Ferociously grinding in perpetual motion - A review of Overkill's "The Grinding Wheel"
With the release of The Grinding Wheel, Overkill extends its streak of high-quality thrash metal records to four. Even though this album is slightly inferior to its predecessors, it's an early year highlight for genre fans. If compared to other American thrash metal bands, Overkill's new album might not be as spectacular as some other recent genre releases but the quintet from New York has established itself as the most consistent genre band since the beginning of the decade.
Still, there are a few differences between this output and the previous one. First of all, the tracks on here are a little bit longer than usual. This doesn't mean that the tunes have become more progressive. The instrumental sections have been extended and the lyrics have gotten some more content. Secondly, the drum sound has become slightly better and sounds more organic than on the direct predecessor that had a rather dry production. Thirdly, the record has a few less impressive guitar solos than usual and rather works with transitions from up-tempo passages to either groovier breaks or some early doom metal influences.
The rest is business as usual on a constantly high level. Overkill still is one of the thrash metal bands with the most charismatic and dominant bass guitar sound and the instrument also has its shining moments on this output. The riffs are still heavy and sharp and take influences from genres such as hard rock and doom metal of the seventies as well as heavy and thrash metal of the eighties. The vocals sound as energizing and juvenile as ever. The Grinding Wheel has the same vivid spirit as Overkill's first five studio outputs.
Among the outstanding songs, one has to mention the rebellious anthem ''Goddamn Trouble'' that represents the angry spirit of thrash metal best on this album. The lyrics and the video clip are spot on while the thunderous rhythm section, the aggressive riffs and the pissed vocals are highly efficient. Along with the new band anthem ''Our Finest Hour'', Overkill delivers two memorable tunes that have the potential to become classics and should find their righteous spots in the set lists for years to come. Another track that sticks out is ''Red, White and Blue'' because it might be the most aggressive and fast track on the entire album while the middle passage convinces with a mean groove and rebellious gang shouts you won't get out of your mind. This is the perfect track to give you a jolt in the morning to see whether you're really awake or not. If you don't feel like banging your head, raising your fists and shouting along to this track, you're either deaf or thrash metal just isn't your cup of tea. The final highlight is the rhythmic closing title song ''The Grinding Wheel'' with an almost epic length of eight minutes that ends with some majestic symphonic elements and sinister choirs to end a ferocious release on a more atmospheric coda. It's probably the most creative and unusual song on the album with the most diversified vocal performance but it's still one hundred percent Overkill alright. The title song is my personal highlight on this record.
In the end, The Grinding Wheel is a mandatory purchase for anyone who loves thrash metal or wants to discover this genre. Die-hard fans should get their hands on the Japanese edition that features two strong cover songs honoring Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy as well as a bonus DVD with eight excerpts from a festival performance recorded two years ago. Who in his right mind needs the eighties back if a band like Overkill has been on such an impressive roll over the past seven years and counting?
Final rating: 82%« Vive les Têtes à claquesA review of Annihilator's discography - First part: The early years: 1984 - 1999 »
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