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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.