Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Evil never dies and neither will Bobby Blitz - 92%

CuddlySilverback, August 17th, 2017

The Years of Decay is a strange album in the massive and noteworthy discography of Overkill. The legendary New Jersey thrash band was coming off their 1988 release; and while Under the Influence is another solid product, it didn't build off their two previous albums. The Years of Decay is comprised of classic Overkill tracks intermingled with some more experimental ones. The risks taken on this album were necessary to stay in contention with the thrash heavyweights such as Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and so on. By 1989, Metallica had released the groundbreaking Master of Puppets and then further demonstrated their progession in sound through ...And Justice For All. Metallica sat on top of the metal world and I can only assume that must have ticked Bobby "Blitz" off a tad considering Overkill was one of the earliest thrash bands to form and was constantly overlooked. Bobby is menacing on TYOD, his raspy vocals and piecing shrieks give so much energy. He genuinely sounds pissed off as he gives the performance of a lifetime. I can't say I've ever heard another vocalist sound so incensed and yet having so much fun at the same time. This album is Overkill's response to Master of Puppets, the band was determined to surpass them using their brand of punk inspired thrash.

I've listened to The Years of Decay many times and the enjoyment I experience has never diminished, it's easily one of my favorite albums to play over and over again. The first half of the album starts out as one would expect from a punk influenced thrash band, with fast, short and aggressive tracks that have the sole purpose to get your fists pumping and rip your face off. Excluding the opening track, these songs stay in the 3-4 minute range, the highlights being "Elimination" and "I Hate". Both tracks serve as catchy combative anthems and are perfect to listen to when you're feeling down. One might notice that the main riff from "Elimination" is reminiscent of the main riff from "Master of Puppets", in fact, you could say that Overkill lifted this riff and gave it their own unique spin. As I alluded earlier in my review, I believe that The Years of Decay is the East Coast response to Master of Puppets. Other tracks are comparable to the ones featured on MOP and the song arrangement is eerily similar.

Getting back to the review, after the first four tracks we see a drastic change in tone and style for Overkill. In the middle of album is the behemoth track "Playing with Spiders/Skullkrusher". This ten minute epic is the center piece of the album and serves as the bridge to the first and second half. The heavy, doom-like riffs of this track are incredible and evocative of Black Sabbath's early work. If I had a compliant, it would be the length of the song. When it comes to punk influenced bands, longer tracks are difficult to pull off since the riffs are very straightforward and often don't have the room or ability to evolve. One might find that this song becomes repetitive and could be accomplished with half the runtime. It's a fair point but I never found the length of the song (nor the album for that matter) to be an issue. Clocking in at nearly a full hour, The Years of Decay exceeds the runtime of the typical thrash album. Whether or not you believe the longer tracks over stay their welcome ultimately depends on your opinion of Bobby "Blitz". His high-pitched shrieks and raspy growls are constant throughout the album; I personally find his energy to be infectious and his vocal range makes him one of the finest in thrash. Yet, not everyone feels the same way and if Bobby isn't your cup of Joe then its understandable that the longer tracks are going to annoy you.

The second half of the album kicks off with possibly my favorite tracks, "Birth of Tension". Getting back to their bread and butter, this is a very thrashy track and Bobby "Blitz" really emotes the feeling of anger and frustration. Two longer tracks follow, "Who Tends the Fire" and the title track. Both are around the 8 minute mark and with exception to the plodding intro for WTTF, they are fantastic tracks showcasing the ability and range of this band. The title track in particular is impressive, it starts out slow, resembling ballad, with Bobby showing off his more melodic vocal style. "The Years of Decay" reminds me of "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" from MOP, they both start slow with a somber tone before ratcheting up the intensity by the end. Notably, there is some very nice riff work displayed by Bobby Gustafson on this track. Throughout the album, Gustafson treats the listener to a variety of neat riffs and intricate solos. Upon my first listen, I wasn't aware that TYOD only featured one guitarist and that made me appreciate the album even more; somehow the band managed to sound lager than life with only three musicians. The quality of the production should be credited to the legendary Terry Date, all the instruments have a clear and imposing sound. I love that I can distinctly hear D.D. Verni's bass throughout each track. Verni does a masterful job, as usual, intertwining his bass with Gustafson's guitar. Sid Falck is a more than competent drummer and while he may not be the driving force on this album, he certainly doesn't do anything to diminish its quality.

The album finishes off with yet another great thrasher, "E.vil N.ever D.ies". I believe this was the final piece to the Overkill saga before being reintroduced later; regardless, the track and is a perfect finish to a legendary record. Gustafson has a sweet solo near the end that I believe is criminally overlooked. For my final thoughts on TYOD, I view this as the standout album in Overkill's nearly four decade career. I can't say its unequivocally their finest work but I regard this album highly for being experimental. Overkill fans like myself are complacent when Overkill stays true to their sound but Bobby and the boys had the brass balls to change up a few things up. History has shown that departures from your classic sound and style can backfire but they managed to pull it off. Every track is vicious and purposeful, my only critique would be that some fat could have been cut off on the runtime. I can't recommend this album enough, even if you're not a fan of Overkill, its essential listening for any thrash aficionado.