The Years of Decay was Bobby Gustafsons last album as Overkills guitarist, and it’s quite obvious that the band needed some new inspiration. This is a pretty bland record and a lot of the songs just sound uninspired and half assed.
It’s unfair to blame Gustafson for the tired sound and feel of the record, but things did change after he left. But this record was released in 1989 and should have seen the band hitting their stride as this was the height of thrash metal popularity. I get the feeling that this record was pushed through and rushed out. Releasing a full album a year is a stressful thing and it’s clearly pushing the band to their creative limits.
The opener, Time to Kill, is one of the highlights of the album. The riff is one of the better ones and chorus is full on addictive, to the point when I remember the whole track from just reading the title. Elimination is a bland number, the riff is crap and lyrics are horrid. Why they chose this song as a single and even released a video for it, I just don’t understand.
I hate on the other hand is amazing. A solid riff, a stomper of a beat and fun fun sing-along lyrics. This should have been the lead single. The next two tracks do nothing for me and seem like filler material. The B-side starts off great with Birth of Tension. This is a well-crafted song, where everything melts together in a natural way. Who Tends the Fire is an eight minute track of boredom. The Years of Decay is also above the eight minute mark, but is more interesting and with some absolutely amazing guitarleads. DDs bass sound really comes through on this track.
For some reason the Overkill series of songs has stayed consistently great and as on the previous albums the closer is from this line of tracks, even though this isn’t titled as it, E.vil N.ever D.ies is part of the series. It has the quality, the lyrics, the riff and bassline of a great song and still part of the setlist, I think.
I kind of want to this album to get a higher rating, because I put it on quite often. The case is that when I get into it, it’s not that great a record. It has a reputation as a classic thrash record, but it’s nowhere near the classics in my opinion. It lacks the overall quality, even though it has a few classic tracks.
Recommended tracks: Time to Kill, E.vil N.ever D.ies, Birth of tension