Review Summary: Full of imagination and originality, Overkill’s fourth studio album is the ideal thrash experience.
There are few bands in the world of thrash that deserve the amount of respect Overkill has earned in their lengthy career. Although names like Megadeth or Metallica are always brought up when talking about the founders of thrash, Overkill was actually formed on the east coast in 1980 before either of those bands were in existence. They may not have an album quite as amazing as “Rust In Peace” or as consistent as “Ride The Lightning”, but in many ways the NJ based group have earned their title as one of the most important bands in thrash. It’s safe to say sixteen full length albums don’t go unnoticed, but it’s albums like their breathtaking fourth album “The Years Of Decay” that really justify their place among the biggest thrashers.
Released in 1989, “The Years Of Decay” is an excellent thrash album in just about every way imaginable. From the unique high pitched vocals to the beautiful guitar work on songs like the title track, the album is both varied and consistent and proves to be a real milestone for the band. Bobby Blitz is one of the most original sounding vocalists in the genre and he’s surely one of the strong points on the album. His high screeches are likely to please fans of hair metal, but he also has enough aggression in his voice to fit this genre perfectly. Like many thrash albums, “The Years of Decay” starts out with one of its most enjoyable songs, leaving a great first impression on the listener with it’s enormous and creative guitar riffs. In fact, it’s easily one of the best songs Overkill has ever written. All the instruments work together seamlessly to create quite the thrash experience until the song finally ends with a tasteful guitar solo accompanied by violent drums and loud guitars as Blitz screams his final angry lines…”Time to Kill….NOOOWWW!!” It’s an intense and exciting way for Overkill to kick off their fourth studio album.
One of the problems with a band putting their best tracks in the beginning of the album is the rest of the experience may pale in comparison. This has happened in many great thrash albums such as Testament’s “Practice What You Preach”, which had some truly great moments, but unfortunately most of them were in the first half of the album. Thankfully, Overkill avoid this pitfall and some of the later tracks on the album are just as impressive as the earlier offerings. Before the album’s stellar closer, we are given the somber and unexpected title track. It not only proves that Blitz can actually sing, but that he can sing quite well. It starts slowly with perhaps his best vocals on the album, before exploding into a dark thrash ballad packed to the brim with impressive solos and memorable riffs. Overkill seems to be a rather generous band however, as they have saved their final masterpiece for the end. ‘E.vil N.ever D.ies’ closes the album as fashionably as it starts as it is one of the most creative and earth shattering thrashers on the entire record. It starts out slowly, giving the listener the sense they’re in for another ballad until it shifts gears and nearly bludgeons the listener to death with some the meanest guitar riffs and drums on the entire album.
Those looking for a good record to thrash to can’t really go wrong with an album like Overkill’s “The Years Of Decay”. Although it was released over twenty years ago, it still holds up surprisingly well today and remains one of the band’s most impressive releases to date. Whether you like high pitched vocals in the vein of Rob Halford or you’re looking for a poignant metal ballad, there seems to be something for everybody on Overkill’s fourth release. It’s overflowing with some of the most original vocals in the genre and some of the most creative riffs I’ve have had the pleasure of hearing, making it one of the most consistent albums in thrash.