The American thrashers are back! I can’t think of a more consistent band than these guys. Releasing music with a steady pace every 2-3 years since 1983 (!!)Overkill is a band that has been through a lot.
Countless tours, many lineup changes, Bobby Ellworth’s serious health issues (cancer, stroke), music trends and let’s not forget the current state of music business leading numerous bands to demise or obscurity.
However Overkill is one of the exception to the rule cases. Riding the bandwagon of thrash they keep creating album after album sometimes with great and others with not so good results.
Indeed Overkill have definitely had their ups and down in their huge career. From monumental albums like TAKING OVER, “FEEL THE FIRE”, “THE YEARS OF DECAY and “Horoscope” to uninteresting ones like I HEAR BLACK, or W.F.O. and from there to an amazing rejuvenation period giving us kick ass records like WHITE DEVIL ARMOURY and THE ELECTRIC AGE. Overkill is clearly a band that has done it all but seriously did any of us expected any less from a bunch of guys naming their band after such a kick ass Motorhead song?
So it’s 2017 and I got their latest offering THE GRINDING WHEEL at my hands (and ears!). This album carries anything I would expect from a legendary band like them. Awesome crystal production carrying a punch, screaming vocals from thrash legend Bobby “Blitz” Ellworth, grinding bass lines courtesy of D.D. Verni, solid drumming and of course good guitar work and cool leads sometimes with a bluesy aura.
The album opener is “Mean Green Killing Machine” that opens up strong but soon falls kind of flat mostly due to it’s duration and “Goddamn Trouble” that comes after doesn’t make things any different. Another unnecessary long song lacking in variation. At this point I feel the need to notice that the majority of the songs here exceeds 5 minutes. I got nothing against lengthy tunes as long as they keep my interest high and unfortunately that’s not the case with THE GRINDING WHEEL Majority of the songs brought be back to their late 90s era with albums like NECROSHINE or BLOODLETTING. While none of these can be considered as bad it’s a far cry from the last 2 releases where Overkill where clearly on fire!
This record just gave me the impression of band running out of good ideas and that reflects on the riffing and vocal lines. There are 3 songs that stood out from the rest like “Red White and Blue” being a fast paced tune that’s gonna sound killer when experienced live (also can’t shake the Exodus style bursting in its middle). End track “The Grinding Wheel” is very interesting since it dwells to the realm of doom but this time with an early Iron Maiden vibe (Powerslave era) but one of the best songs is “Our finest hour” truly a song that incorporates everything I love about Overkill. Screaming vocals, frantic rhythms and a take no prisoner attitude that brought me back to the days of “Elimination” and “Comma” sick song to its last second.
But as the album was progressing I found myself getting bored mostly from the lack of memorable parts. Most of the songs flowed without getting my attention and that’s a disappointment since there were high hopes for the band’s latest effort.
Coming to the end of the review I can’t help shake the feeling that Overkill took a backward step here. A band at this level can not create a bad album but a boring one? Without a doubt yes! So for me it’s back to their previous albums and hold my fingers crossed hopping for their future triumphant return
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