Alexandros Anesiadis’ encyclopedic tome, Crossover the Edge: Where Hardcore, Punk and Metal Collide, captures all the passion and exhilaration of hardcore, punk, and thrash’s fusion in the 1980s. Obviously, old school bands and a heap of nostalgia play key roles in the book’s attraction, but Crossover the Edge isn’t simply a rose-tinted voyage back in time. Anesiadis happily criticizes groups and digs into controversies, meaning his book avoids being yet another punk or metal hagiography.
Instead, Crossover the Edge is a warts-and-all tale full of rough-edged characters and unvarnished opinions. “Pure fandom” set Anesiadis on the path to writing Crossover the Edge – with bands like Agnostic Front, D.R.I. and Cro Mags being some of his early favorites – but he’s still frank and forthright about the fact that not every crossover band deserves a medal, and that metal and punk’s relationship was often complex and tumultuous.
Crossover the Edge begins with an enthusiastic foreword from UK author and musician Ian Glasper, and if you’ve ever read one of Glasper’s excellent (and similarly encyclopedic) works on punk or metal, you’ll be familiar with the format here. Crossover the Edge features scores of band biographies, with many supplemented by album recommendations and interviews with musicians from crossover’s heyday. Various countries and regions are unpacked chapter by chapter, and Crossover the Edge features countless photos, including flyers from legendary and long-forgotten shows.
Anesiadis cites over 500 groups in Crossover the Edge, and his commentary combined with plenty of self-aware and honest interviews, paints an evocative cultural and historical picture of crossover’s halcyon days. All the king-pins you’d expect are here, with Crumbsuckers, Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion of Conformity, Excel, and Leeway joining the groups mentioned above. Groups like Gang Green, Hogan’s Heroes, Nuclear Assault, Attitude Adjustment, Cryptic Slaughter, Beowulf, Bl’ast, and Final Conflict are all here too, along with many, many more.
Even better, the renowned names are accompanied by a heap of unfamiliar ones, including a long list of overlooked, unheralded and underrated bands. (Like Ardkore, Dirge, and The Icemen, or Savior, A.M.Q.A., and The Boneless Ones.) There are countless little-known stories of good times, mistiming, and outright disasters scattered throughout the book, and there’s always something new to discover on the next page.
Dozens of North American bands feature, including Canadian outfits like Beyond Possession, D.B.C., and Dayglo Abortions. Well-known UK groups like Sacrilege, Onslaught, Hellbastard, Broken Bones, English Dogs, Axegrinder and Deviated Instinct are all here too. As are lesser-known albeit still fun UK bands like Concrete Sox, Anihilated, Decadence Within and others.
Elsewhere, Crossover the Edge covers Brazillian bands like Lobotomia, Armagedom, and Ratos De Porao. Plus, Agony (Sweden), Raw Power (Italy), Draksen (Mexico), Rumble Militia (Germany) and plenty of other international bands turn up too. Anesiadis even includes a chapter on non-crossover bands that clearly appealed to crossover fans: see groups like Amebix, Doom, Discharge, Holy Terror, and more.
If that doesn’t sound exhaustive enough, don’t worry, there’s plenty more!
In fact, it’s fucking staggering how much time, effort, and study Anesiadis has poured into Crossover the Edge. Case in point, the book’s final chapter, which digs deeper into crossover bands from the US and UK, and then goes on to explore 30+ countries from Singapore to Russia, Peru to Norway, Japan to Greece, Austria to Australia, and… well, you get the picture. (Plus, Anesiadis includes a handy Top 50 Crossover Records list at the end of the book too.)
Anesiadis is clearly a knowledgeable author, excited to talk about underdogs and obscure recordings as much as well-known bands. Crossover the Edge is incredibly in-depth, and painstakingly researched too. However, there’s also no mistaking Anesiadis’ bias given the number of times he makes cutting remarks about metal while often giving punk a free pass. That said, arguing about Anesiadis’ more contentious observations is obviously all part the fun, and let’s be honest, strongly argued opinions are always more interesting than bootlicking and ass-kissing.
There are bands missing from Crossover the Edge’s pages. To Anesiadis’ credit, he’s acknowledged that and featured some of them on Crossover the Edge’s bustling Facebook page, noting he’d love to include even more bands in subsequent editions.
All up, Crossover the Edge is breathtakingly comprehensive, and always outspoken, and it’s overflowing with all the victories, failures, squabbles, and music industry woes from crossover’s primal years. You’re obviously free to argue about who is or isn’t here, and you’re welcome to disagree with Anesiadis’ conclusions too. None of that takes away from the fact that Crossover the Edge features a first-class mix of well-known and comparatively unknown bands, and the book grants a few unsung heroes some long-overdue time in the spotlight.
For older fans, like myself, who were present at crossover’s birth, Crossover the Edge is a powerful reminder of the explosive energy and attitude that instinctively hooked us back in the day. For newer fans, you’ll simply not find a more extensive or engaging primer. Crossover the Edge tells endless entertaining and illuminating tales, and best of all, like the music it covers, Crossover the Edge pulls no punches.
Kudos to Anesiadis. Crossover the Edge is a phenomenal effort, all-round.