Overkill
The Years of Decay


4.5
superb

Review

by Chris Carney USER (6 Reviews)
October 23rd, 2006 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist


Overkill is probably the most underrated thrash metal band in history. They formed in the New Jersey/ New York area in the early eighties, originally playing punk covers, with a few metal songs mixed in. Later, they converted into a full-fledged thrash outfit. Though they’re credited as one of, if not the first, thrash band, they don’t get nearly as much recognition as other artists of the genre that emerged around the same time, namely metal titans Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer. Thankfully, Overkill has never changed their music to appeal to a more mainstream audience, like a certain band previously mentioned in this review that I will not name. In fact, they really haven’t changed there sound since their first album, Feel The Fire, keeping true to their roots with a shocking consistency. The Years Of Decay was released in 1989 by a lineup that included Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth (vocals), Bobby Gustafson (guitar), D.D. Verni (bass), and Sid Falck (drums). It is Overkill’s greatest achievement, and even though they’re still going strong and enjoying a boost in popularity since headlining the second stage of Gigantour 2006, they will probably never match it.

The Years Of Decay was released in 1989 by a lineup that included Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth (vocals), Bobby Gustafson (guitar), D.D. Verni (bass), and Sid Falck (drums). The main turn-off for most people are the vocals of Ellsworth. He has a high, nasally voice throughout most of the album, with a few exceptions, such as most of the song Skullkrusher. It sounds almost like Axl Rose, Rob Halford, and even lower-range King Diamond at times. However, I’ve heard very few people swear by Dave Mustaine or James Hetfield’s vocals, and, whether you like his voice or not, he hits every note and never sings out of key, which is a big deal for a thrash singer. His lyrics are good overall, and when they do get a little immature, he delivers them with the appropriate sense of humor. Just listen to the first few lines of Elimination, you’ll understand what I’m getting at. The rest of the band rarely falters. In Gustafson’s last performance with Overkill, he does not disappoint. His riffs are solid and technical, his tone is unrelenting, and his solos are good. They’re not quite as technical as, say, Megadeth, but he changes things up and stays away from shredding too much. Keep in mind that this is thrash, and shredding is still the name of the game, but solos like the one on the title track are refreshing.

D.D. Verni’s bass is another disputed point of Overkill’s overall sound. It’s distorted at times, and he tends to stray from what Gustafson is playing quite often, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it. However, he is a phenomenal bassist, and is allowed far more time to shine than the overrated (but still incredible) Cliff Burton (R.I.P.) The chorus of Elimination has a great bass riff in it that really carries that section of the song, and Who Tends The Fire as well as Nothing To Die For feature the bass at different points. Sid Falck finally steps up to the plate on this one, after disappointing performances on the band’s first few releases. There are nice fills scattered throughout, as well as some damn solid double bass work on The Birth Of Tension.

Variety is the spice of life. I don’t know who the hell said that, but it certainly applies to The Years Of Decay. Granted, they don’t stray from metal, but they definitely throw some curveballs at you during this one. After the first four straight-up thrashers, you begin to think that’s all that you’re going to get, but Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher dismisses that notion quite quickly. The first half is Sabbath-esque doom metal, with some interesting lyrics. Around 4:45, though, it switches into a more thrash-oriented song, before twisting into a layered solo that could have been written by Tony Iommi. Birth Of Tension is a well-done metal track that switches speeds quite a bit, and, as previously mentioned, featured some great drumming from Sid Falck. The next two, Who Tends The Fire and The Years Of Decay, are softer. In fact, the title track is most definitely a ballad, even though both of the songs have faster, distorted parts in the middle. E.vil N.ever D.ies is the fastest, most brutal song on the album, and would be nearly perfect if it weren’t for the completely unnecessary clean toned fills during the chorus. Ellsworth’s final vicious scream is cut short, and thus the album ends.

