It’s fair to say that New Jersey thrash legends Overkill have been on top form in recent years. Their past triple threat of releases – Ironbound, The Electric Age and White Devil Armory – have been heavy and energetic and reminded the world why Overkill hold their rightful place in the upper echelons of thrash metal. Their latest album, The Grinding Wheel, further solidifies that fact.
The album opens with “Mean Green Killing Machine” (which the band have released a lyric video for). The song is quintessential Overkill with its building intro of crunching guitars over rumbling tom work, through its catchy chorus, bluesy rock riffing in the middle and thrashing moments throughout. This trend continues after a segue into “Goddamn Trouble” which is a catchy mid-paced thrasher loaded with rock ‘n’ roll attitude. “Our Finest Hour” (video below) ups the tempo a little and features more old-skool NWOBHM-influenced riffing among Overkill’s modern crunch, as well as a pinch of the band’s more melodic side in the choruses.
The next song, “Shine On”, features more aspects of the Overkill sound. There’s a return to the bluesy hard rock riffing peppered throughout the song, stomping rhythms in the verses, haunting clean guitar arpeggios and softer vocals in the middle followed by another dip into melodic territory underneath the shredding guitar solos. The first half of The Grinding Wheel ends with “The Long Road”. The song begins in a more epic and melodic style with another nod to Overkill’s NWOBHM influences riff-wise combined with catchy “Whoa-ohs” which is certain to get the crowds going when the band hit the road on their next tour. The rest of the song is packed full of simple yet catchy and heavy riffing with a moment for the bass to shine in the middle and increasing guitar harmonies before the last chorus.
The second half of The Grinding Wheel begins with “Let’s All Go to Hades”. The song heavily features harmonised vocals in the verses couple with slightly more dissonant take on classic metal riffing throughout the bulk of the song. “Come Heavy” slows down the tempo to an infectious swinging groove throughout the verses with a combination of melodic ideas in the mid-section and punk riffing underneath the guitar solos.
“Red White and Blue” brings back the thrashing velocity at full pelt with more punk/crossover style riffs that are certain to set the mosh pits alight. The Grinding Wheel ends with the double assault of “The Wheel” and the album’s title track. The former is chock-full of heavy and catchy thrash riffs, relentlessly pounding drumming and ripping guitar solos. The latter is part crushing stomper with much moodier riffing, and part high velocity thrasher that’s guaranteed to get heads banging. The song ends on a darker epic note which returns to the moody riffing backed up by the band singing low in unison with the riff like a choir.
The Grinding Wheel is another fine example of a band on top form. The songs expertly showcase all aspects of the Overkill sound we know and love with a never-ending energy that reminds the thrash world why the band are kings of the genre. It’s evident that Overkill live to write and play heavy music and they never fail to do it well. The Grinding Wheel proves this and shows that even after almost forty years of existence, the band don’t plan on slowing down any time soon – long may Overkill continue!
Score – 8/10
Highlights – “Mean Green Killing Machine”, “Our Finest Hour”, “The Long Road”, “The Wheel”, “The Grinding Wheel”
The Grinding Wheel is available via Nuclear Blast Records on the 10th February.