Iron Reagan - Crossover Ministry (Relapse)

US thrash merchants issue exhilarating state of the nation address

Released Feb 3rd, 2017 via Relapse / By Erick Mertz
Iron Reagan - Crossover Ministry (Relapse) There are a few obvious puns built in the persona of Richmond, Virginia’s Iron Reagan. Margaret Thatcher? Metal Gods, Iron Maiden. Ronald Reagan? All puns aside though, there has never been a better time for political thrash of this particular old school ilk. At eighteen tracks and a crisp thirty minutes in length, Iron Reagan is a clear throwback to the old ethic where punk was supposed to come across as aggressive and political, and most importantly, be quick about achieving those ends.

Crossover Ministry is a real collection of gems, from the churning metal on the longest, “Dead With My Friends” to the grumbling thrash of “Condition Evolution” these guys manage to seize on an array of anxieties and social hypocrisies all at once. They speak of our collective ails and then wail on “Dying World” that there’s simply no reason to live any longer in a world that’s withering before our eyes. From an informed position, I don’t necessarily agree but it’s bloody nice to know that logic doesn’t exactly inhibit the band’s fury. It’s as though someone saw a global climate change story and decided, fuck it all, I’m pissed about that too. Punk is best when it screams first and ponders later. Tired of sabre rattling? Shout the hypnotically simple chorus on, “More War”. Good old fashion misanthropy to fling at your suburban drone community? “Fuck The Neighbors”. Bemoaning the death of intelligent life on earth? “Powers Of The Skull”.

Iron Reagan sets apart in their consistent ability to bring strong, energetic musicianship to the resistance. Their production is tight with mixing by metal savant Kurt Ballou, and they manage to forge a creative edge while staying true to their shorter structures. By far my favorite track on Crossover Ministry is the title anthem (with honorable mention to “Parents of Tomorrow” which is a single riff and lyric line that clocks in at a blistering seven seconds) vacillating between spurts of furious thrash and soaring traditional metal guitar solos, all while the vocals are barked over the top of the mix. I’m not exactly a fan of a few of their gimmicks, the out of left field shift in vocals on “Megachurch” the hokey “Dogsnotgods” or the snide skit that opens “Fuck The Neighbors” but Iron Reagan is all about giving something a shot and moving on. Often their lyrics are easily understood with good hooks, which is refreshing considering the volatile material. There’s nothing more frustrating than a killer thrash and punk song, built on an obvious political angle that’s jumbled and doesn’t allow me to shout along.

Look, I’m like you. I’m freaked out right now. And with good reason, right? I’m fine with anyone who says, be the change you want to see in the world. I think at heart, I’m there too. Sometimes though, I want to dip my toes into water as hot as what is boiling underneath my collar. If you need that too, Crossover Ministry is a pretty spot on, timely listen.