Written by: Blackie Skulless
Imagine trying to follow up perfection; you really can’t. But you can bring forth something nearly as incredible, especially when it still blows minds thirty years after its release. Overkill had hit their peak complexity in songwriting in 1989 (regardless of how you feel about the songs themselves), and really had to come up with something mind-blowing on Horrorscope. While that may be tough in the eyes of some, they could at least offer something different, and with that I open by saying that the guitar tones alone here are what likely led to what we ended up with on The Killing Kind.
Except the thrash metal angle was still in full control, and the attitude was amped up a step from before. Though the guitars may feel a bit warmer than before, that allows them to cut with a smoother sweep due to how sharp they are. The fact that there’s such a clear space between the notes while still holding the speeds that were present on Feel The Fire is impressive beyond belief. The way they tie it all together with little licks, such as the backing ring in opener “Coma” kicks some serious ass, and this song is also a fantastic example of how they cram so much density into such warm speed-riffing.
Along with the insane and grating riff attack, Sid Falck’s drumming alone is a beast of its own. Many like to attack the cover of “Frankenstein,” but I love it for the drums alone, before the fact that it totally defiles a song that’s so clean with some of the angriest tones 1991 had to offer. The obvious standout in this regard is the fuming “Thanx For Nothing,” a bit of a staple for the fans who go beyond just the surface. “Nice Day… For A Funeral” takes this and boosts it with a gradual course to speed, and drops bombing sequences of start/stop mono-chords. The crawling guitars in the bridge to the solo are some of my favorites, and I think this is the influence of what came prior shining it’s beautiful head.
Given all of this talk of the immaculate instrumentation, I couldn’t even point out the attitude pressed deep into Blitz’s vocals. Even D.D.’s backing shouts match those. This comes back to my biggest point that while I like a few other albums better, I still think this one holds the hottest flame in regards to mean delivery. Horrorscope serves this in several different fashions, which is a key factor to its greatness. “Blood Money” integrates the aforementioned crazy speeds with Bobby’s grittier vocals, tied off with a higher howl in the chorus. On the other hand, “New Machine'' snaps on this same anger with slower, drawn-out vocals over a steadier, galloping riff.
Not enough? Let’s look at the doomier number; the amazing title track. The band really took the success of that idea from before and dumped all of its influence into this lone, furious tune. Though it’s the slowest one save for closer “Soulitude” (which ends things on the most somber, empty note it could), it’s probably the most threatening as well. Between the scorching lyrics, the equally burning-hot rhythms, the stagnant “power-stance” bridge, the suspense leading to the chorus, and finally the actual banger of a chorus itself, you’ve got what’s easily the heaviest, most paralyzing song on here. I think the doomy piano and intro in “Bare Bones” was the perfect song to precede it, so props for more solid placement.
Considering this disc is now in its thirtieth year, I’d say it seriously stood the test of time. To this day, that bass howl and lead guitar that fades in on the title track still gives me goosebumps and gets me excited. Overkill did everything they should have done in regards to changing the formula to avoid stagnation. They did it without alienating their style, and allowed itself to transition into what would come next. As much as I love I Hear Black, I absolutely understand why fans at the time may have been disappointed. Talk about a proverbial bully of a record! Not a single nice note exists on the entire thing.
Overkill - Horrorscope was released September 3, 1991 via Atlantic & Megaforce Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!