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A highlight in their career - 98%

morbert, October 10th, 2007

Overkill has always been around in the thrash metal scene since the early days releasing albums regularly throughout the years and keeping the flame burning. With some albums emerging from the masses and with others unfortunately being generic and dull. Overkill has not become a household name because all their albums were great (only a few are actually) but because of their resilience and persistence in continuing all these years.

The thrash metal highlights of their career we’re their first 5 albums (1985-1991). During the nineties the band went experimenting and grooving as a lot of eighties thrash metal would do. “The Years Of Decay” is one of those Overkill albums that exceeded expectations and can be considered a classic eighties album in their discography as well as the genre in its entirety. The album combined their familiar up tempo thrash from their earlier albums with a lot of slower, melodic and lengthy moments but WITHOUT losing power and still being thrash metal. Overkill have never achieved this again since.

‘Time To Kill’ had some old school Metallica breaks and moments (Bobby Gustafson has always been a Hetfield acolyte, remember their video for ‘Hello From The Gutter’), but the great drums and typical vocals of Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth make it a recognisable and tight Overkill composition. ‘Elimination’ is a mid tempo pounder with extremely dynamic screeching vocals and a very strong chorus. The video of this song was the reason I bought this album in the first place. A classic Overkill tune.

‘I Hate’ and ‘Nothing To Die For’ are two typical quality Overkill thrashers but with more variation that we were used to, filled with riffs, breaks and remaining catchy still. Same goes for the quality thrashers ‘Birth of Tension’ and ‘E.vil N.ever D.ies’. On ‘Playing With Spiders / Skullkrusher’ the band achieved writing an inspiring 10 minute doom-thrash epic that might take some time getting used to but looking back can be considered a daring anthem. I like the song but I wouldn’t want to see them perform it live to be honest.

‘Who Tends the Fire’ and ‘The Years of Decay’ are two lengthy but very varied songs that have some powerballad moments without getting cheesy but having an eerie atmosphere as well as real thrash metal riffing and breaks. Ellsworth shows his true potential on these songs which show he can also ‘sing’ instead of just screaming around (which he also does with flair on this album by the way).

The production was clear and heavy. I especially like hearing the bass guitar in this amount. When first hearing this album when you’re normally used to their up tempo thrash metal assault, the album opens a whole dimension to the world of Overkill but will keep your head banging. Unfortunately it turned out to be the last one with Bobby Gustafson who remains in my eighties hall of fame.