Overkill – The Grinding Wheel (Nuclear Blast)Friday, 27th January 2017
Old reliable Overkill pumps out studio albums on a 2-3 year schedule these days – never letting up on the blue collar, New Jersey thrash they dole out in massive supply. Wherever you got in the green and black game, there’s bound to be fervent favorites (check Taking Over, Years of Decay, and Horrorscope here for this writer), but even as we’ve entered the digital music transformation for 2000 and beyond, the heavy hitting wallop of records such as Ironbound and The Electric Age cannot be denied. When going into The Grinding Wheel, you know the quintet aren’t going to throw a screwball into the mix – instead letting slow curves in terms of melody, harmony, and that homage to Sabbath swing change up many songs that keep the band at the top of their game.
More groups could learn a thing (or ten) from Overkill when it comes to using every tool in the talent pool for diversity and individuality song to song. Drummer Ron Lipnicki and bassist D.D. Verni galvanize the opening measures of “Mean Green Killing Machine”, a propulsive rhythm section when churning along at any pace, as this 7:29 leadoff track traverses classic thrash to 70’s Sabbath and back again ensuring pogo/ crowd surfing antics down the road. The nuances of early punk filter into “Goddamn Trouble” as far as Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth’s speedy word spew and rabid riff approach, while those who want an all-out double bass, speedy guitar assault will find “Red White and Blue” masterful. When the twists come in, it certainly sets up a spacious aural adventure – the choice of more atmospheric, emotional melodies in a lower register for Blitz during the clean mid-section of “Shine On” for instance – elevating the tasty lead break for a bigger adrenaline rush.
Never afraid to reach back into the NWOBHM archives as well from time to time, the opening instrumental sequence to another blockbuster “The Long Road” will appease many long time Maiden maniacs, as Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer peel off some exciting, bluesy tradeoffs that take you back to “The Ides of March” or “Genghis Khan” work. Tenacious and thoughtful song construction keep this hour-long platter on point – even when you hear the gang-oriented vocal supplements or Blitz screaming ‘little pig, little pig – let me in’ during the above mentioned “The Long Road”. Letting certain riffs breathe, allowing for natural interplay – The Grinding Wheel finds the Overkill machine in pristine form, and probable to provide the bruising, crushing entertainment everyone desire for the genre.