Saturday, April 13, 2013

Overkill - Horrorscope (1991)

Rising from the American Thrash metal era, Overkill hail from New Jersey. They are one of the most successful East Coast US metal bands and have released 16 studio albums, plus several live and EPs. Formed in 1980, they are still active today, although they have undertaken numerous line-up changes, their vocalist, Bobby "Blitz" has remained a constant.  
This is their sixth album. It is regarded as one of their defining moments and is their heaviest release, being more aggressive and darker than their earlier albums.

The cover folds out into a sort of poster, albeit one made up of printed squares. The front depicts their horned skeletal mascot - this time with hands, carressing a globe, in which screams a human face. The border is industrial, rivetted with skulls. The title, "Horrorscope" drips in bloody trails that are barely visible. One side of the fold out sheet holds the lyrics, the other band portraits and "Chaley" their winged, horned skull mascot.

It opens with the slow, technical chords of "Coma". Brooding, threatening, like stormclouds gathering on the horizon. Then they break, and we blast into the fantic, hectic strumming and Bobby "Blitz"'s distinctive half-scream, savage vocals.

"Infectious" begins with more chaotic strumming, racing, racing, galloping away headlong as Blitz's vocals snarl over it. Choruses are repetitive enough to sing (or scream) along, not that you feel particularly inclined. They're pretty much controlled, somewhat melodic, noise.

More racing guitars, and an intermitent drumming bring us our "Blood Money". Structurally similar to the preceeding tracks - fast, vocals like a vicious beast, intricate guitaring and some complex shredding in the solos as the guitarists war for dominance. Filled with pent-up aggression.
"Thanx for Nothin'" delivers more aggression; reflected in both the savage shredding and pounding drums, snarling vocals and savage lyrics:
"Thanks for nothin'. Yeah, I said nothin'. Next time better think. Think before you speak!"
 So angry... give me happy European metal any day.

Oooh, piano, a handful of notes, repetitive, like the soundtrack to a horror movie. The guitars roll over them, and still they persevere.  Giving it an eerie, otherworldlyness. Gone, the guitars have enveloped them. "Bare Bones" races at a breakneck speed, the drummer heading for wrist - or arm - injuries. Unrepentent. Furious.

Slower, more ominous, "Horrorscope" is the title track and was also the track selected for individual release. Technically competent. Intricate, jerky rhythms, the vocals are raw and ragged rasp. The chorus spat out like a threat:
"The change is here, the future clear - I can feel it com-ming!"
 Heavy rifts, pounding guitar. You know the drill. It's a "New Machine".

The instrumental "Frankenstein" is an epic powerhouse of duelling guitars, clashing with one another as they weave through the intricate chords.

"Live Young, Die Free". Fast, frantic. You get the idea. The drummer sure is getting qutie a workout!

Hardcore drumming, churning rifts. "Nice Day.... for a Funeral". Some nice slow bits, funereal, you might say.

And finally, we have a ballad - "Soulitude" brings the speed down and the vocals lower into a manner that is actually quite pleasing to the ear. Blitz can actually sing. So why doesn't he do it more often? Maybe he does on other albums. Even when it surges out of the singing and back into the screaming, it's with an emotional passion. It reminds me a little of Maiden, actually, except angrier.

Bit repetitive, bit too angry. Favourite songs are "Soulitude" and "Horrorscope", the others all tend to blur into one another and I can take 'em or leave 'em. The guitars are an almighty voice, Blitz's vicious snarling screams get a bit tedious after a time. I'd have to say, more than two tracks in a row just feels like... overkill.

I'm gonna rank it a 5/10.

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