunting guitar melody in the background. "Nice Day... for a Funeral" utilizes this same trick and it sort of astounds me that they never managed to make this work again, because it turns out this nebulous coagulation of melancholy and malice creates an incredibly neat effect. "New Machine" may actually be my favorite of these tracks for an entirely different reason. That one sounds more like a simplified version of "Who Tends the Fire" but works 1000% better simply because it gets to the point quicker and is carried by a super tight groove. Yeah, this is basically just a groove metal track, something they'd tie their noose to before flailing around for 20 years and failing to write more than a handful good ones despite focusing entirely on them, but damn if their first foray into the style isn't a home run. That main riff is an absolute banger.

However, this is motherfucking Overkill we're talking about here. The fact that their constant experimentation with slower tempos finally worked this time is a nice bonus, but it's not what makes Horrorscope such a classic. Hell no, it's their fervent dedication to punk-infused attitude entwined seamlessly with top-tier thrashing mayhem that made them stand out in the first place, and this is arguably their most consistently vicious offering of tracks in that vein. "Coma" kicks things off with a nice clean intro to lull you into a false safety, because once the riffs start the band makes extra god damned clear that they mean fucking business. I've never once heard the section with the double bass in the intro and not immediately sought out the nearest living thing and punched it to death. The lion's share of the music here follows somewhat in line with The Years of Decay, what with the extremely obvious Metallica influence shining through with the monstrously chunky riffs and decidedly simplistic drumming carrying most of the songs. It's like if that 1989 album was full of tracks like "Elimination" an "Evil Never Dies" all the way through, because it's just a non stop riff attack and it shows up most of their contemporaries. Overkill was never the fastest or the heaviest of their peers, but this is one of those times when it didn't matter for them, and through the power of sheer songwriting fortitude they managed to deliver an unreal streak of excellence. "Thanx for Nothin'" shoves their punk roots in your face without ever sacrificing an ounce of their osmium, and the chorus can whip any crowd into a frenzy effortlessly. "Live Young, Die Free" and "Bare Bones" rip and tear through listeners as if they were paper, with riffs so simultaneously fast and chunky that they sound like tommy guns that fire raw steaks. I could be a dick and point out that they both sound an awful lot like "Battery" but if you haven't noticed, the frequent Metallica-isms work to this album's benefit rather than its detriment. Instead of sounding like a calculated knockoff of Master of Puppets like the previous album did, this sounds like the lost album recorded in lieu of And Justice for All. It's a logical continuation of what they were doing before, except this time they decided to push further towards the extreme end of the spectrum instead of settling on an easier-to-digest groove. No, this is one of the gloriously few times that Overkill found themselves truly pushing an envelope, because this is by far the hungriest they've ever sounded. As a result, Horrorscope is probably the most Overkill album that Overkill ever released. This is the one where they truly solidified their identity to me, and it's a damn shame that they abandoned it so quickly.

There are nitpicks but they're just that, nitpicks. Blitz doesn't sound quite as manic as the albums from the Three Bobbys era, and he's really the only musical aspect of the band that didn't make a massive improvement. There aren't any moments like that insanely tense crescendo in "Evil Never Dies" here, instead he just does his thing in a fairly utilitarian manner. Fortunately that's not really a big deal because even when he's in pure workman mode and giving the guitars the spotlight, he stands out for his iconic vocal delivery alone. The solos aren't quite as memorable either, but that's to be expected because even when Overkill finally got their shit together and released another great album 19 years later, they never fully managed to replace Gustafson's absolute wizardry on the fretboard. "Infectious" is a kind of meh song and the Edgar Winter cover is entirely pointless as well, but overall that's really all the negative things I have to say about this album.

