|Review: Overkill - The Grinding Wheel|
|The Grinding Wheel|
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year released: 2017
Genre: Thrash Metal
Review online: February 16, 2017
Reviewed by: Bruno Medeiros
for:The Grinding Wheel
Rated 4.13/5 (82.5%) (8 Votes)
This album is significantly different from Overkill's previous three, musically speaking. While those were more direct, raw and stronger in the riffing and overall explosion, The Grinding Wheel is actually very diverse, sludgy and heterogeneous in the songwriting and melody departments. The album starts in the same manner as White Devil Armory, though, with the head-crushing "Green Mean Killing Machine", a track that was already released as a lyric video a while ago. Characteristic of Overkill's style, the song is a supernova of fast riffs allied with the right amount of groove, only to burst into one of the coolest bridges and choruses of recent years for the band. A great start, well worthy of their legacy. Follow-ups "Goddamn Trouble" and "Our Finest Hour" keep things in the neighborhood with similar construction and equally good amount of badassness. The first has that playful atmosphere/heavy leads combo so present on Overkill's albums, with DD Verni showcasing his bass prowess (as always) and Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth delivering a great performance, accompanied by the decent choirs behind him, while the second further illustrates the amount of power and energy these guys still put on making quality thrash metal. Fast and cadenced in the right parts with a groovy chorus, the song is definitely one of the best here.
The ball drops a little bit in the middle portion of the album, with OK songs like the fun and crazy "Let's All Go to Hades" and its ludicrous lyrics and "The Long Road", which begins to show the epic side of this album (yes, there are epic songs on an Overkill album, surprise), and less favorable ones – but decent, nevertheless – such as "Shine On", and the grooviest of them all, "Come Heavy". The album picks up once again in the brutal "Red, White and Blue", a full-on thrash anthem with amazing energy and killer performances by Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk in the guitar work, but the hero here is Ron Lipnicki, who delivers stab after stab of pounding drums. Closing the endeavor are the truly epic bits of the album, "The Wheel" and "The Grinding Wheel"; the first almost feels like an introduction to the magnum opus that is to come, but not without its own personality, while the second is one of the longest, most diversified and carefully crafted songs in Overkill's history. "The Grinding Wheel" has a very unique and pleasantly surprising atmosphere, ranging from old-school thrash to progressive and intricate parts (yes, you read that right). I give the utmost respect to these guys for trying something (very) different from their signature sound, and extra points for actually succeeding at it, as the track has good quality and doesn't feel obnoxious or over the top. The legendary Andy Sneap was in charge of production and mixing, so there are no problems in that department. Every instrument feels and sounds organic, and the high and low ends are decently distanced from each other, giving it a high dynamic range.
The Grinding Wheel is by far the album I liked the most when it comes to American Thrash giants releasing material in the past year or so (which includes Testament, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. Metallica is not Thrash anymore, just trash), and I find it to be a very good Thrash Metal album in general. The bold move of inserting some alien elements to the band's characteristic sound and some great production work all help with the final product, true, but Overkill is at its best when delivering straight-up Thrash, which The Grinding Wheel also has in abundance. These dudes are already in the hall of legends, and so could have launched a mediocre album and still have street credit, but they chose to grab Heavy Metal by the balls and stand their ground once again, proving that age is but a number.
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