Iron Reagan – Crossover Ministry
Released by: Relapse Records
Released on: February 3rd, 2017.
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Iron Reagan’s third full length and their second for Relapse follows their up 2012’s Tyranny Of Will once again combining politics, b-movie references, trash culture and thrash culture into a blistering collection of thrash/hardcore crossover bliss. Made up of Tony Foresta (better known as Tony Waste from Municipal Waste) on vocals, Phill Hall (also of Municipal Waste but also of Cannabis Corpse) and Mark Bronzino (formerly of ANS) on guitar, Rob Skottis (of Hellbear) on bass and fast Ryan Parrish (Darkest Hour) on drums, band has clearly got a sense of humor about what they do, but they do it so well you might not notice.
The first of the eighteen tracks on this platter is Dying World, sets things right immediately with two and a half minutes of pure, unadulterated mosh. Big riffs, thundering drums, a chorus you can sing along to with gang vocals, even a bit of feedback. It’s all here, classic crossover thrash/punk as advertised. You Never Learn is a forty-four second bruiser with the band playing as fast as they ever have – complete speed metal madness that’s over before you realize it’s even started. Grim Business also clocks in around two and a half minutes, it’s a bit chunkier sounding with some killer cymbal work from Parrish. The band’s politics shine through now more than ever – but given the completely fucked up state of the country right now, that’s a good thing. Music with a message and all that, but never once at the expense of the fun you should have by listening to it, personified by Waste’s weird grunting on this third track. Dead With My Friends, by far the longest track on the album at almost four minutes, starts off with some somber instrumentation off of which Parrish and Skottis build some heavy, doomy rhythm before the twin guitar attack is launched. A minute later and the band reaches their cruising speed with Waste’s vocals holding fast and steady even when some effects are added to them for the chorus.
No Sell is fourteen seconds of riffs and grunts. Condition Evolution is a bit more interesting at two minutes, a straight ahead thrash track with super-catchy riffs and a chorus that you’ll latch on to the first time you hear it. Fuck The Neighbors is an album highlight. Not only is a great showcase for the band’s humor (“fuck the neighbors, fuck your yard, the more that you complain the more we’ll go hard”) but it’s almost anthemic with its rallying cry against suburban squares and party pooper cops! Power Of The Skull is just short of the one minute mark, but it makes a big impression, it’s fast enough to burn the skin off your face. It’s also awesome because it’s about how cool skulls are. The title track, Crossover Ministry, is a two minute proclamation, a love letter to the musical genre that these guys are so clearly enamored with and inspired by and at the same time a finger poke at the hypocrisy of organized religion. More War is a ninety-seven second chunk blower, with a bit of a sludgier sound than anything else on the record and some biting political satire in the lyrics. This segues nicely into Blatant Violence, an eighty-five second blast that fits right in.
Parents Of Tomorrow is a seven second barrage of noise, but Bleed The Fifth (see the video posted below) is a brooding, dark track about getting away with murder, or at least trying to. Megachurch again takes on religion and the hypocrisy of the bigger, money loving churches out there. Waste’s vocals are whinier here, in parts at least, there’s weird harmonies going on, it sounds more like Suicidal Tendencies than D.R.I., which is a very slight departure from the rest of the record. Shame Spiral is a ninety-eight second dirge about overdoing it and regretting actions impaired by substance abuse, while Dogsnotgods is eighty seconds even on why dogs are cooler than religion and Eat Or Be Eaten is a quick, thirty-two second mini-song in the grand crossover tradition (and again a reflection of the humor inherent in the band). Last but not least, Twist Your Fate ends things on a note similar to the dire warning we got with the album’s opener – things are band and getting worse.
But hey, until we’re dead from the inane actions of our ‘elected’ officials, we can bang our heads and pump our fists to insanely intense albums like this one. Yeah it might be a bit repetitive and not everyone will appreciate the S.O.D. style ten seconds songs but it’s all part of crossover’s history and style and so it does fit right in here. More than just a throwback act, Iron Reagan lay down insanely tight riffing, blistering solos that never overstay their welcome, solid bass playing and some of the best drumming you’re going to hear in the current day thrash scene. Add Waste’s over the top but entirely fitting vocals to the mix and it’s impossible not to love this album.