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Man, I need this album right now. - 94%

Acrobat, July 22nd, 2009

You know, it’s just been one of those days – everything in the conceivable universe has managed to piss you off, and you’re sick of shovelling shit or shitting shovels (whichever the case may be). You feel your pulse racing, anger rising and the inevitable thought comes: It’s time to kill whoever happens to cross your path next. This album is just perfect for those moods. Everything about it is tense and angry; it’s an album wrought with angst – that’s right, The Years of Decay is an album that’s kicking against absolutely everything in its path.

‘Let me out of prison I’m just killing cats’ Yes, that’ll do nicely.

It’s certainly a departure from the punky, NWOBHM-tinged thrash that Overkill did before; it’s groovy, brimming with hostility, and it is surely a great deal more varied than the band’s previous works. But unlike several other well-known thrash ‘departures’ (for lack of a better term) The Years of Decay – despite its variation – is pure, thoroughbred thrash. It’s hard to explain, really, but, thrash isn’t just a certain style of riffing with a certain underlying drum pattern; it’s a manner of playing – an attitude, even. Certainly, it’s always been the case with Overkill; they’ve always possessed the said thrash attitude, and here it shines through. In many ways they’re the archetypal thrash band; it’s often said that thrash is “Judas Priest played by a punk band” who else but Overkill actually sounded like this? Think of the Overkill debut, Feel the Fire, that’s what it sounds like to me. But this is certainly a progression: starting out as a straight-forward, if exemplary, thrash album and then unleashing all kinds hell as it turns into a bludgeoning monster, moving at a slower pace but simply allowing for more aggression to focused with each hit. ‘Time to Kill’, ‘I Hate’, ‘Skullcrusher’? Do I need to spell it out that these guys mean business? Given that they took their name from a certain Motörhead number, I should fucking hope not!

But don’t be fooled, though, Overkill haven’t forgotten their influences – there still is an NWOBHM influence here, it’s just more concealed that you’d find on previous releases. Am I alone in thinking that the parallels between ‘Who Tends the Fire’ and Diamond Head’s ‘Am I Evil?’ are just as prevalent as those between the oft-stressed ‘Elimination’ and Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’? It’s still there, and make no qualms about it. The Years of Decay is the sound of a band both moving forward, hitting its stride in frightening form, and leaving nothing of what made its own formula so successful in the first place. In short: The Years of Decay is what every thrash band would have wanted to achieve with their own ‘step forward’ out of a tried-and-true thrash formula… yet at the same time it’s still a pure thrash album in terms of feeling, leaving no question as to why it’s so popular with fans! From straight thrash, to punky numbers, to expansive, epic numbers Overkill manage everything you’d ever need on this record. You want lessons on how to remain on the artistic role-call whilst still broadening your sound? Listen to fucking Overkill!

You know what, I was angry earlier (ready to recreate the cover of Black Flag’s Damaged in my own bathroom, even) and now I can barely remember why. That’s an exorcism! That’s a release! Angst has been so frivolously misused by a lot of recent movements (i.e. some of the more suspect ones that came after thrash) that you’d be forgiven if you forget it was a vital proponent in a lot of the finest metal. They say metal is made by angry young men for angry young men, and I can think of few better examples of this than Overkill’s legendary fourth album The Years of Decay. Rrraaahhh, thrash!