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Overkill | ‘The Grinding Wheel’

“Another year, another Overkill album” may read to some like an backhanded compliment, but it’s the best way to sum up ‘The Grinding Wheel.’

While they haven’t descended into Kreator territory (writing songs to appeal to teenagers / mainstream metal fans), their recent run of albums have featured a slick, digital sounding production, highlighting the mundane, formulaic song writing on show.

And ‘The Grinding Wheel’ is no exception.

For an example, listen to the opener ‘Mean Green Killing Machine.’

That must be the most polite drum into from a metal band ever. Drums, as well as keeping the rhythm, are meant to be loud, pounding and tribal. This is the furthest thing from all of those traits.

The riff is suitably chunky and D.D Verni’s bass is suitably prominent in the mix. It builds for around twenty seconds, and at no point do you feel an ounce of excitement or fury. By the numbers, mechanical, basic. These are more accurate terms to describe the feelings that you experience listening to this.

As the song progresses, we get various shifts in tempo and mood, and all of them just feel cut and pasted via ProTools. Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth gives it his all, lending a sense of purpose to proceedings. But even he can’t distract the listener from how dull this song is.

And that’s only the opener.


‘Goddamn Trouble’ (which has the most juvenile music video imaginable) is more of the same.

If it was Phil Campbell playing the riff on a later period Motorhead album, it would probably be half decent. Here, it’s the most sanitised sounding metal riff. Not a bad solo, however. Not life affirming or terrible. Just…well…not bad.

The opening stop/start riff to ‘Our Finest Hour’ (oh the irony) bears a passing resemblance to ‘Seeing Red’ by Minor Threat. No bad thing in my book, but the track descends into a bland soup of nothingness, with the exception of Blitz making a good go of the lyrics.

In fact, Blitz is really the best asset the LP has. He sings with conviction and passion, but it’s not enough to disguise the mediocrity on show here.

There are obviously more tracks, but if you’ve been following my train of thought, you can probably guess I didn’t find any other songs worth writing about.

Phoned In

Of course, I understand that thrash is generally a young man’s game, and I also understand that Overkill have touring commitments, so they need to be regularly putting out “product” (I feel sick typing that) in order to justify going on tour.

But there’s clearly been little effort to come up with something memorable.

Take Motorhead for example: they put out albums relentlessly. But there was never any thing that sounded remotely phoned in. They still gave it their all up until ‘Bad Magic’, and had one or two tracks where they did something a little different. As a result, their back catalogue stands tall.

You can’t really say that about the recent Overkill LP’s. When was the last time you played ‘Killbox 13’ or ‘Ironbound’? Or anything post ‘Horrorscope’?

It’s important to remember that there’s a younger demographic (boke) who will listen to this record alongside recent works by Anthrax, Megadeth, Sepultura and Kreator and think that these old legends are still producing brilliant albums.

Just like Motorhead, Sabbath and the Ramones. The crux is that, because of the amount of back catalogue stuff available, they’re too young to tell the difference between “solid” and “phoned in.”

I can guarantee you, if I had heard ‘The Grinding Wheel’ at the age of 18, I’d undoubtedly think it was a solid, modern thrash album. Maybe if I was in my 40’s and had no interest in metal apart from the bands I’d grown up with, the songs would sound mighty in the setlist.

However, I’m not.

Play ‘Feel the Fire’ after this album is finished. The difference is night and day.

1.5 / 5 – Christopher Owens ::: 05/02/17

  1. Spot on. Same time in two years lads.

  2. Once again, not really seeing how Kreator or Overkill have been writing songs for teenagers with their latest albums. I really dig them, solid melodic thrash.

    Anyway, I like the new material from Overkill, its meat and potatoes thrash but its done really well and is enjoyable.

    Reviewer seems to have a bit of a bone with younger metal fans still liking thrash bands he first got into in 1986…

    Ive really enjoyed the last albums from all the above lambasted in the review; Kreator, Megadeth and Anthrax and Im in my 30s.

    Guess I’m just brainwashed by metal hammer though. Still, liking this new Overkill a lot.

  3. Martin Wyer Says:

    Actually I just gave the album another spin after reading this, I have changed my mind.
    To be honest at first I didn’t like the almost 80s sounding parts but now I have come to accept that a band does need to grow, in fact I really do prefer this to most 80s thrash, it’s without a doubt their best work. The drum sound is really good and audible and Bobby is better than ever. It’s quite a melodic album too which holds a lot of weight with me as I think music should be able to make you cry with pure heartfelt passion.
    No album has touched me this much since the last Machine Head album.
    And please stop slagging Metal hammer, they are flying the flag for metal brothers everywhere.
    Peace and love my friends.

  4. Martin Wyer Says:

    My sides…… Such wit.

  5. They’ve been grinding out that rut since I Hear Black. Everything after Horrorscope has been what they call “blue collar” – a polite way to say by-the-numbers. It’s a shame when you consider the variety and quality found on Horrorscope and, particularly, The Years Of Decay.

