Overkill – The Grinding Wheel

A rare breed in the Speed/Thrash Metal genre, New Jersey’s Overkill have been plying their trade without interruption for over thirty years. Regardless of any changes in style, or inevitable personnel reshuffles, the band has always remained a constant force on the scene. Never keeping their fans waiting more than three years for new material, neither splitting up nor “going on hiatus”, they have been rewarded with an extensive and healthy back catalogue, a cause for envy among many of their peers.

The mid-late eighties were a great time for Overkill. Four near-classic albums in the latter half of the decade took them to within spitting distance of the “Big Four” and saw them sitting very happily alongside the likes of Exodus and Testament.

Released in 2007, the impressive Immortalis (Bodog) proved to be somewhat of a key point in their continuing career. Since then, and aided in no small part by having a consistent line-up, the band have undergone quite the dramatic resurgence, releasing a succession of albums good enough to match the quality of their first four records. Showing no signs of slowing down even slightly, latest release, The Grinding Wheel (Nuclear Blast) is yet another punishing statement of intent from the band.

From the opening barrage of ‘Mean Green Killing Machine’, ‘Goddamn Trouble’, and ‘Our Finest Hour’ – arguably the record’s finest five minutes – it’s clear OverKill really aren’t in any mood for fucking around. By the time you reach ‘Red White and Blue’ with its infectious refrain of “Give us liberty or we can give you death!”, ‘The Wheel’, and the epic title track which closes the album, you’ll just want to stick the damn thing on again. And again. In fact, simply press the “repeat” button before you start and save yourself the bother.

At 57 years old, there’s just no way that singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth should sound this good. A performance as good as anything you’ll hear by anyone else in the genre even half his age, his venomous snarls and piercing screams drive the band as they have done since the beginning, gleefully daring his band mates to try and keep up. Proving they’re more than up to the task, guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer pile right in with fists flying, while the rhythm section of drummer Ron Lipnicki, and the other remaining original member, bass player D.D. Verni arrive in plenty of time to kick your face into next week.

Fast and aggressive, with a crisp, chunky production, vicious riffs fed solely on a diet of raw meat, and more hooks than a pirate convention, The Grinding Wheel will keep spinning inside your stereo for quite some time to come.