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Old enough to know better, too young to care. - 80%

Diamhea, September 11th, 2013

While I still consider Horrorscope to be Overkill's best, I can find at least as many individuals who claim the group's 1989 opus The Years of Decay deserves the same accolade. While undeniably an ambitious undertaking following its very underwhelming predecessor Under The Influence, this album's experimental qualities tend to be the prime dividing line separating those who love the hell out of it, and those who feel it is a bit overrated.

I honestly can't apply myself to either camp entirely, as this is definitely an album I constantly find myself rolling my eyes to as much as banging my head. However, it goes without question that the album crashes out of the gates with three instant classics. "Time To Kill" may seem unusual with a running time of over six minutes, but you hardly notice, especially once the thrash break comes around about halfway in. "Elimination" and "I Hate" are both great outlets for Blitz's vocal onslaught, which just ooze attitude out of every proverbial pore. After this point, the album throws a number of curve-balls with a number of extremely long, progressive tracks. "Skullkrusher" is a slow, doomish affair, that honestly doesn't flip many of the right switches to my ears. The title track is another hit-or-miss number that really picks up during the final two minutes, but not enough to save it from mediocrity. My favorite track is "Birth of Tension", which has some great vocal lines and plenty of clinical thrashing to go around.

As stated above, Blitz really shines here. At this point in the timeline, his voice has achieved a perfect rasp that only seems present on The Years of Decay, as his inflection would take a darker turn on Horrorscope and continue in that vein thereafter. Not only is his voice great, the lyrics are a great listen as well, saving some of the more otherwise average cuts like "Nothing To Die For" from filler status. Constantly endearing and entertaining. DD Verni's presence is prominent, but some of his low-end bite is sacrificed to the unusually compressed production job; more on that later. Gustafson's swansong with Overkill really makes you wonder why the band decided to part ways with him a year later. In interviews he claims to have written the lion's share of the album, and while plenty of neck-jerking riffs abound, the solos are where he truly shines here. The long, melodic solo in "Elimination" essentially makes the song what it is, and the riff at the beginning of "Birth of Tension" seals the song's fate as a classic before it even begins. Sid Falck's drumming improved from his debut with the group, but the overly dry, snappy mix on the drums takes a lot away from his presence. Some impressive double-bass ebbs and flows throughout many of the tracks, so not a bad deal, but he would blow this performance away on Horrorscope

Terry Date's production job on this one reminds me of the overproduced nature of Under The Influence a year before. The guitars suffer the least out of the whole ordeal; but as stated before, everything sounds very pluggy and snappy, which doesn't necessarily hurt matters during some of the choppier riffing patterns. The atmosphere suffers as a whole during longer cuts like "Who Tends The Fire", which just audibly fizzle out prematurely, leaving this listener expecting more from such an ambitious and progressive performance (for the time). The Years of Decay is definitely one to check out, but be aware of the disparity between tracks, as the longer cuts definitely aren't for everyone. A classic? I would say no, not quite. Still a barnburner, however.