Overkill - Horrorscope
Atlantic
Thrash Metal
11 songs (53:06)
Release year: 1991
Overkill, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Bar
Archive review

It seems to me that most metal bands, for whatever reason, reach a point in their careers where they feel as though they must make an album that proves they’ve “grown up”. For better or worse, Overkill came to that decision the year 1991, having previously put out some of the most energetic and lively Thrash monsters ever committed to disc. Although 1989’s The Years of Decay had already introduced more varied song structures and longer compositions, this album seemed a conscious attempt to demonstrate that they could transcend the traditional limitations of Thrash. Lesser bands have attempted much the same only to crash and burn, but Overkill’s chief songwriters Bobby Blitz and D.D. Verni are no one-trick ponies, and this album works a bloody treat.

Now, even though this is a more mature sounding effort, I should stress it still sounds unmistakably like Overkill. I mean, how could it not? As soon as you hear Blitz’s preposterously effective, one-of-a-kind vocals storming in a minute and half into opening track Coma, there’s just no way you could think you were listening to any other band. As he does on just about every track he’s ever recorded, he simply lights the song on fire and sets it to explode. With his presence, a half-decent riff becomes a great one, and in the case of Coma, a great riff becomes legendary. It’s a triumph of an opener, first setting the stage with an atmospheric build-up, then knocking it out of the park with the afore-mentioned riff and vocals, before winding up with a bridge or two and some excellent lead guitar work. Most of this is played at top speed, too, getting the album off to a ripping start.

The next few tracks really keep the momentum going, with much of the album’s fastest and/or heaviest material appearing on the first half. Infectious is just that, an utterly catchy and monstrous piece of music that is one of the all-time most perfect examples of how to incorporate groove into your Thrash while still leaving the music’s balls intact. An Overkill classic. The next three or four tracks up to and including the title track all follow suit, and ultimately the first half of this disc is as good, or even better than, anything these boys from New York have ever done. After the title track, the album does begin to lose its stranglehold on me a little. There’s nothing that’s obviously filler (well…maybe the Edgar Winter cover) but compared to the enormity of the first half, it just loses a tiny bit of steam. It’s not bad music by any stretch of the imagination, I just think the album’s running time is perhaps a little long for it's own good. At any rate, an obvious exception is Live Young, Die Free which might be the best damn song on the entire album. It keeps the album from being completely top-heavy and helps elevate the status of the entire album in the process.

Having been much too young at the time, it’s hard for me to say exactly when Overkill transcended their upstart image and became the truly legendary Thrash act that we know today. What I do know is that Horrorscope definitely hasn’t hurt their legacy one bit. This one made it five from five, and moreover, demonstrated that they had the ability to change up their style without losing any of their swagger. That all of this was achieved amid potentially catastrophic line-up changes (they lost their lead guitarist and drummer!) is all the more impressive. Another jewel in the discography of a bloody good band, and easily one of the best Thrash albums of the 90s.

Killing Songs :
Coma, Infectious, Blood Money, Thanx for Nothing, Bare Bones, Horrorscope, Live Young Die Free
Bar quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Overkill that we have reviewed:
Overkill - White Devil Armory reviewed by Thomas and quoted 85 / 100
Overkill - The Electric Age reviewed by Thomas and quoted 96 / 100
Overkill - Killbox 13 reviewed by Thomas and quoted 78 / 100
Overkill - Fuck You reviewed by Thomas and quoted no quote
Overkill - Ironbound reviewed by Thomas and quoted 96 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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