The legendary Overkill, have been considered by many as the “Motorhead” of thrash metal. What is meant by this is that they are one of them bands that can’t really surprise, you always know what to expect from them. They know what they do and they do it well. The ‘Grinding Wheel’ is their 18th album and it can be rightly considered as a thrash metal catapult. After all, how could it be otherwise for a band with nearly 37 years of experience in the global extreme metal arena?
Generally speaking, Overkill’s latest album combines elements of punk, power metal-like melodic parts and solos, Blitz’s classic awesome vocals and of course…plenty of guitar thrashing. It all starts with “Mean green killing machine”and its prog-like intro. Not a straight forward linear intro but a good one. Very quickly though, the whole tune changes and does let you know that you’re dealing with pure thrash metal. When Blitz’s vocals kick in too then you really know it’s Overkill. Half way through the tune, the tempo changes and slows down. The music becomes much more melodic and reminds of NWBHM. That doesn’t last for too long though and soon you catch yourself thrashing along with your air guitar.
The album continues with ‘Goddamn Trouble’. Here the velocity goes up straight away. A very straight forward and fast paced tune that sounds a bit punkish too. Prominent characteristics in this songs sound, apart from Blitz’s trademark vocals, are the drums and the bass ( in fact the bass sounds loud and good in every song in this album, maybe because the bassist is also one of the main songwriters).
‘Our finest hour’ is the third song in the album and also my personal favourite. Fast paced awesome tune this one from its beginning to its end. The chorus consists of a simple classic but amazing chord sequence with Blitz’s vocals literally stepping on the music and lifting off. By the end of this tune you’re all psyched up and ready for. At this point do just that, the offer you more thrashing with ‘Shine On’. This song is classic Overkill aggression with good bulky , solid and heavy sound. Half way through, Overkill give us a break with a slow paced melodic and even mystical pose which reminds of Iron Maiden (there’s the NWBHM again). That only lasts for about a minute though and back to brutality with an insane guitar solo.
The album continues with ‘The Long Road’. An epic tune with an awesome start where the NWBHM is again detectable and with another awesome guitar solo. And about 2 minutes in the tune the thrashing starts again. High speed, pantera-like riffs and loud heavy drums. The main chorus of the song is so catchy that it tends to stay in your head for hours after listening to the tune. Excellent micro solos all throughout the tune by the way.
‘Let’s All Go To Hades’ is the 6th song of the album and it’s brilliant (another personal favourite from this album). It starts sounding like doom metal and it reminds of Black Sabbath a lot. Mid tempo tune this one with a prominent drum and bass sound (again). It’s a pretty straight forward song from start to finish and by the end of it you wish it could last a bit longer, despite the fact that it’s 4.55 minutes long. ‘Come Heavy’ the next tune, is another doom-like tune with a bit of Black Sabbath element in it and it moves along the lines of ‘Let’s All Go To Hades’. Very nice clean bass sound on the second half of it too.
At this point we come to a song called ‘Red, White and Blue’. The general tempo is a lot faster now and the start of the song puts you in the mood immediately, it sounds ominous. This is a thrash metal anthem basically, fast, aggressive and brutal. About 3 minutes in the song tough, the tempo drops down a bit, without becoming slow, and it sounds like classic East Coast sound (Anthrax comes to mind), only to pick up again and deliver pure thrash. This continues with ‘The Wheel’, which is the next song. Only difference is that this tune has got some more rock n roll riffs that remind of Motorhead at times.
Finally, the album closes with ‘The Grinding Wheel’ which is an experimental 7.55 minute long tune. Mid-tempo mostly, with melodic riffs, clean bass parts and slashing solos. A bit atmospheric too, especially towards the end and by atmospheric I mean funeral bell tolls and operatic choruses.
In short, Overkill’s ‘The Grinding Wheel’ is a thrash metal album full of energy, good riffs, good solos and lots of influences. It couldn’t have been otherwise, they’ve been around for years. The album shows that the band is as tight as ever, they don’t show signs of slowing down, they are very talented and inspired and of course and they can deliver what’s expected of them. I’ve got one thing to say to all thrashers worldwide. Get this album. You’ll love it. It seems that 2017 is the year of thrash….