(CD/LP, Nuclear Blast, 2017)
If you look up the word OVERKILL in the great Metal dictionary, you’ll find these synonyms: consistency and reliability. Yeah, this New Jersey-based grinding machine has been putting amazing albums back to back, and aside from the legendary LPs, everything they have release since “Immortalis” is amazing. Of course, having a great back-catalogue is just half of the number of yards a band has to go to achieve the legendary status, and this is nothing other than being able to deliver these goods from the stage in a concert setup. And there, my friends, OVERKILL really shine and, most of the times, the music sounds ten times better than on the record. I guess this band is writing music with the mindset to be played loud and live, and “The Grinding Wheel” serves this purpose single handedly.
It is pretty easy to imagine “Mean Green Killing Machine” being the first track of an OVERKILL live set as it smashes the door with the pounding drums and D.D.’s trademark basslines (yeah, with the feet apart pose). With, of course, Blitz standing on the side of the stage waiting to storm in is the final touch on this Thrash canvas OVERKILL know perfectly how to paint. Yeah, uncle Bobby runs towards the mic stand and starts singing with the in-your-face attitude that is so addictive. I mean, your blood reaches the boiling point lightning fast following the killer rhythm guitars and the headbanging / pounding tempo that lives and breathes through the natural-sounding drums. This song checks all the OVERKILL clichés and hence sounds absolutely fantastic but it soon gets even better during the slower break with the ooooohs before getting back to the Thrash(ing) business. The song that got most plays during the first album spins is “Our Finest Hour”; the steamroller rhythm section with the sweet double bass and the sing-along with fists in the air chorus are the first things that will rock your socks off. Blitz is surely one of those Metal singers who must be drinking tea with sharp-edge rocks to warm his vocal chords up, and if you don’t understand what I am saying, checking his screaming here... The part that puts this song on the repeat and at maximum volume was the riff-driven part that closes the song and the way it is moving up one octave... Well, it’s tough to put this in words but you’ll know what I am talking about once you the needle has hit the vinyl.
The oooohs do more damage in “The Long Road” that enters in the old school way with a guitar solo and an almost marching-drums. You can definitely feel the energy and the excitement building up something that happens with the Bay Area Thrash guitar explosion and I’ll use the early EXODUS to make this description complete. “Red White And Blue” is cut from the same riff-driven Thrash cloth but with higher bpms and vein-popping singing making this a must have on live shows. Yeah, this is moshing time all the way especially the double bass parts where the bass takes one step forward.
Spin after spin, this album made it to the top of my list with the best OVERKILL albums of their recent history. The band seems eager to push the envelope a bit and the slower title track is a solid proof of this. Bobby is singing in a slightly lower register and there are some really nice melodies delivered by the guitars. Fear not, the Thrash mood has not been turned off for the shake of melody because this is still an amazing OVERKILL sound with a pinch of a dark atmosphere. As you can imagine, the tempo picks up and then, it's moshing time once more. And yes, the bass break has some “Killers” vibe in it, before the pompous ending with the tolling bells...
I had no doubt that OVERKILL would drop another killer album but, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect such a killer set of songs with each and every one being setlist-worthy material. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the band playing the entire “The Grinding Wheel” back to back? Hell yeah, they have my vote! As of now, there are just nine spots to fill for my 2017 end of the year album list...
01. Mean Green Killing Machine
02. Goddamn Trouble
03. Our Finest Hour
04. Shine On
05. The Long Road
06. Let’s All Go To Hades
07. Come Heavy
08. Red White And Blue
09. The Wheel
10. The Grinding Wheel
D.D. Verni - Bass, Vocals
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth - Vocals
Dave Linsk - Lead Guitar
Derek “The Skull” Tailer - Rhythm Guitar
Ron Lipnicki - Drums