Last review, we commended Beck’s 1998 album Mutations. This time, we’re talking about Virginia-based crossover thrash band Iron Reagan’s 2017 album Crossover Ministry. So let’s sing its praises and discuss its shortcomings – but take this as testament the fact that good music comes in different forms and genres.
Simply put: Crossover Ministry is fast-paced chaos made up of 18 songs weighing in at just under 30 minutes and made up of well-written music with catchy riffs and consistent boosts of energy.
For me, the album strikes the balance of punk and thrash metal that makes the crossover thrash genre so intensely captivating. It takes the vibe of late 80s metal bands and produces a sound shrouded in darkness, pessimism and violence and the result is heavy as hell. Songs such as ‘Grim Business’, ‘Fuck the Neighbours’ and ‘Condition Evolution’ have a great flow, catchy chorus and reckless breakdowns. The titular song, ‘Crossover Ministry’ is straight up, no-nonsense hardcore.
Alongside the musical composition, vocalist Tony Foresta (of Municipal Waste) provides “a mix of his trademark goofball humour and on-point jibes about the sorry state of the planet” – as Noisey stated whilst premiering the album via a streaming service.
‘Fuck the Neighbours’ exerts feeling of teenage angst and defiance of authority in favour of partying harder and for longer – “Strangers suggesting I keep my voice down, just because it’s 5 am, not my problem or my fault you picked this place to live. Fuck the neighbours, fuck your yard,” yells Foresta. Think Beastie Boys ‘Fight for your Right’ but crank up that intensity about ten times.
And whilst the lyrics of previous album Tyranny of Will (2014) dealt with political corruption, Crossover Ministry reloads and takes aim at organised religions in songs ‘Dogsnotgods’, ‘A Dying World’ and ‘Megachurch’ – “A massive system of fraud built upon the word of God” claims the latter song (a critical assessment for sure, but the song for me is probably the weakest on the album. I just can’t get on with those whiny vocals).
In the midst of this, songs such as ‘You Never Learn’, ‘No Sell’ and ‘Power of the Skull’ inject energy and speed and maintain the steadfast pace.
Yet whilst the album is captivating whilst listening, once I unplugged from its airwaves I haven’t found myself returning for more. Instead, the nod to 80s metal bands simply puts me in the mood to listen to Exodus or Suicidal Tendencies, or even the early 90s outfits like Sick of it All (see Scratch the Surface, 1994). The intensity of the songs are exciting, this is true, but it’s hard to pick this up and listen to again in the wrong frame of mind.
It’s good to mosh to, but when enjoying a warm coffee in your study? Trust me, it creates an uneasy atmosphere.
Look, that’s not a criticism necessarily of Iron Reagan but more the genre they’re in. Accessibility is not a selling-point of the thrash genre but, sadly, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a criticism. Mike C-Town hit the nail on the head when he said that these bands get thrown into a bucket and their sound blends into one sort-of drone.
In my opinion, Crossover Ministry is a good album for people looking for a gateway into crossover thrash, grindcore and hardcore punk. You might not find yourself coming back for more, but it will give you an ear for the genre and lead you towards the artists Iron Reagan draw inspiration from. Here’s looking at you Suicidal Tendencies. But, at the end of the day, I feel that alongside Backtrack’s Lost in Life (2014), this album is a decent example of when a modern band of this genre gets it right. It’s smart, catchy and, above all, fast.
Verdict: 6.5 out of 10