A veritable riff feast

Old school campaigners Overkill have been on something of a hot streak in recent years, releasing a solid swag of albums from Ironbound onward that have rated amongst some of the best thrash going around.

The Grinding Wheel is Overkill’s eighteenth album and it doesn’t disappoint in terms of their usual punk-edged thrash savagery, even if there are a few times where it seems the band is playing out the running time merely for the sake of it. On the other hand, this is somewhat less chaotic than some of their more recent work with some distinctively inventive moments. Bobby Blitz adds sustained moments of an impressive cleaner vocal style in several songs, most notably the multi-faceted opener ‘Mean Green Killing Machine’. Indeed, this album is a tour de force for Blitz, as he showcases a range of techniques beyond his usual razor-edged snarl.

This is, of course, a veritable riff feast. As always, Overkill take the best parts of punk, thrash and power metal and plant the pedal to the metal, rarely letting the pace drop beyond their regular frantic speed. However, the elaborate structures of the lengthy songs allow them to add some interesting aspects to their usual oeuvre. ‘Shine On’ succeeds with a nice Southern-flavoured groove, on ‘Come Heavy’ Overkill employs a striking Sabbathesque upbeat sludge and the epic title track adds plenty of flavoursome NWOBHM moments that recall the vital early days of the metal movement. It’s different enough that they’re not simply running over old ground but The Grinding Wheel is also very distinctively Overkill, another fast and savage release from a band that just doesn’t know how to make a bad record.

1. Mean, Green Killing Machine
2. Goddamn Trouble
3. Our Finest Hour
4. Shine On
5. The Long Road
6. Let’s All go to Hades
7. Come Heavy
8. Red White and Blue
9. The Wheel
10. The Grinding Wheel