  6. Yet another review tainted by this writer’s complete inability to keep himself, and how terribly alternative he is, out of his output. And by shoddy copy. “An backhanded compliment.” Good grief.

  7. Eoin McLove Says:

    I listened to about a minute of that before turning it off. Complete and utter shit. The remedial riffs and the plastic drums were bad enough but when the corny vocals came in I couldn’t take any more.

  8. Another example of ‘metal for the sake of it’. There’s a whiff of real sadness creeping into the work being churned out by some of the old guard at the moment – Slayer, Kreator, this lot. I know they have bills to pay and what the hell else is a 50 year old Blitz going to do, get a job at the post office? And I know everyone gets older and slows down a little but does it HAVE to be like this? The fires of youth may have long since burned out but surely it doesn’t have to be quite so sterile, safe and creatively stunted? Thoroughly depressing stuff.

  9. Motorhead were churning out average by the number albums for years

  10. brianwilliams82 Says:

    It isn’t great or even adequate based on what I’ve heard so far:

    Mean Green Killing Machine – intro far, far, far too similar to Anthrax’s ‘Time’ for my liking
    Our Finest Hour – our finest rehash of our own song, ‘Electric Rattlesnake’
    Goddamn Trouble – sounds like something from the lousy ‘Killing Kind’ record

    Unfortunately Overkill are one of those bands who get too much respect simply for having been around the block, never went soft, etc. And while that is certainly admirable in its own right, it doesn’t mean that half-arsed new material should just get a bye.

  11. greaterfool Says:

    Of course this is shit it’s Overkill after all. 2 decent records 25 years ago, nothing since, just like ALL the other 80s thrash bands, nothing of note since the 90s.

  12. greaterfool Says:

    Amen to that.

  13. Artwork sums it up for me. The nerd engineer in me copped that those gears won’t actually turn so they go nowhere. Much like the bands recent output. Songs I’ve heard so far are nothing special.

  14. Kreator album is quality . I will listen to the thisb before passing judgement – their last 3 albums have been very good – especially Ironbound – top notch .

  15. greaterfool Says:

    If the top left gear rolls clockwise and the top right goes clockwise doesn’t that turn the bottom gear anti clockwise?

  16. Eoin McLove Says:

    If the one on the left turns clockwise it will turn the one on the right anti clockwise and both of the upper cogs will jam the bottom one. It’s a perpetual unmotion machine. Going nowhere, just like that fucking song.

  17. I’m a big Overkill fan, but fucking hell it sounds like their records are made in a fucking factory on a production line. I persevered with them and still enjoy everything up to “The Underground and Below”, but from Necroshine to Relixiv I don’t think I can recall a single track on any of those records. Ironbound upped the stakes momentarily but it’s back to type with the last couple.

  18. “younger demographic (boke)”..what a cuntish thing to say.

  19. But there’s an element of truth there, though. Look beyond the occasionally clumsy words for the meaning.
    4-5 years into my metal life and there was I thinking that the then-new albums Killbox and Relics were the bees knees. Coz it had the name Overkill on the box, right? Never let you down, never wimped out, the working man’s thrash band. “At least they never put out a Black album” as if not stooping to the very depths is a success in its own right?

  20. Martin Wyer Says:

    A purchased review if ever I did see one.

  21. Atrocious bullshit. 9.5/10 is laughable, but here’s what you need to know: everything in black in that pile of bilge is SEO material and nothing else.

  22. Yes, 9.5 is fucking laughable alright. There are fewer and fewer genuine reviews out there.

    That’s an area this site has to be commended for, the critique is honest and I genuinely don’t see any “product” being pushed around here. Some big albums have been slated here and not without just cause.

  23. Thanks. What I can promise all of you is that if there has been an advertising connection on here to any material reviewed or featured, it will be marked clearly as such. And has been, for several years now.

    The above is just fucking chronic, but its far from alone.

  24. Have to say, for all the ganching that goes on in the forums here, the reviews do indeed play a straight bat. I’ve bought (or avoided) many an album purely on the basis of an MI review and very rarely been led astray.

  25. King Hostile Says:

    I hear black their last good album? nah …. WFO was after I hear black…. WFO is an amazing album I also like Necroshine.

    Didn’t like the last album but will defo check this out.

  26. Princess Of The Dawn Says:

    Christopher Owens, I don’t know what happened to you the day you wrote/listened to this album but to put it politely you’re a reviewer that is either deaf or has a grudge against Overkill and or Bobby Blitz. I can’t be arsed to go into as much depth as you have on this albums review, but you saying Bobby phoned it in is Super Bullshit that has to be highlighted. It’s as good as anything he’s sung in the last 10 – 15 years. A piss poor attempt at a review, like the saying goes opinions are like assholes. Everyone’s got one, but some stink way more than others!

    This album is banging 2017 Heavy Metal from old school Men who know how to do it…. Well

  27. Princess of the Dawn = Bobby Blitz

  28. Leigh Leigh Says:

    Princess, if you’d read the review, you’d have seen this:

    “In fact, Blitz is really the best asset the LP has. He sings with conviction and passion”

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