Sunday, February 19, 2017

Come Heavy Or Don't Come At All

Overkill - The Grinding Wheel

Nuclear Blast Records - 2017

Muthas, that unstoppable wrecking crew – Overkill – is back with their eighteenth (!) album and it’s an absolute skullcrusher. The Grinding Wheel was originally slated for a November 2016 release, but thankfully it was delayed due to some scheduling issues.  Why thankfully you ask? Well, because it had the potential to be lost in the shuffle during the old school thrash-o-rama of 2016. Overkill didn’t have to compete with Metallica and Testament for the limelight last November. The band has all eyes on them and they deliver the goods and then some.  Did anyone doubt they would?! 

The band possesses a signature sound much in the same way Motorhead did - you know what you are going to get - but they always manage to make it interesting.  Overkill never really succumbed to trends in any sustained way, and because of this tenacity they’ve enjoyed a long career while the vast majority of their peers packed it in decades ago.
The Grinding Wheel is a bit different from their last couple of albums in that the songs are longer and feature a good bit of variety.  I wouldn’t say the tracks are progressive, but rather they approach the epic with many tempo changes and vocal nuances.  The opening track “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” ably demonstrates what the album is all about. It sounds like classic Overkill with a couple of tempos and Blitz uses a couple of different vocal styles including some actual singing at the midpoint of the cut. All of this unfolds over seven and a half minutes of excellence.  Check out the lyric video:

“Goddamn Trouble” is one of the best songs on the album and it’s quintessential Overkill - loads of fun, a bit of punk, a bit of thrash and hooks for days. I’m not surprised that it’s already featured in their live set and I would imagine it’s going to stay there for a while. Check out the equally fun video:

“The Long Road” has a great intro that is begging to be played live because of its sing-along woah-oh vocals and blistering riffs.  The lyrics feel autobiographical because they are about never stopping and always moving forward.  Onward and upward indeed!

Another noteworthy cut is “Come Heavy” which is groovy and swaggering with loads of Black Sabbath influence that the band usually features on a couple of tracks per album.  This song will definitely get your head bobbing while you sing along.

The title track closes things out in epic fashion with a mid-paced groove and then finishes off with a another sing-along chant/chorus and then dissolves into a mournful string section.  It almost reminds one of something Iron Maiden would have come up with, believe it or not.

I should also note that the production by Andy Sneap is stellar and the album sounds amazing. If you were looking for some dirty thrash sounds you are out of luck, but if you like razor-sharp, clear production than you will be thrilled.  I hope he’ll be on board for future albums as he really captures the band’s sound well. 

Also the album is wrapped in nice artwork that features a stylized Chaly in between interlocked green gears with sparks flying.  It definitely evokes the sounds contained on the album and it a step up from the usual Overkill artwork which can be uninspired. Well done fellas.


The Bottom Line: This is a great album and certainly equals their recent classic Ironbound if not some of their 80s albums.  If you are a fan of the band, a thrash fan, or a fan of heavy metal you should enjoy this immensely.  Go buy it and catch them on tour!


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