Reviews for The Years of Decay have been overwhelmingly positive. AllMusic's Jason Anderson awards the album four-and-a-half stars out of five, calling it a "classic by the group's fans" and that it "is often mentioned as the pinnacle of the East Coast thrashers' recording career".The Years of Decay entered the Billboard 200 on February 17, 1990, peaking at #155 and remaining charted for eight weeks, making it Overkill's fourth highest-charting album to date. As of 2013 the only song from the album that hasn't been played live is "Nothing to Die For". According to frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, the final track, "E.vil N.ever D.ies", is a continuation of the "Overkill" series of songs from their previous three albums, but was not named "Overkill IV"; this would be the last song of the series until 2007's Immortalis, which featured the most recent part in "Overkill V... The Brand". As of 2012, The Years of Decay had sold over 178,000 copies in the U.S. and over 4 million copies worldwide.