Back in the day, thrash groups ruled the metal scene and they all put out a “classic” at one time; an album that most agreed was their best. These albums were required reading, and you HAD to have them in your collection if you were a metal fan. Megadeth had Rust In Peace, Anthrax had Among The Living, Slayer had Reign In Blood, Metallica had Master Of Puppets(or Ride The Lightning, depending on who you asked), and so on. Overkill had an album like that too: Horrorscope. They reached their peak, but no one seemed to notice outside the metal circle. They just didn’t “make it” for some reason even though they are considered a classic thrash group. Ironically enough, they’re the only one of the aforementioned groups that’s stayed true to their music and their fans. This album is very fast, very heavy and rivals the best of what Slayer and Megadeth did in their prime. Well, if you missed it the first time around(I’m guilty of that), it’s not too late to treat yourself. This album will take you back to when your booty was in high school drawing band logos on your notebooks; When you were dabbling in skateboarding and thought Metallica were godlike, totally oblivious to what they would become. And you yelled “SLAYER!” at every concert you went to. Yes, pick up Horrorscope. You’ll thank me later
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
I love this cd so much I had it tattooed on my left arm. Thats the logo and not the actuall cd. This is not only the best line up Overkill ever had it was also the best sounding. Production God Terry Date once again proves why he is one of if not the best in the biz. Opening up with fast head pounding Coma, non stop driving drums and mind blowing guitars each song has as much aggression as the next. Blood money, Thanx for nothin, and bare bones don’t stop. Not until we get to the self title song do we get a break from the lightning speed of this band. Again it takes off at the bands unbelievable cover of the Edgar Winter groups “Frankenstein”. Live young die free then have a nice funeral all in one day? After one hell of an headbangin cd they end it all with “Soulitude”. A chance to regain your energy to start it all over again!
Of the first few albums Overkill released, they outdid themselves in 1991, right about the same time most of the other late 80s thrash “gods” had started running out of juice. “Horrorscope” is the pinnacle of achievement reached after the promise of “Under the Influence” and “The Years of Decay,” both of which are strongly recommended as well.I do have a special memory of this album, as the tour supporting this record was one of the hardest, heaviest and fastest shows I had ever seen at the time, and it was pretty great considering the state of metal in 1991.
When Overkill ditched their guitarist Bobby Gustafson in 1990, many predicted the end for Thrash’s most enduring band. Few guitarists in the genre have ever been able to match his chops and technique, and for many fans, his playing provided much of the band’s personality. Fans were concerned Overkill without Gustafson would have been like Black Sabbath without Tony Iommi.
They needn’t have worried. `Horrorscope’ turned out to be Overkill’s most mature and most consistent release of their career to that point. The new guitar duo of Merritt Gant and Rob Cannavino proved to be a match even for a guitarist as good as Gustafson, and helped revitalise the band.
“Coma” starts with a haunting acoustic intro, before letting loose with a full on double kick drum and power chord typhoon. Immediately obvious- two guitars are heavier than one. Where DD Verni had often had to sacrifice a little of the bottom end to fill the vacant mid ranges now sat a second guitar. While studio trickery meant the rhythm guitar never dropped out during solos on previous Overkill albums, two guitars proved to be far more versatile, flexible and heavier.
Overkill’s unique character remained intact through the vocals of Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. While Blitz is not the best vocalist ever, he’s one of the most distinctive, and probably the most versatile to ever front a Thrash Metal band. From soaring pseudo-Operatics on “Coma” to the pessimistic wailing of “Soulitude”, Blitz covers a whole range of emotions, from rage to frustration, to bare faced aggression, sometimes within the space of a few lines.
Gustafson was hardly missed in the song writing department either. The band wrote riffs by the bucketload, with songs like “Blood Money” and “Thanx For Nothin’” featuring some of the best ever. There are a few slower, brooding songs with a feel similar to “Playing With Spiders/Skullcrusher” from previous album `The Years Of Decay’, although the focus is more on an atmosphere of despair and hopelessness than just playing slow to hit low frequencies. The grinding bass-led intro to the title track is an unstoppable juggernaut, creating a theme the rest of the song to build off without ever lifting the tempo above lumbering. “New Machine” features a closing passage which creates robotic, automaton imagery like a scene from the movie “Metropolis”.
While Overkill had always dealt with dark themes, the lyrics here had none of the camp silliness of older songs like “Hello From The Gutter”, “Brainfade” and “Hammerhead”. Instead, the lyrics on `Horrorscope’ pertain to living with a sense of hopelessness or helplessness, and the inevitability and finality of death. The closing couplet of “Nice Day… For A Funeral” and “Soulitude” reach the depths of sombre introspection. The songs deal in turn with death (“Yeah, the last of sunshine/Oh, ya know, for what it’s worth/Nice day for a funeral”) and it’s aftermath (“I remember here/Thought it was a dream/I never thought I’d come to this). While it may seem like a depressing way to finish an album, it is highly thought provoking.
Showing a maturity which only comes through self-confidence, `Horrorscope’ wasn’t exactly what fans were expecting, but few were disappointed by it. Overkill showed up more famous peers like Metallica, Megadeth and even Exodus, by shifting their focus without compromising their principles.
Overkill have got to be the most underrated thrash band ever, and this is probably the best album I’ve heard from them.(though it’s pretty close between this and Years of Decay) They’ve got greater variety than just about any other thrash band, a way above average singer and some of the most consistent riff-writing around. Plus, they have some of the better lyrics in the genre, and lack the stupid posturing lots of metal bands tend to disply. Simply put, no thrash fan should be without this album.
This album is noteworthy partially because it is one of the few straight-up old school thrash albums to actually have good production. The guitars are thick and clear, the drums thud nicely and it’s all balanced out very well. Fortunately, it has superior songwriting to go along with the excellent production. Each of the conventional, driving thrash songs works well, and it’s got a number of true classics. Coma is about everything you want from a thrash opener, although the intro is perhaps a bit too long. It’s got some of the best riffs on the album, and lotsa nice double bass too. Blood Money is probably the best straight ahead thrash song here. I absolutely love the chorus, and it’s got memorable vocals throughout. Definitely the most energetic song here too. Live Young, Die Free is an absolute clinic in thrash riff writing.(best riffs on the album for sure) All the riffs rule and they do a particularly good job of mutating the riffs.(Like how the main riff comes in has 2 main variants, one using triplets, the other alternate picking) It’s got another good chorus too. The title track is a masterpiece of grooving, atmospheric metal. Overkill does slow material better than any other thrash band, and this is about as good as it gets. The riffs are absolutely crushingly heavy and the drumming is agonizingly slow and powerful. It’s also got some really great vocals from Ellsworth.(As is typical of their slower songs.) The pair Nice Day For A Funeral and Soulitude close out the album as a single, 10 minute+ epic. Not as heavy as Horrorscope, but even more atmospheric, with more melody and some very nice lead work. The 2 choruses are great, once again. The chorus to Soulitude is pretty affecting, and it brings the album to a great close. The cover of Frankenstein is really cool too. It brings in a bit more melodicism and light-heartedness to the album, but it still thrashes pretty good.
That’s it. This is pretty much mandatory for thrash fans.