Release Date: Feb 10, 2017
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Speed/Thrash Metal
The New Jersey thrash legends' 18th full-length outing, Grinding Wheel arrives a little over two years after the release of 2014's uncompromising White Devil Armory. Produced by the band and mixed by Andy Sneap, the ten-track set -- the digital version includes a meaty studio version of Thin Lizzy's "Emerald," a song the band has covered live for years -- snaps necks with impunity, but it does so with a structural inventiveness that's eluded some of Overkill's most recent offerings. While the band hasn't lost its knack for dropping unrelenting artillery blasts of breakneck, old-school thrash -- "Goddamn Trouble," "Red, White, and Blue" -- there's a nervy, classic rock/NWOBHM undercurrent that runs through Grinding Wheel that owes more to Judas Priest and Accept than it does Testament and Metallica.
Frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth has claimed that he can "smell an opener," and the odor was way pungent when his group recorded its latest leadoff track, "Mean Green Killing Machine." It sets into motion one killer-sounding Overkill album, even though it's the New Jersey group's eighteenth. "Goddamn Trouble" is a swaggering headbanger with a tinge of country-rock and a load of attitude, while "Our Finest Hour" is a speedy thrasher about being able to accept yourself in new situations. Actually, Overkill did just that with "Shine On," which features fresh areas of groove, dynamics and lyrical contemplation.
You don't just blunder into Overkill's buzzsawpunkmetal party 18 albums in. If you're picking up The Grinding Wheel, there's a good chance you were there in 1991 or 1983 and you're in this for the duration. Good news for you, pal: if ever there was an album that was made for the diehard fans, it's this one. As the title suggests, Overkill drill down on the template they've been mining since at least 1990's Horrorscope - a kind of mutated melodic power-thrash gone feral - and they never let it go.
The New Jersey thrash titans are back with their 19th album. By now, you should know what to expect from Overkill. They've been the genre's most consistent band and have never really strayed from the speed metal path. They stayed true while most of their contemporaries were chasing commercial success and attempting to modernize with the times.