“THE GRINDING WHEEL”
Album Review By Iron Mathew
Overkill are a thrash metal band from the USA forming in 1980 as Virgin Killer, quickly changing their name to Overkill and releasing their debut album, ‘Feel The Fire’, in 1985. ‘Under The Influence’ and ‘Years Of Decay’, released in 1988 and 1989, set the world of thrash metal alight and Overkill became a household name the world over. In a career spanning nearly four decades, Overkill have released eighteen studio albums with every one of them a thrash metal assault of the highest standard. The years have not diminished the bands desire or passion and 2012’s ‘The Electric Age’ was their first album to break into the Billboard Top 100 at number 77 with 2014’s ‘White Devil Amory’ reaching number 31. The bands latest album ‘The Grinding Wheel’ was released in February 2017.
If ever there was a band you could rely on to deliver every time they release an album, then legends Overkill would be among those at the top of the pile. For nearly four decades the American thrash metal band have pleased and excited their legions of fans time and time again, and with the release of their eighteenth studio album, they are about to do the same…and more… Opening the new album is the seven minute plus ‘Mean Green Killing Machine’. Packing a harder punch than a heavy weight boxing champion, ‘Mean Green Killing Machine’ will pound and pummel your senses and have you wrecking your neck like a mad one as the gigantic riffs and thunderous rhythms cascade through the airways. Duelling guitars scream and screech and the unique voice of singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth is as powerful and passionate as it always has been. Increasing pace and speeding like a bullet, ‘Goddamn Trouble’ is a thrash metal assault straight out of the top drawer. Addictive and infectious, ‘Goddamn Trouble’ will have you thrashing like a maniac, head swinging ferociously back and forth. Overkill are back, and back with a massive bang. Pace is increased again as ‘Our Finest Hour’ hits maximum velocity as it powers on and on. Great guitar work and an even greater vocal performance, ‘Our Finest Hour’ is almost prophetic as Overkill have had so many “finest hours” over the years. With recent releases by superstars of thrash metal Kreator, Megadeth, Sodom, Death Angel, Destruction, Anthrax and Testament breathing new fire into the genre, Overkill have had to produce an astounding album, and after just three songs, it’s looking good.
Overkill have never just been an out and out, pedal to the floor thrash metal band, they have incorporated a catchy groove element from time to time and in the shape of ‘Shine On’ you can detect an infectious underlying groove that will have you tapping your feet in accompaniment to vigorous head banging. Overkill have an immense talent to easily shift gear from fast pace to slow pace, high tempo to low and introduce touches of other genres to keep their songs interesting, intriguing and alive. ‘The Long Road’ begins with a charismatic “whoa” chant that will be screamed at live venues everywhere and when the pace changes ‘The Long Road’ becomes a thunderous thrash metal ride. Secrets to longevity in the music industry, is (obviously) great music, but also a willingness to experiment and push boundaries and as a vocalist, taking care of your voice. Bobby has done that and actually sounds better now than he did back in the mid eighties…not bad for someone who is pushing the sixty year age bracket. Dropping the pace and heavying things up ‘Let’s All Go To Hades’ strides majestically into sight and then turns it around and picks up the pace. Less thrash metal and more heavy metal, ‘Let’s All Go To Hades’ is infectious, addictive and catchy…features not all bands can master, however Overkill are masters and easily achieve it, as if it is the most natural thing in the world. The album clocks in at just over one hour in length with five songs over six minutes, and two of those stretching past the seven minute mark. ‘The Grinding Wheel’ (the album) is most definitely worth the money and is of superb value.
The groove element returns in full force with ‘Come Heavy’ and maybe just a little touch of boogie…just the littlest touch! There is however, a blistering mid section that is blindingly quick and will have heads banging furiously. The quality of song writing, recording and production is top notch, but what else would you expect from a band that has been at the top of their game for almost forty years? Now, for those of you thinking that the years may have slowed the band down, you’re wrong, as ‘Red, White And Blue’ will testify. Scorching guitars and a thunderous rhythm sees ‘Red, White And Blue’ forge a devastating path through the airways. Overkill have a skill level so high they can deliver brutal riffs alongside the most catchy and melodic rhythms to produce the most addictive and memorable songs. ‘Red, White And Blue’ is one of those songs and believe me when I tell you, you will be humming and singing it for a long time to come. ‘The Wheel’ is a superb example of the speed/thrash metal genre should sound like. Aggressive guitars duel, the rhythm more than gallops, it races and the vocals are top notch, clean and clear. With such a great collection of songs to enjoy it is hard to believe that the final song is coming and the album will come to and end … but don’t worry, you can always press the replay button. ‘The Grinding Wheel’ brings a glorious album to a glorious finish with a punch and a crunch, heavy guitars and an even heavier rhythm. ‘The Grinding Wheel’ (the song) is a majestic and colossal foot stomp of mid tempo thrash metal, that becomes an out and out speed treat as the pace dramatically changes midway through. Overkill have done it again…produced another superb album to reinforce their position at the forefront of the thrash metal genre.
Overall, a sparkling album of powerful thrash metal, cascading with addictiveness and infectiousness to keep Overkill at the pinnacle of the thrash metal genre.
Mean Green Killing Machine
Our Finest Hour
The Long Road
Let’s All Go To Hades
Red White And Blue
The Grinding Wheel
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