Overkill - Grinding Wheel

Overkill Grinding Wheel cover
Grinding Wheel
Nuclear Blast Records
Overkill, several albums in their career (nineteen to be precise), keep churning out heavy thrash flavored metal… but after a trio of fairly inspired and punishing albums, seem to experience a bit of fatigue and fall victim to grinding out, without taking a bit of time to reinvigorate.
“Mean, Green, Killing Machine” doesn’t have any issue getting the sound across, but it’s only the chorus managing to somewhat register in between a too familiar process and the breaks and “clean” singing, which isn’t exactly Blitz’s forte, sound like an experiment that went a bit wrong. A 7 minute song that sounds like someone injected a slow jam in the middle of a mediocre mid-tempo, with a catchy chorus is just not cutting it. Weirder yet is simple but effective that suddenly erupts at the sixth minute… had this been 3-4 minutes sure, it would have been OK, but this mean green mother fucker is just too long winded and slow to register any “damage”.
“Goddamn Trouble”, despite a nifty riff, this is also “by the numbers” track, too plain and punky to really make any lasting impression. It’s more like it, but really not on par with the singles from the last three albums… it almost feels like the chorus was forgotten in favor of an extended bridge.
“Our Finest Hour” is much more like it, but it also experiments weirdly with panning and so it sounds a little empty in places. Still a lot better, but it has some weird blitz spastic shouts shouts that are a bit weird. Also I understood why I liked this… it rips off Motorhead quite closely, with a more Udo-esque vocal…
“Shine On” has some nice grooving, but the repetitive c’mon, c’mon and Blitz’s through the nose vocals are anti-climactic, with only the verses working well enough that and the groove.
“The Long Road”, almost seven minutes long, is too repetitious and spreads its nice 3 pronged chorus too thin. This more prog (lol – meaning long winded) and melodiously sensible Overkill is kinda not so good man.
An even more ample example is “Let’s All Go to Hades”; not a bad song per ce, but mostly delivered in the nasal way that doesn’t work for the most part, when Blitz tries to sing melodic and sounds too cat-like, before he switches to the vitriolic screaming usual for certain verses… man the off singing on this piece is almost offensive! A song that could have been good, but has a vocal tone that’s almost comical and gets ruined.
“Come Heavy” is even worse, with Blitz trying to do a bad Rock n roller’s impersonation in “that voice”; it could work for a Dee Snider, but a guy who sounds and actually looks like the Keeper, from Tales from the Crypt… please refrain from trying to “sing” bad…
“Red, White and Blue” might be simple, but because of that and its massive speed manages to sound like it should… it works, as does “The Wheel” for the most part, despite it’s more controlled delivery that only momentarily ups the revs, just when it must; even the vocals here have the right tone…
The title track, despite being long winded etc., is actually pretty epic and works great. It knows what to do and does it when it must, so it feels like a relative throw back in the days of the band’s Atlantic glory… yeah this works
As for the cover of “Emerald” probably not as bad as the Six Feet Under covers on Lizzy material, but seriously nothing to write home about. Skyclad are one of the few bands that managed to do a great rendition of this hymn, but Overkill do just a decent job, with the solo being probably one of the better moments, for obvious reasons…
Overall, a very uneven album, after a hat trick of great releases that’s not as bad as the ones that preceded them, redeemed by a bunch of decent songs, but is not exactly something overtly exciting… and 7 minute songs? Forget it… it simply doesn’t work in any other case than the title track.