“The Grinding Wheel”
By Dr. Abner Mality
The wheels have been grinding for Overkill for more than 30 years now. I think they’ve been reviewed here at Wormwood more times than any other band with the possible exception of Motorhead. Which would be fitting because now that Motorhead is no more, Overkill picks up the torch as metal’s supreme road dogs.
They are among my all-time favorite bands without a doubt, but that allows me to gauge each album honestly. And in all honesty, I think “The Grinding Wheel” is a slight step backwards from other recent albums like “White Devil Armory” and “The Electric Age”. Now the band is incapable of creating anything bad, but I spot a couple of small cracks in the rumbling tank that is Overkill. After so many years you can’t help having a little overpredictability and tiredness leak into your sound.
The opening cut “Mean Green Killing Machine” is rather lengthy and combines both the thrashy and the groovy parts of the band pretty well. I prefer second cut “Goddamn Trouble”, which should be called “Goddamn Infectious”. It bounces along with a ton of energy and a lot of catchiness. Bobby Blitz is as strong as ever here and cuts loose with a piercing scream. “Our Finest Hour” is more thrashy and could have definitely come off of “Ironbound” or “Electric Age”. But this is the first album in a while that emphasizes groove more than thrash. “Shine On” and “The Long Road” are 2 songs that prove it.
A standout for me is “Let’s All Go To Hades”, where there’s a cool vocal approach that combines Blitz’s high pitched and more basso tones. It really helps the song stand out. “Come Heavy” is the closest thing I’ve heard to “stoner thrash” and it almost sounds like Trouble incarnated as Overkill. “Red. White and Blue” is a screaming thrasher.
Then the album kind of runs out of gas. “The Wheel” is heavy enough but just come across as generic Overkill. Even more draining is the title track, which is uninspired by Overkill standards even though it tries for a very epic sound with bells and chanted chorus.
It’s a fine album and recommended to all long time Overkill fans but it’s a step down from the colossal “Electric Age” and “Ironbound”.
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