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Armed with pioneering pure metal proposals like 'Death Rider', 'The Beast Within' and 'Raise The Dead' already in 1982, New Jersey’s OVERKILL were a rock-solid part of the first clutch of bands forging in fire this music known as thrash metal. Along with METALLICA, EXODUS, SLAYER and cross-town doppelgangers ANTHRAX, D.D. Verni and Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth were helping to create a new form of metal that is still as vibrant today as when the band’s first album, »Feel The Fire«, was issued by Jonny Zazula's Megaforce Records back in the spring of ’85.
Witness OVERKILL’s 18th album of blistering yet precise and thought-provoking thrash magic, »The Grinding Wheel«, a record on which thrash’s ultimate team of five machined parts shows up and executes to perfection... with a little punk thrown in for bad measure.
But a life dedicated to metal can be a grind, hence the title of this sparks-a-flyin’ record. “It just makes sense for us,” reflects D.D. “If you’ve been making metal for almost 40 years like we have, it can be a grind. But we also liked the old school metal idea of referencing ‘Grinder’, the JUDAS PRIEST song, which suits the album because it has classic metal parts on it as well as the thrash parts. There’s a blue collar feel to that title too, and that’s how we approach OVERKILL. The guitar case is basically a lunchbox and we go to work.”
“One of the principles - if not characteristics - of the band is that it’s been grinding through for long, long periods of time,” seconds Blitz. “Decades to this point. And not necessarily with huge gains with regards to popularity, but for sure, with huge gains in as much as we can earn a living while doing the kind of music that we want. And so the idea of grinding it out over the decades became a device for writing the album, whether it would be riffs or lyrics.”
Another favorite lyric of Blitz’, which is set to a non-nonsense old school thrash track, is 'Our Finest Hour'. “It’s about the recognition of sameness,” explains Ellsworth. “I think people are comfortable when they recognize themselves in someone else. And 'Our Finest Hour' is kind of a detailed journey through that concept. It’s like, “Come on over here; I recognize you.” I’ve always been a firm believer in the fact that it’s great to accomplish things on your own, but people are always stronger as a group - that’s the basic outline of that tune.”
At the other end of the spectrum from punk is a song like 'The Long'. D.D. readily agrees that there was a MAIDEN influence as part of this one’s crafting. “Oh yeah, for sure. The opening, along with a little section in there with the vocals, definitely feels like New Wave of British Heavy Metal.”
More evident in the band’s panoramic classic metal passages, but even articulated here on 'Our Finest Hour', is another storied OVERKILL trademark, the definition one gets in the band’s bass parts. Combine this with the Mensa-like percussive wizardry of Ron Lipnicki (laid bare for all to hear at headphone levels through the smack of his gravity-defying double bass work), and »The Grinding Wheel« emerges as a record with a remarkable rhythm section foundation from which to rise.
All songs written by D.D. Verni and Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth
Produced by OVERKILL; mixed by Andy Sneap
01. Mean, Green, Killing Machine
02. Goddamn Trouble
01. Our Finest Hour
02. Shine On
03. The Long Road
01. Let’s All Go To Hades
02. Come Heavy
03. Red, White And Blue
01. The Wheel
02. The Grinding Wheel
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth | vocals
Dave Linsk | lead guitars
D.D. Verni | bass
Derek “The Skull” Tailer |rhythm guitars
Ron Lipnicki | drums