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Twisted_Psychology, July 1st, 2009

Along with 1991’s "Horrorscope," this 1989 effort is often considered to be one of Overkill’s strongest albums to date. It features the band further expanding their songwriting repertoire and was the first to feature Soundgarden/Pantera producer Terry Date. Unfortunately, it was also the final album to feature founding guitarist Bobby Gustafson.

Musically, this could best be described as sort of a hybrid album for it combines the more epic nature of "Taking Over" with the more raw nature of "Feel the Fire" and "Under the Influence." As expected, the album seems to focus more on the thrash side of the band with these songs featuring fast paced riffs and venomous vocal lines. "Elimination" is worth noting for its strong chorus and Metallicaesque riffs, "I Hate" is made memorable by lyrics that sound incredibly whiny if someone else other than vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth was singing them (“I hate people that make you feel small/I hate having my back against the wall/You know, I hate being talked down to”), and "Birth of Tension" is made distinct by even stranger lyrics during the bridge (“did you kill your father, sleep with your mother/idolize your sister, jealous your brother/did ya kick the dog, were you beat a strap/were you really be abused, were you fakin' all that too”).

Despite associating themselves with the thrash metal movement for most of their career, Overkill can definitely write a great epic track when they feel like it. "Playing with Spiders/Skullkrusher" could very well be the greatest song the band has ever written and features pure Sabbath worship in the form of doom metal guitar riffs, impressively melodic croons throughout, an excellent chorus, and an appropriately faster bridge. "Who Tends the Fire" isn’t quite as impressive but still features some cool tempo changes and the title track is a pretty strong ballad track. Also worth noting is the inclusion of "E.Vil N.Ever D.Ies." The final installment of the Overkill saga until 2007’s "Immortalis," the song starts off in a doom style before going into more intense territory for the verses and choruses.

Aside from Blitz being his usual self, I have found that this album’s one true flaw is an occasional feeling of unoriginality. Several songs have parts or structures that are eerily similar to other songs performed by their peers with Metallica being the most recurring band. The introduction to "Elimination" has a few riffs that are identical to Metallica’s "Master of Puppets," the introduction in "Who Tends the Fire" has a building rhythm similar to that of Diamond Head’s "Am I Evil?," and "E.Vil N.Ever D.Ies" has an overall structure similar to that of Metallica’s "Damage Inc." On the other hand, I feel as though the main riff of Exodus’s "AWOL" may have been inspired by the upbeat grooves on "Nothing to Die For."

Overall, this is pretty much required listening for any thrash metal fan and worth checking out for the doom metal tracks as well.

1) Great guitar riffs, backing bass, and charismatic vocals
2) Not a trace of filler to be found

1) A few traces of unoriginal songwriting can be found on occasion
2) Like any Overkill album, the vocals are of an acquired taste

My Current Favorites:
"Elimination," "I Hate," "Playing with Spiders/Skullkrusher," "Who Tends the Fire," and "E.Vil N.Ever D.Ies"