Feel the Fire will always be the band's finest hour to me, but their first two albums have a pretty different approach than what came afterwards, and if you want to split hairs so finely that you're in danger of nuclear fission, Horrorscope is unquestionably the highlight of the second phase of the band's first era. This was the sound of a band in lockstep with one another, taking a brutal departure in stride instead of reeling and scrambling to make something work in his absence. I know Horrorscope is a very well respected album, but it deserves even more than it gets, which is saying a lot. This is 53 minutes of non stop action that feels like it flies by in 30. Overkill wouldn't be this exciting and adrenaline-inducing for nearly two solid decades, and it's a great swansong for the classic era of the genre in general. Everybody should be familiar with it, and if you're not, fucking fix that right the hell now, because this is a stone cold classic.

RIP Diamhea, you were a monster truck that walked like a man. I'm sorry you aren't here to see me make an attempt to fulfill a dumb promise I made purely out of respect for such an insanely dedicated individual. Hopefully I made good on my end. You are the Beef Castle that took a lot of shit in stride and deserve all the credit in the world for making this site run as smoothly as it has for the past five years you were on the team. Oh, and never forget: !!!FUCK YOU!!!

Exploring the boundaries of vicious thrash - 95%

Agonymph, May 20th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Megaforce Records

While OverKill had line-up changes before guitarist Bobby Gustafson left in 1990, but Gustafson contributed heavily to the songwriting. Therefore, there must have been some sense of anticipation leading up to the release of 1991’s ‘Horrorscope’. It was the first OverKill record with two guitarist – always a plus – and it seems to explore the boundaries of OverKill’s vicious thrash metal sound more than any other of their albums, including its highly varied predecessor ‘The Years Of Decay’. For what it’s worth, I think it’s their best record, combining the hungry aggression of their early days with just the right amount of experimentation.

Songwriting-wise, the transition is not as large as one might expect. The songs are a little more to-the-point than those on ‘The Years Of Decay’, but the main ingredients are still the same: heavily pulsating riff work that shifts between fast thrash and more pounding mid-tempo tunes, Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s rough, relatively high-pitched throat and generally simple, brutally effective choruses. The album’s biggest asset is in the degree of variation. The lesser albums of the band tend to get a bit samey as the album goes on, but literally every song on ‘Horrorscope’ sounds different than the others.

The varied nature of ‘Horrorscope’ is often emphasized by pointing out the most experimental tracks on the album and it must be said: the experiments are very successful. ‘New Machine’ manages to inject a great deal of groove into the sound without forsaking the band’s thrash roots and ‘Soulitude’ is the greatest power ballad the band released to this day due to its dark atmosphere, its excellent use of dynamics and its beautiful guitar solos. The title track sees the band grinding through doomy tempos without going into Black Sabbath-like territory like they did on ‘Skullkrusher’. The palm-muted main riff is simply punishing.

However, the more familiar straightforward aggression is every bit as interesting here. Songs like opening track ‘Coma’, ‘Infectious’ and the punky ‘Thanx For Nothin” show OverKill doing what they do best: playing angry thrash metal with as little subtlety as possible. Even within the uptempo songs, different approaches are attempted. ‘Bare Bones’ is one of the most complex songs the band has recorded to date and ‘Blood Money’ has a surprisingly open chorus. The true masterpiece is the mid-tempo thrasher ‘Nice Day…For A Funeral’ though. Especially when after the driving verses and a haunting chorus, a beautifully dramatic guitar arrangement appears in the middle section. Truly a work of art.

After the release of ‘Horrorscope’, drummer Sid Falck would leave the band and that is really too bad, because his parts were far more interesting than what other east coast thrash bands were offering. His tinny snare sound is the only downside to the album though, alongside the well-executed, but somewhat unnecessary Edgar Winter cover ‘Frankenstein’. OverKill must have realized that ‘Horrorscope’ was a pinnacle in their career, as last week’s ‘Live In Overhausen’ contains the full album – and debut album ‘Feel The Fire’ – played live and they went in a different direction following the album and did not try to force another ‘Horrorscope’ out. Well worth hearing if you like interesting thrash metal.

