Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Thrash Metal
Release Date: February 10th, 2017
Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth
- D. Verni
Derek ‘The Skull’ Tailer
Mean Green Killing Machine
Our Finest Hour
The Long Road
Let’s All Go to Hades
Red White and Blue
The Grinding Wheel
Thanks to a tendency to cite the ‘Big Four’ of Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer as the pinnacle of thrash metal it’s often easy to overlook the likes of East Coast punk-metallers Overkill and the part they helped play defining the sub-genre.
Formed from the ashes of gloriously-named outfit ‘The Lubricunts’ in 1980 Overkill have since released seventeen albums of punishing, take no prisoners metal and excellent forthcoming new album “The Grinding Wheel” is no exception. Referencing the classic Judas Priest track “Grinder” the album delivers old school metal that bristles with punk’s one-fingered opinion. “Punk is huge for Overkill,” bass player and founding member D. D. Verni recently confirmed. “You’re not going to hear any Green Day or Ramones in us, but the energy and the attitude of punk mixed with the New York vibe… that’s what Overkill is.”
Opening track “Mean Green Killing Machine” calls to mind Priest’s “Painkiller” with its drumbeat intro, the fervent vocals of Ellsworth and NWOBHM vibe yet contains a mid-section that may channel Saxon in part but includes a sumptuous riff and melody that had me repeating the track before I had even sampled song two on the album, namely the raucous piss-and-vinegar of “Goddamn Trouble” which races over a wonderful bass line from Verni and the blistering twin guitars of Linsk and Tailer.
“Our Finest Hour” enters familiar thrash territory and is reminiscent of Death Angel, singing of unity, recognition and safety in numbers complete with gritty solo while the tongue-in-cheek “Let’s All Go to Hades” is a bruiser of a track that has pit-crush written all over it delivering a message of excess amidst abstract images ranging from the Bataclan, The Orient Express and Motörhead. According to Blitz the song is a puzzle, the pieces of which I am still trying to piece together.
“Shine On”, with it’s opening line of ‘Someone left the cat out in the rain’ along with high-pitched backing during the choruses, may add moments of levity, something Overkill are always happy to include in their catalogue, yet still delivers crushing riffs as well as introspective brood and while “The Long Road” plus the darker “Come Heavy” may look backwards for inspiration they still retain an exuberance that belies the band’s age.
Drawing the album to a close is the epic title track, clocking in at just under eight minutes, which builds in intensity with riffs sharper than a razor blade culminating in a doom-fuelled, sepulchral outro and completes an album that is as melodic as it is heavy, as punishing as it is exciting.
Mixed by the legendary Andy Sneap “The Grinding Wheel” shows that thrash is as vibrant, and as relevant, today as it was over thirty years ago, when it first emerged blinking into the sun. Sharp, menacing, thoughtful and with a beating punk heart Overkill ensure thrash will not go quietly into that dark night.
Reviewer: David Thrower