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Overkill: The Years of Decay - 57%

Never_Enough, July 1st, 2016
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Megaforce Records

The term "Overrated" is often abused these days. Whether if they're referring to movies, music, or video games, there will always be an asshole claiming that something is overrated just because they don't enjoy that particular thing very much. Nothing is inherently overrated. You just don't like something as much as the majority of people do. Your feelings come less from the actual thing and more so from the opinions of others. Yet the term is eschewed into being given more meaning. People also seem to have forgot that overrated doesn't necessarily equate to bad. I try not to use the term. However, I can't think of any other word that perfectly describes The Years of Decay. To me, it's mediocre and no one seems to agree with me.

Let's start out with the positive side of this album, shall we? Bobby Blitz is giving a killer performance on here. His unique, ear-piercing, shrieks perfectly compliment the instrumentation and allow him to sing at breakneck speed. Most thrash metal vocalists tend to sing at pace close to the tempo of the song. However, Bobby is able to subdivide his vocals tempo to match the speed of the guitars as oppose to the rhythm section. His vocal style gives him great flexibility, so it doesn't sound like he's going to pass out. He doesn't just stick to that method though. He can go deeper in his range while adding in some rasp to his voice. Hell, I'd be lying if I told you that he didn't give his best performance on this album. His vocals on here cement him as one of the best vocalists of thrash metal. Don't get me wrong , I can see why someone might despise his vocals. I mean, Why would anyone like hearing a man get his testicle caught in a garlic press? Call me a sadist, but that's exactly why I like Bobby's vocals.

The positives don't just start and end with the vocals though. Bobby Gustafson gives some excellent solos on this album. He's less about catchy riffs and more about the shred. Most of the riffs off this album are hard-hitting, but aren't the most expertly crafted. Bobby's solos more than make up for it though. Play to your strengths, I guess. D.D. Verni's bass playing is also something to be amazed by. He creates these beautiful licks and interweaves them into the songs. It plays off Bobby's guitar nicely and establishes a powerful low end to the music. All of this is enhanced by the production. Generally, It's a rule of thumb that the production doesn't make an album, but instead enhances the overall sound. I'm not an audiophile myself, but even I have to give credit where credit is due. The album is able to sound big while only having four members. The band's got some big names behind the engineering like Jon Zazula and Terry Date. I've always been a fan of Terry Date's production style even if his name is attached to some nu metal excrement like Limp Bizkit and Staind.

Like I alluded to before, I still think this album is bad. The biggest problem to my mind is the songwriting. There are tons of moments were the lyrics are awkwardly executed and sometimes ruin the whole song. Like the track "Time to Kill" revolves around this theme of a serial killer obsessed with the concept of time. For one, inserting the phrase everywhere in the song with only slight differences isn't clever. Second, lines like, "Violent indecision, Surge of mass religion" relate in no way to the topic of the song. The song itself is satisfactory, but it's ruined by the lyrics. The lyrics on some songs are just plain fucking stupid. "I Hate" is a prime offender in this case. They just detail all the things that the song's protagonist hates in his daily life. The protagonist also tries really hard to sound incredibly simple-minded and hulk-like in his diction. Anyway, the composition of these songs suck ass as well. I love the song "Elimination", but did it need so many unnecessary passages and transitions. Songs like "Time to Kill" and "I Hate" will have intros that build-up to an astounding disappointment when the verses come in. They're not even properly fed into the verses. It's just turns on a fucking dime. Not only that, but some of the songs off The Years of Decay are too Goddamn long. "Playing with Spiders/Skullkrusher", "Who Tends the Fire", and the title track could've all been summed up in 5 minutes, but are stretched to the breaking point at 8-10 minutes. Look, I'm pretty fickle about long songs, so knowing that I'm going to have to sit through these behemoths multiple times sends shivers down my spine. Overkill aren't incredible songwriters. They can't pull off 10 minute long tracks and not expect people to get bored out of their minds.

Overall, I do not recommend The Years of Decay. It houses a handful of excellent songs like "Nothing to Die For", "Elimination", and "Birth of Tension". Besides that, the album is considerably dull and unnecessarily long at 56 minutes. The songwriting is weak which is a shame, because it's backed up with powerful instrumentation and vocals. I still can't comprehend how so many people claim that this is Overkill's best album. I'd choose Taking Over or Horrorscope long before I'd consider this as their best album. To put it simply, this album is overrated.