Recommended tracks: ‘Nice Day…For A Funeral’, ‘Soulitude’, ‘Coma’, ‘Bare Bones’

Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog

Wider scope - 81%

gasmask_colostomy, December 24th, 2017

There are perhaps two reasons to listen to thrash metal and the first is presumably to thrash, so we're left looking at the second for people who are sitting on their sofa at home (people like me if you can read between the lines). That second reason is that you want to make your boring life more exciting and make it seem like you're doing something quickly even if you actually have loads of time in which to finish. Of all the Overkill albums I've spent time listening to them, Horrorscope does the things I want the quickest, wasting little time in getting into gear and gouging a path down the highway of thrashing. Somewhat usefully, this album also uses a little of the dirt that would make later '90s Overkill releases such as W.F.O. and Necroshine into robust metal experiences devoid of trad metal delicacy and amped up on testosterone. That formula suits me better than the rather primitive thrash template used on Overkill's debut, which came across as a missing step from Iron Maiden to Metallica (and might well be if you're at all interested in chronology), while other thrash albums often strike me as either formulaic or long-winded depending on their preference for cheap thrills or more considered experiments.

As such, I might be forced to agree with the populous that this is Overkill's finest effort, especially as the opening of the album contains some of the most insistent arguments for speed as the prime metal invention, the mid-album also giving a decent showing in mid-paced crushers and some slightly kooky diversions, then the conclusion abstracting still further into some softer material. The atmosphere here inclines towards fitting the album title, just about making it past the point of cheesiness and into the creepy territory that the horror-movie piano intro to 'Bare Bones' is aiming for: this still doesn't achieve anything as mood-centred as a Paradise Lost album, though for thrash it's pretty effective and gives something other than riffs to focus on. The riffs themselves are certainly reasonable, 'Coma' and 'Infectious' leading the thrashing charge from the front, while 'Thanx for Nothin'' fares all the better for the breakneck groove in the main riff. The title track opts for a much slower and wider approach, coming close to Solitude Aeturnus in smooth slow-paced momentum that Blitz brings to a head by his charismatic vocals.

What makes this palatable for me whereas other Overkill albums fail to set a fire under my arse is that there is clear evidence of efforts being made to attend to more than one kind of song without sacrificing the character of the band, meaning that the older, thrashier style of the group powers several of the songs but is not overused, nor does the introduction of more diverse elements (i.e. the coming of Overkill's groove metal phase) distract from the essence of riffing and energetic leads. The slower strut of the title track and subsequent stomper 'New Machine', plus the gradually building closer 'Soulitude', sound stylistically close to the heavy beats of Metallica's Black Album sound, though the more atmospheric and creative execution of the songs, in addition to the warmer dirt of the production here, sway me strongly in favour of Overkill's version. The bursts of speed that are thrown into 'Live Young, Die Free' and 'Bare Bones' during the leads are also very well-judged, causing those moments to stand out as more exciting, while the verses have the chance to become catchy of their own volition, without needing to resort to palm-muted thrash riffing every time.

I'm still slightly underwhelmed by the total effect of the album, however, partly because I don't feel that Overkill end up with quite enough impact from all the changes they make. That piano introduction, the playful instrumental 'Frankenstein', and the combination of fleshier songs with briefer ones and fast-paced numbers with steadier cuts should add up to a satisfying choice of styles, but instead it just makes me feel that the band didn't quite have total control of everything here and compromised by offering variety instead of absolute quality. That's evident from the slightly lengthy running time and difficulty I have in choosing favourites, no song totally grasping me from start to finish. I'm quite a fan of the riffing style in 'Thanx for Nothin'' and the vocal hooks and doom influence of 'Nice Day...for a Funeral', though I'm not convinced that the groove opening is an entirely positive experience, even if Pantera thought it was good enough to re-use in their own songs.

In the end, it could just as easily be said that Horrorscope is the most representative Overkill album as the absolute best, though seeing that their career has been nothing if not consistent it's little surprise to find that a single best effort is hard to find. In any case, this is one of the most successful examples of an old school thrash band entering the '90s at full steam, beginning to diversify a stock sound in new directions and reaping rewards as a result. Unless you're absolutely allergic to thrash that you can enjoy while sitting on your sofa, you'll do well to take a look at your Horrorscope.

