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Quality product of its environment. - 90%

Diamhea, August 14th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1991, VHS, Atlantic Records

Words cannot describe how difficult this one was to track down. Videoscope is an eternally-obscure VHS tape that found availability as a companion piece of sorts to the thrashterpiece Horrorscope. It has never been reissued in any form, and the only other medium through which any of the footage shot specifically for this tape can be viewed is the official music video for "Thanx for Nothin," which in itself is just an amalgamation of random live and backstage footage. Heavily used copies of Videoscope typically fetch upwards of $50 on eBay and other online auction websites, rendering a viewing of this material something close to surreal.

Although I have made no secret of my personal preference for Horrorscope over the years, what cannot be argued is that the band viewed its release as a watershed juncture going forward; a true make or break moment that put all of the momentum gained throughout the '80s at stake. Even if Horrorscope itself undersold, the quality of the material within cannot be argued. I Hear Black ended up charting (in 1993 of all years) shortly afterward, almost certainly a direct result of fans expecting another stratospheric slab of East Coast thrash. These soaring expectations made I Hear Black that much harder a pill to swallow, and the subsequent waves of influence initially rippled by Overkill's '91 opus continue to this day. There is a reason the band decided to use a mockup of the album cover as the coveted backdrop for the epic Wrecking Everything: Live.

Although the dudes expectantly glance over Gustafson's then-fresh departure, they are reasonably candid and transparent regarding the earliest days of the band. Blitz recalls an entertaining quip about how he was tricked into attending his first rehearsal under the prospective guise of playing bass, only to be conscripted into frontman status instead. Pisarek is mentioned (although not by name), nor does he receive credit for coming up with the name Overkill, which I found sort of lame. Long-forgotten axe-wielders Gant and Cannavino are featured extensively, however. Simply put, there isn't much video footage out there spanning their five years with the band, so Videoscope is worth its weight in gold for those that prefer this iteration of Overkill over the Gustafson years. Cannavino comes off as more carefree, and surprisingly shares a lot of personality quirks with the man he replaced. Gant joined later on, and found himself on the receiving end of a lot of good-hearted hazing. He is clearly a guitarist's guitarist, generously radiating technical terminology in a manner that ironically reflects his specialized playing style.

Falck's impending departure cannot be guessed at all throughout, and one can sense the maturity that over a decade in the music business had taught Overkill by this point. Verni and Blitz aren't starry-eyed teens anymore, a notion elucidated when Verni takes a moment to explain how he doesn't take "no" for an answer. His steely gaze locks with the camera, and for a moment I can finally see first-hand the determination that helped make the first post-Gustafson record the band's masterwork. Throughout these short interviews and snippets of live rehearsal footage, the first four music videos are strategically placed along with short interjections courtesy of Blitz. The void left by Gustafson's departure is felt the most here, as he was responsible for the concept and editing for "Elimination," which remains the most understated yet professionally appealing video in the band's resume.

So there we have it, Videoscope. For its time, the high-resolution variants of all four music videos available at a click of the play button were nearly enough on their own to warrant the price tag. For me, it serves as a valuable snapshot into the trenchant inner-workings of my favorite Overkill lineup, a lineup that while short-lived, achieved a tremendous, genre-defining high in Horrorscope. Even so, you can't call yourself a true fan of the green and black without appreciating the way Verni and crew rebounded after Bobby's dismissal. The list of victims seems to grow...