Overkill – “The Grinding Wheel”

Overkill – “The Grinding Wheel” (Nuclear Blast)

Battle Helm Rating

‘Mean, Green, Killing Machine’ – it’s not just the title of a song, but pretty reflective of the guys playing it – New Jersey’s thrash gods, Overkill! Formed an unbelievable 37 years ago, this is album number 18, but this could be their debut. I am simply bowled over by the sheer power and intense pace delivered by guys like founder bassist DD Verni and vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth – both in their mid 50s and the latter overcoming cancer – delivering such a smouldering cracker like this. But then take a look at them, not to mention the heavy duty crew making up the rest of Overkill and you’ve got the answer: a rough n rugged bunch that look more like the local outlaw biker gang than a world recognized name! Often overlooked as a meat n potatoes thrash band that respectably deliver the goods but not a whole lot more, “The Grinding Wheel” is set to change all that on the 10 monster tracks here. This is easily Overkill’s most diverse album for years. No, they’re not doing techno or some kinda disco revival, but along with plenty of punk n metal as you might expect, there’s also epic traits, NWOBHM influences and even some rock n roll reflective of the band’s roots! Then there’s the grooves. Well, Overkill always had groove but on the likes of ‘Goddamn Trouble’ it’s absolutely killa man, just kicking to the vicious, punchy beat of DD Verni’s deep bass and Ron Lipnicki’s locked n loaded power drumming! Of course, you may be wondering just how all this diversity is carried across the material? Well, that’s what makes this album so special – rather than having experimental tracks, Overkill have simply(?) incorporated those diverse elements into their signature sound, making those traditional short, in your face songs now stretch out into the 6 and 7 minute mark – and brother, it’s nothing short of brilliant! “The Grinding Wheel” opens the boundaries for thrash bands, often unfairly constrained by critical conformity to now take their sound farther and wider, while still remaining respectably and honestly thrash both in their hearts and most of all, sound. The band themselves are unbelievably tight, from Lipnicki’s aforementioned furor but equally his understated technicality, along with guitarist Dave Linsk, who truly delivers a ‘WFT’ moment through his virtuoso NWOBHM solo on ‘The Long Road’! Blitz’s vocals still shred, although he also croons majestically on the title track closer ‘The Grinding Wheel’ and even funks out on ‘Shine On’. With heaps arrangements, alternating style and tempo changes, the band have done a sterling job to handle it all, while still keeping it intensely thrash. Capped off by a big, badass sound thanks to Andy Sneap, “The Grinding Wheel” may be titled such, but it’s more like the A-Team van’s GMC tires on fire!!!!

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