Genre: Thrash Metal/Groove
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
According to reason, and since it looks like I am cutting straight to the chase, this statement should rather have been written as an epilogue, but reason does not go along with this release. Simply because it is not reasonable for Overkill to sound so fresh after 18 albums and 30 years, putting out a hell of an album, the 4th in a row in the last 7 years and at the same time not losing even an inch from their identity and their characteristic sound, namely their trademark. With this album Overkill achieved to be awarded the title of the best thrash metal band of the decade regardless the criteria you would like to put in the equation. Would you like to compare them with groups of their own generations? Would you like to compare them with bands from the 90’s? Maybe some from the recent years? Only American bands maybe or do you think that if we add bands from Europe or all over the world would change anything?
History has written: 2010: Irounbound, 2012: The Electric Age, 2014: White Devil Armory and 2017: The Grinding Wheel. Four peaks (although I personally prefer the first of those) that could be compared even with the glorious records of their first period. “The Grinding Wheel” comes right out of the wildest dreams of these American lonewolves’s fans and is the result of a mixture of the successful recipe of this decade’s songwriting approach and a deep dive in the underrated albums of the 90’s while bringing out their best elements that were either ignored or easily forgotten by most.
The production is almost flawless. I don’t have particular knowledge of the technical aspect, but the mix and mastering sound huge without depriving the sound of its naturalness making it annoyingly plastic. However, the long duration of the record should be equally charged to Andy Sneap’s production and the members. Almost all the songs could have been around 2 minutes making the whole album shorter in consequence. Yes, it sounds outrageous for the record to begin with a 7.5-minute-long song, while it would be the same good if it were around 5. Nothing would be missed if those 15 minutes would disappear from a record that runs around an hour. And at that point our whining ends since the quality of the compositions is such that doesn’t leave much room for doubts.
Bobby Blitz is snarling with rage making each chorus a blue collar hymn, while the gang backing vocals add an 80’s street air in the songs. I have to mention Ron Lipnicki’s relentless drumming that in combination with D.D. Verni’s loose bass guitar are creating a sonic rhythm section, but I dare to say that if Ron’s fills were a little bit better he could be close to perfection. This is probably touched by the guitar duo that, if we exclude the overdoing in the length of the songs, has great chemistry and most important plays great parts full of energy, melody and rage.
“The Long Road” is the highlight, with lyrics that talk about the course of Overkill so far. Classic heavy metal with an intro of galloping riffs, anthemic drums and backing vocals that are choir material. Great chorus, solo and bridges, amazing composition. Also “Goddamn Trouble”, ”Shine On” and “Let’s All Go to Hades” stand out.