Album: The Grinding Wheel
Label: Nuclear Blast America
Country: United States
Release Date: February 10th, 2017
This is straightforward, punch you in your teeth metal, no letting up, foot to the floor, smash your truck through any obstacles this is Deathrace 2000 metal. There’s very few respites in this thing, other than a few melodic intros and some “clean” singing by Bobby Blitz (you know, those moments where he’s not shrieking like some Udo/Halford combo) but pretty much, you’re getting a fist in your face through the whole duration. This is thrash and trad metal with lots of punk attitude, the kind you can only get in that combo from an East Coast thrash band (looking at you, Anthrax).
Overkill has a long history (looooooong), releasing a new album every few years from about 1985 on, each recording consistently powerful and metal, never letting their fans down. Some are better than others, and the three albums prior to this new one were excellent, in my eyes, and I was curious as to what this one would bring. And like I said before, it’s no frills, in your face, metal up your wazoo. But is that a good thing?
Tracks like opener “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” really stand out, as does “Shine On.” Both provide that thrash ethic that fans tune in for, and they rock mightily. “Mean, Green…” has a sweet breakdown towards the middle, with some sing-along backing vocals that gives it in particular a nice dynamic. “Goddamn Trouble” is a fine example of the head’s down headbanging that typifies this album. Straight for the throat. Track “Red, White and Blue” gets all political, but keeps things vague enough so that any side in a political argument can identify with it, which is either clever or slick, or maybe both. The song itself is okay, no real stand out, some punchy punk gang vocals peppered throughout giving it a ballsy shake. If you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll love this. “The Wheel” offers solid headbanging and thrash heroics, as does “The Long Road,” which throws in some Maiden at the beginning (early Maiden at that), adding pepper to a meal already rich with taste. But beyond these tracks, the rest kind of blur together, grinding (pun intended) it out and filling the album with heft and weight, but not really going anywhere. The bass and vocals are right up front, driving the songs forward, forward, forward, never relenting.
Kudos on the Thin Lizzy cover of “Emerald” at the end. Killer.
Overall, this album left me feeling like the new Metallica did. There are some great songs on here, but there’s also a lot of middle of the road filler. Some of it felt samey, a bit of a slog, songs kind of blending into one another. It doesn’t help that there’s only one song under four minutes here (and that one just barely). None of them overstay their welcome but maybe some pruning would have helped pick up the pace (yes, despite its forward motion, this album does hang up on itself from time to time). Just like the Metallica record, I feel like this would have made a great EP. Let’s call it treading the water some while moving forward just a bit. No shame here, just meat and potatoes thrash metal. So if that’s what you like, look no further, you’ll be happy as hell. Add bonus points if you like your metal with some punk attitude thrown in.
So, good album, rocking to the core. Not a great record, but certainly not embarrassing by any means.
1. Mean, Green, Killing Machine
2. Goddamn Trouble
3. Our Finest Hour
4. Shine On
5. The Long Road
6. Let’s All Go to Hades
7. Come Heavy
8. Red White and Blue
9. The Wheel
10. The Grinding Wheel
Total Playing Time: 64:04