Crossover may well be the most fun of extreme metal subsets. There’s just something in the tried-and-true combination of thrash and hardcore that, even when lyrically serious, feels irresistibly spirited, perfectly energized and yet possessing enough elements of traditional songcraft to insure a catchy “chorus” or shout-along hook. Sure, crossover is as often concerned with serious societal ills as it is with partying and thrashing, but there’s just something in that beat and those breakdowns that gets the blood flowing and the bodies moving, even as the songs fly by at oft-blistering tempos.
Formed as a side project of party-hardy thrashers Municipal Waste and DC-area melodeath outfit Darkest Hour, Iron Reagan is closest in style to the former, by leaps and bounds. With vocalist Tony Foresta behind the mic in both bands, and guitarist LandPhil Hall writing the riffs, there’s an unavoidable Municipal Waste (ahem) crossover, but in truth, Iron Reagan is a superior band, vital and vicious when Waste’s schtick ran cold three albums back. Taking Municipal’s template and pushing further into the DRI-ish punk metal to which the Waste is inevitably compared, Iron Reagan ups the seriousness without losing any of the head-banging, pit-stirring energy.
The Tyranny Of Will (that guy Will’s an asshole, amirite?) spends most of its time channeling one- to two-minute thrash tunes, breaking those up with the occasional sub-one-minute hardcore blast. Of the former, look no further than the four-song opening shot. From the primal chug of title track through the infectious “I Won’t Go” (just try not to bounce along to that) to “Close To Toast,” The Tyranny Of Will (goddammit, Will, seriously) hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. From there, there are longer highlights like “Miserable Failure,” “Bill Of Fights,” and “In Greed We Trust,” and shorter ones (the twin thirteen-second shots of “Glocking Out” and “Your Kid’s An Asshole,” the latter held over from the band’s pay-what-you-want EP, Spoiled Identity, whereupon it was only half as long). The whole comes to a gang-vocal-and-palm-muted-chunk crescendo in the four-minute “Four More Years,” by far the longest moment on hand, and easily one of the best.
There’s not much to say about Iron Reagan, except that they take the established crossover formula and rip with it. Yes, it’s retro, and yes, it’s been done before, and yes, despite what Foresta claims, he does sound a bit like Kurt Brecht and thus this has a more-than-noticeable DRI slant. But still, when it comes down to it, thrash is about riffs and energy and fun, and The Tyranny Of Will (fuck that Will dude) has all three in copious amounts. Iron Reagan is a more thoughtful and mature vehicle for the Municipal Waste guys, but it’s every bit as big a blast. Now give us four… more… records like this…