Finally Iron Reagan start to step out of the shadow of Municipal Waste.
Iron Reagan have always been an oddity when it comes to super groups/ side projects. Such musical endeavours are normally an opportunity for those involved to explore genres and styles outside of their day job, yet for vocalist Tony Foresta and bassist Phil Hall (a.k.a Land Phil) the thrash stylings of Iron Reagan and Municipal Waste overlap considerably- especially over the course of the band’s previous output. However, on this year’s Crossover Ministry, the band start to put some distance between themselves and ‘the Waste’.
That’s not to say the band are brandishing acoustic guitars and singing ballads, there’s still plenty of fast thrashy aggression to ignite a pit, but instead there’s a movement towards the three chord fury of punk and hardcore rather than the precise attack of thrash metal. Old school hardcore in the vein of Black Flag really comes to the fore in the angsty gang chants and lyrical themes of “Power Of The Skull” and “F*ck The Neighbours” respectively, which has a snotty gnarly quality to really get the listener to grit their teeth and clench their fist. A similar level of seething anger can be found in the flailing drum work of “Blatant Violence” (courtesy of former Darkest Hour drummer Ryan Parrish) or the grindcore style savagery of “No Sell” and “Parents Of Tommorow”. When not crushing skulls and breaking necks, the band know how to notch up the speed and adrenaline with skate punk/hardcore numbers like “Dogs Not Gods” and “Megachurch”- a quirky track that throws in kooky vocals that are jarring yet brilliant as well.
More general weirdness can be found in the doomy piano “riff” that sandwiches the dark hardcore of “Dead With My Friends”, or the fun female vocals all over “Eat Or Be Eaten”. In fact, the best moments on Crossover Ministry are when Iron Reagan throw caution to the wind and play around with a host of sounds and styles- a stark contrast to the straightforward grooves and chugs of “Bleed The Fifth” or “Shame Spiral” that feel a little bit nondescript in comparison.
There are definitely some gems to be found in Crossover Ministry that will satisfy both thrash and hardcore fans alike, without ever feeling rehashed. However, the band really needs to make a concerted effort to lean heavily on their punk and hardcore roots and get weird with their experimentation in order to really forge an identity for themselves. Iron Reagan are finally starting to make tentative steps out of the thrash ghetto.
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