Overkill's finest hour - 100%

Superreallycool, October 8th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1991, 12" vinyl, Megaforce Records

Ah Horrorscope, my favorite Overkill record. I've contemplated reviewing it for the past two days, but haven't done so until now out of fear that I won't be able to express my true feelings for this album (God that sounded weird). In simple terms, this is what thrash metal should be. No album truly encapsulates thrash quite as well as this album does here. It merges both atmosphere, speed, and pushes how heavy thrash can be before it morphs itself into something else entirely. Of all the bands that weren't included in the big 4, Overkill always has been the one that I felt deserved to be in there, and this album is proof enough of why they should be a part of it.

The first thing you'll notice is that for a thrash album, the amount of atmosphere here is almost startling. Few artist have ever managed to put out an album with this much and this quality atmosphere, even though a plethora have attempted to. While it takes a back seat to the truly astonishing songs found on this album, the atmosphere created here is no small feat, and one of the things that makes this record stand out.

And as I just mentioned, the songs here are just astonishing. Overkill are usually associated with thrash metal, there are many times that Overkill leaves thrash metal here, most notably the slow, sluggishness found on the title track, it's pure sludge. The title track, "Coma", and "New Machine" all make my top 10 Overkill songs, and the rest aren't too far behind. The album is never short on quality, and the variation of tempo is a real treat. If you need diversity in tracks, by metal standards this album isn't too bad, not too bad at all.

Up to this point, Overkill never had great lyrics. They weren't meant to really, that wasn't who they were. But, with bands like Anthrax and Nuclear Assault on the scene, people really started to appreciate intelligent lyrics. Many fans were scared concerning the departure of Bobby Gustafson, who was a key songwriter. Fortunately these fears were quickly forgotten, due to the better lyrics, larger sonic palate, and boosted composition complexity. Most of the lyrics here have better flow to them, and are overall simply better written. While they never wrote songs about politics like Nuclear Assault, they didn't need to, nor should they have. It simply wasn't who Overkill was, and the lyrics are a great fit to the music. Over all, this is just simply a more mature Overkill, and the lyrics are a great display of this.

It's really a shame that this was released in 1991. Because of this, the album was released just as much of the "alternative" music fan base was turning to grunge, meaning Overkill's crowning achievement went unheard except by the Overkill devout, and because the following Overkill albums were quite weak, they never appealed to grunge fans who may have wanted something heavier.

Heard or not, this is a great album, no way around it. No matter what kind of metal fan you are, you're doing yourself a great disservice if you've never listened through it at least once. Bobby's voice as usual takes some getting used to, but once you do get used to him, you'll start to love him, and if you're like me think of him as one of the best metal vocalist out there, who is still going strong in his 50's. This is a great album and it's one you really, really should own.

Terror layeth beyond this moment. - 91%

hells_unicorn, August 20th, 2013

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.

Overkill show that post-1990 thrash is great - 86%

psychosisholocausto, February 8th, 2013

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

The Atmosphere Thickens... - 87%

Metal_Jaw, December 25th, 2012

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...

Made them what they are today. - 95%

Diamhea, August 31st, 2012

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 from Faith or Fear. 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 its 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 its 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 its 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. Think of it as Overkill's "Fade to Black," which makes sense as it follows a rather similar progression along with much of the appeal.

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'.

(Revised/Updated 1/23/14)

Mine read: meh - 65%

autothrall, July 10th, 2012

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 materialized 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.


Riffin' and Screamin' - 88%

InfinityX, February 13th, 2012

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

Blood Money

Overkill's peak is thrash metal's peak - 94%

screamingfordefender, October 24th, 2011

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.

Good, not classic, but seriously good! - 80%

morbert, July 6th, 2009

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.

A step down from Years of Decay, but a good listen - 80%

Idontsuckdick, December 27th, 2008

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.

High calibre thrash metal. Overkill's best! - 92%

WitheringToSerenity, March 27th, 2005

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

Overkill's last great album before Necroshine - 92%

Symphony_Of_Terror, April 9th, 2004

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.

More Kill for the masses - 89%

UltraBoris, August 11th, 2002

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.