The Grinding Wheel
The Blitz Abides
dB rating: 8/10
Release Date: February 10, 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast
During the heyday of thrash metal 25 years ago—employing the 1991 Clash of the Titans package featuring Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer touring behind Persistence of Time, Rust in Peace and Seasons in the Abyss, respectively, as a high water mark—Overkill served as a gleefully mischievous, electrifying second-tier presence, but never really gained enough of a foothold to become a propulsive force within the subgenre. Even as someone who loved the band, went to see them innumerable times at midsize-if-still-appropriately-seedy clubs, and was once compelled as a young teenager to surrender a classic middle-finger-raised !!!FUCKYOU!!! T-shirt by a mother inexplicably not down with rotten-to-the-core electro-violence, I sort of intuitively recognized the band as creators of awesome auxiliary jams for certifiable metal maniacs possessing appetites too voracious to be sated by the Big Four alone.
And yet, paradoxically, as the New Jersey quintet creeps toward its fortieth anniversary—at least for sole original lineup survivors Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (vox) and D.D. Verni (bass)—Overkill embodies and actualizes thrash metal with far more verve, vitality and authenticity than the bands in whose shadow they once toiled. Indeed, the infectious, punk-infused maelstrom of galloping riffage and goblin wails that comprise band’s 18th (!) full-length The Grinding Wheel so naturally enliven, so effortlessly slay, it makes the Ghost of Thrash-mas Past chasing of the now-lumbering behemoths of yesteryear all the more confounding and unappealing. Sure, there were some undeniably middling years in the mid- to late-’90s—though, credit where credit is due, no ill-advised Bob Seeger covers. Since 2010’s Ironlung, however, Overkill has been on a consistently sick, blistering tear. When Ellsworth screams, “We ain’t never gonna stop” on The Grinding Wheel’s pedal-to-the-metal-straight-through-the-gates-of-Hades anthem “Goddamn Trouble,” it feels less like boast than prophecy.
— Shawn Macomber
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