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It isn't the best Overkill album ever, and it's no instant classic ready to be worshiped by the masses, but it's an album for the fans, giving them exactly what they want, and it works very well

The thrash icons are still going strong after nearly 40 years in the industry. Despite changes in line-up over the years, their distinctive sound remains exactly that as they draw in new and old moshers alike.

Veteran thrashers Overkill kick off their new release with a near 8 minute epic, ‘Mean Green Killing Machine’, which opens with a threatening drum pattern, slowly introducing a chugging, overdriven riff, a staple of the thrash bands that have influenced their sound. Bobby Ellsworth delivers his vocals in the same, semi-screamed, but so distinctive style that has earned Overkill their small, but devoted following over the years. We get a fairly sudden, but very intense guitar solo towards the end, a middle ground between the heaviness of a Slayer solo (Angel of Death) and the often much lighter, melodic Metallica solos.

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Rather than feeling (like many rock/metal bands these days) that they needed to update their style, Overkill have stayed consistent since the 80’s. We are plunged through track after track of explosive thrash, that in some circumstances sounds like it’s been influenced more by Judas Priest than Testament (Track 3, ‘Our Finest Hour’ is a good example). It’s also worth mentioning that while Overkill are capable of getting the harsh, furious and mosh-inducing sound that Slayer is capable of, they can often combine it with the meticulous, Metallica-esque method of still creating catchy choruses (Track 7, ‘Come Heavy’).

Of course, like every album, it has its duller moments. There are some tracks that drag a bit, that sound like fillers. Lyrics about ‘taking the cycle path’ seem out of place in a metal album and we get repetitive riffs and boring blast beats in a few tracks, but the vocal delivery and rocketing solos almost always bring it back to quality.

The album (nearly) ends as it began, with an 8 minute epic, which is also the title track. It’s filled with threatening riffs, stabs from the rhythm guitar perfectly permeate the texture as the riff is panned across the stereo field, before a very Rob Howard-esque vocal delivery takes us through this old school sounding tune. It’s a worthy title track, and probably the stand out song after track 1. It’s worth noting the sheer musical ability of every member of the band, from brand new drummer Eddy Garcia and his crisp snare sound, through to Derek Tailer’s subtle but perfect basslines, that have been supporting the band since the 80’s. Finally, we get a modest 3 minute long song, that could easily be a cop-out into a ballad, but that wouldn’t be the Overkill style. They’ve never been ones to Metallica-fy it and start throwing in ‘Nothing Else Matters’ or ‘Mama Said’ and don’t do it, instead we get more chugging riffs, before a long, overdriven note rings the album to a close.

This isn’t the best Overkill album ever, and it’s no instant classic ready to be worshiped by the masses, but it’s an album for the fans, giving them exactly what they want, and it works very well.

The Grinding Wheel is out now via Nuclear Blast.

Overkill 'The Grinding Wheel'

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