Overkill are one of those bands that seem to split metal fans down the middle. Opinion sees the New Jersey wrecking crew painted either as thrashing demigods or second rate chancers, hanging for dear life onto the coat tails of the so called Big 4. So, if you agree with the former opinion, feel free to read on. However, if you fall into the latter camp you can stop reading right now and fuck right off!
“Mean, Green, Killing Machine” kicks things off nicely and has everything you could possibly want from Overkill. Frenetic riffing? Check. High speed bursts of double bass drumming? Check. D.D. Verni’s chunky bass, anchoring it all down? Check. And finally, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth spitting out his lyrics with all the spite of a rabid pitbull that’s just been kicked in the nuts. Check, check and fucking check! “Our Finest Hour” and “Red, White and Blue” (the intro alone of which could liquify your bowels at 100 paces) are also prime slices of ‘pit’ fodder. The album also sees a couple of nods to Overkills past. The title track has a grinding – pun intended – malevolence that brings to mind “Horrorscope”, while the aptly named “Come Heavy”, with its leaden groove, is reminiscent of what they were producing circa the underrated I Hear Black.
Considering The Grinding Wheel is Overkills 18th studio album(!), it’s pretty safe to say that if you aren’t already a fan, then chances are this album is not going to change your mind. However, if you have even a passing interest in Overkill (and therefore the history of thrash metal) then you’ll find much to savour over the course of the album. To be honest though, it’s not all good news. “Lets All Go To Hades” plods along and is filler at best whilst “Goddamn Trouble” is catchy enough but outstays its welcome by a good 3 minutes. Despite these quibbles, The Grinding Wheel is yet another quality album of straight up, no-frills thrash and is probably Overkill’s best album since Ironbound. Consider our necks well and truly wrecked! 8/10