Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 15/4
Written by: AP on 26/02/2017 21:08:24
Little is left to imagination by the title of Iron Reagan’s third and latest onslaught, “Crossover Ministry”; rather, it effectively sets in stone the austerity with which the Richmond, VA-based quintet interprets crossover thrash. Originally envisioned as a side-project by members of Darkest Hour (drummer Ryan Parrish), Municipal Waste (vocalist Tony Foresta & guitarist Phillip ‘Landphil’ Hall) and ANS (guitarist Mark Bronzino) in 2012, the band has since developed into a more established act, albeit without sacrificing the sardonic gleam that was always part of their charm. It is inevitable that a band with one foot each in thrash and hardcore punk should entertain a degree of anti-authoritarianism but unlike many other purveyors of crossover, Iron Reagan has seldom bothered with real activism. Rather, “Crossover Ministry” plays like a prolonged “FUCK!”, slinging morsels of general frustration with the ills of the modern world at the listener.
Packing songs that rarely surpass two minutes in length, “Crossover Ministry” is a blunt and crude affair, with a heavy emphasis on simple, powerchord-based arrangements played at a blistering tempo and Foresta opining through spates of inimical yelling. The band glorifies the most rudimentary elements of the two underlying sub-genres and as such, the record is both absolutely formulaic and devoid of any intricacy or subtext. Still, songs like “Dead with My Friends” and especially “Fuck the Neighbors” are oddly cathartic and, by extension, much more memorable than they should be. The former’s venomous diatribe against insincerity, monoculture and authority is made relatable by shaving off any pretence and focusing on the message — just imagine drinking cheap beer and raging at the world with your pals to the tune of this verse, as the latest political farce unfolds:
”Sick of this place I want to be dead with my friends! Sick of this world I want to be dead with my friends! Sick of being stuck in a monotonous space! Sick of all the words coming out of your face! Sick of my life I want to be dead with my friends!”
Laid unto a galloping beat and bitter riffage, the song is as primitive as they come. But on the other hand, it is refreshing to hear things boiled down to basics or fired off the hip once in a while. Certainly, there is nothing political at all about “Fuck the Neighbors”, which tackles a source of annoyance so mundane that it should strike a universal chord. The best humour is often laced with truth, which is probably why a stanza like ”Fuck the neighbors! / Fuck your yard! / The more that you complain, the more we’ll go hard! / We know you’re the one that calls the cops, then politely wave to our face!” sticks with such ease. On other tracks, such as “Grim Business” and “Megachurch”, the harsh pummel is seasoned with a compelling lead melody or disturbing clean voice, while others still are simply distinguished by sheer enmity or the infectiousness of their groove (with “More War” and “Bleed the Fifth” both exemplifying those traits).
Given the stringent conventions that reign over crossover thrash, “Crossover Ministry” is thus an unexpectedly engaging listen. The philistine style makes it ideal for venting some pent up anger, while the experience of the musicians involved ensures that it comes loaded with enough hooks and punchlines to linger in the memory as well. High art it is not, but it is hard to imagine a record more apt at fuelling pits, getting the fists pumping and just facilitating some good ol’ drunken raging.
Download: Grim Business, Dead with My Friends, Fuck the Neighbors, More War, Bleed the Fifth
For the fans of: Cro-Mags, D.R.I., Municipal Waste
Release date 03.02.2017