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Overkill - The Grinding Wheel Award winner

The Grinding Wheel
by JF "Thrashing Assault" Briard at 31 January 2017, 6:06 AM

Thrash Metal is more alive than ever… and what's a better display of it's regained relevance than OVERKILL's latest effort "The Grinding Wheel". Overkill have a loyal fanbase, but I always thought they never really caught mainstream appeal, unfortunately. I believe that in recent years, the band continued to produce stellar albums and got more popular… with "The Grinding Wheel" being the pinnacle of those efforts. While more Heavy Metal oriented than it's predecessor "White Devil Armory", the Thrash is still very present and even more influences are added to the mix.

"Mean Green Killing Machine" is a very fitting opener and it gives us a strong rush of energetic thrash goodness right from the start! "Godamm Trouble" picks up the pace even more and is probably one of the more punkier song overall. The lyrics proudly reveal that they will "never stop" and I believe every fans are fine with that, as with the next song, "Finest Hour" (I had to place this pun). It is the other single released so far, revealing an extremely catchy chorus and some incredible vocal tremolos. Near the end, there's a very interesting variation of the chorus; this part is also one of the highlights. "Shine On" features probably the best chorus I think, containing (again) some sick tremolo notes from Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth. Adding another layer of complexity, the track unexpectedly takes a drastic turn mid-way through. All become very calm (almost Doom Metal-esque) and features lamenting vocals that conveys a real sense of dread… before reverting back to the earlier rapid-fire guitar riffs, approaching the end. The beginning of "The Long Road" is very melodic and kind of ballade-esque, being another stellar work with another great chorus. One of the best song for sure!

The album then however takes a very weird turn with the other punkish track, "Let's All Go To Hades". It has some potential I'd say… but overall, it feels like an experiment to me, albeit a fun one. The main melody is a bit annoying and the song itself feels disjointed by moments… This is the only questionable track, at least. "Come Heavy" is quite groovy and slower in tempo than the others, but it's really catchy and I like the change of pace! The classic Heavy Metal sound is quite obvious here… and of course welcomed, since it brings variety. "Red White And Blue" is a more straightforward thrash affair. It has some particularly nice double bass drumming sections. Later on, there is a slower part too. It also has that distinct Hardcore vibe. "The Wheel" and "The Grinding Wheel" close the album in pure beauty; those are the real gems here! The former is my favorite; it is a fast paced, raging and unrelenting fury with an unorthodox main melody! The latter is the longest song; it is more mid paced and very epic, with only one short burst of rapid fire guitar riffs and vocal lines. The very end is just pure glorious material; very grand in scope and almost movie-esque in it's sound. While Bobby repeats the title song over and over again, the volume slowly fades away and leaves us hanging for more…

This album is absolutely fantastic. Bobby's high pitched and gritty vocals are still impressively splendid, after all these years fronting the band. The guitar riffs from "Derek Tailer" are all memorable. The solos from "Dave Linsk" are extremely well composed and fitting to the mood of each song, as with the technical drumming of "Ron Lipnicki". The bass play from "D.D. Verni" also has it's strong moments, especially near the closure of the mighty title song, adding a lot to the atmosphere. With many musical influences and only one weak track, this is already bound to be within the best of what Thrash will offer us this year!

Production: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Mean Green Killing Machine
2. Goddamn Trouble
3. 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
Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth -Vocals
D.D. Verni - Bass
Dave Linsk - Lead Guitar
Derek Tailer - Rhythm Guitar
Ron Lipnicki - Drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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Edited 05 December 2020

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