Review Summary: Lesser-known thrash band Overkill put out a true classic of the genre. The Years Of Decay is right up there with Rust In Peace and Master Of Puppets, and has more variety within it than those two put together. Even the thrash songs are varied, from more punk-influenced ones (I Hate) to just straight-up speed and aggression (E.vil N.ever D.ies). The guitars, while not as good as some, are above average, as are the drums, and D.D. Verni rocks the bass with power and precision. Ellsworth’s vocals may annoy some, but they are never sloppy, and it can be argued that he is one of the best vocalists in the genre (says a lot about thrash). A great album from start to finish, that lacks so minimally in a few areas that it is still deserving of praise, but not quite good enough to reach the perfection of a 5

Reccomended Tracks:
Elimination
I Hate
Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher
The Years Of Decay



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user ratings (415)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
Aaron CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
Full of imagination and originality, Overkill’s fourth studio album is the ideal thrash experience...

Drew Tyler (5)
Overkill's defining album; A true classic of thrash metal...

RCA (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
carney3110
October 23rd 2006


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Alright, another review. Feedback, as always, is greatly appreciated. I'm thinking about reviewing Horrorscope and maybe some older stuff, since this site really does have a lack of Overkill...

Mikesn
Emeritus
October 23rd 2006


3709 Comments


Great review, you're off to an excellent start.

Pretty good album, but the vocals were kind of a turn off. It was more of a grower for me.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

carney3110
October 23rd 2006


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Not so great vocals... that seems to be a trend in the reviews that I do.

carney3110
October 24th 2006


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Jesus Christ... I know Overkill isn't very popular, but 3 comments? And 2 of them are mine...

Dethtrasher
October 24th 2006


2211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, perhaps you could use some italics and bold stuff to make the review a bit more eye-catching.
One more thing, I love everything about this band. I think the vocals are great, it makes the band very unique alongside D.D's audible bass.
I think that you should put Who Tends The Fire instead of Playing With Spiders, but thats just my opinion.
Keep up the good work! :thumb:

Mikesn
Emeritus
October 24th 2006


3709 Comments


Haha, quite a few of my reviews don't really get to many comments either. Mostly power metal bands, but even Judas Priest and Megadeth...

carney3110
October 27th 2006


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I would love to put some stuff in bold and italics, but, as Miksn probably already knows, I'm not very good on the computer. I'll try some different stuff, though. And Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher is my favorite Overkill song. Who Tends The Fire is good, but the middle section where they speed up doesn't do anything for me.This Message Edited On 10.27.06

Dethtrasher
October 27th 2006


2211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with you about Who Tends, I love the slow parts but that fast section is a bit of a turn off.

Mart0001
November 2nd 2006


31 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great review. Too bad that the band and this album are very underrated. If only this album was released in 1986...

carney3110
November 5th 2006


310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanx for the praise, guys. More Overkill reviews to come, as soon as I get to it.

LifeInABox
November 10th 2006


3709 Comments


good music, horrible vocalist

BELMoNT
June 10th 2008


43 Comments


Overkill = most underrated thrash band
Great review

KyokushinMaster
September 23rd 2011


182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and is allowed far more time to shine than the overrated (but still incredible) Cliff Burton (R.I.P.)

??? Overrated No! More time to shine NO! (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth? Call of Ktulu? Orion? heck even To Live is to Die is mainly his bass riff!

like the review and great album. just didn't agree with the Cliff thing.

TheNotrap
September 23rd 2011


8108 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Elimination kicks serious ass

Digging: Threshold - For The Journey

DestroyHim
June 15th 2012


173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

'However, I’ve heard very few people swear by Dave Mustaine or James Hetfield’s vocals, whether you like his voice or not, he hits every note and never sings out of key '

lol half the album he's just wailing in no particular key.. james hetfield is/was an awesome thrash singer

jayfatha
June 15th 2012


2882 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I HATE HAVING MY BACK AGAINST THE WALL

miketunneyiscool123
August 31st 2014


659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

SKULLKRUSHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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