Overkill - The Grinding Wheel (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Grinding Wheel (2017)

nuclear blast

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. (Even Slayer made the ill advised, nu metal influenced Diabolus in Musica in 1998.) The Grinding Wheel delivers an hour of anthemic thrash that is pretty much guaranteed to make you bang your head.

The Grinding Wheel is ten new songs bookended by two epics. It opens with the seven and half minute “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” and closes with the eight minute title track. Both are excellent. In between, you get lots of the relentless thrash and speed metal that Overkill is known for. The songs are meticulously arranged. There are more riffs and guitar solos than you can shake a stick at. The speed and precision of the double bass drum is almost mechanical. Bobby Blitz’s signature shriek sets it apart from most of the other classic thrash bands still lurking around.

Some of the tracks on The Grinding Wheel have a really strong classic metal or even classic rock flavor. “Goddamn Trouble”, “Come Heavy” and “Red, White and Blue” all have serious rock and roll swagger and are among the record’s most memorable songs. “Our Finest Hour”, “The Long Road” and “The Wheel” are other highlights. Most of the songs are layered and complex without resorting to being pretentious. Overall, the songwriting is strong. There’s not really a weak tune among the ten (or eleven if you get the deluxe version with a bonus track).

Overkill is not a political or crossover thrash band. The songs on The Grinding Wheel are all about heavy metal stuff. Punks who can’t appreciate straight metal are probably not going to like this. The lyrics can be a bit (endearingly?) cheesy at times, but musically it kicks ass. It’s certainly not for everyone, but any self-respecting thrash fanatic will be thrilled to add The Grinding Wheel to their record collection. It’s on par with recent great stuff by Testament, Exodus or Death Angel. It’s another excellent addition to the already impressive Overkill discography.