In the wake of whatever you want to call the past year-plus, a lot of well-meaning fools are throwing around the glass-half-full notion that in the age of Trump, at least we’ll have great punk and metal music. Aside from the fact that the underground hasn’t ever lost its quality if you keep looking for it, it’s silly to think that artists magically flip a switch depending on who’s in office. The world has been full of injustice pretty much throughout its existence, and even if four (oh God, please only be four) years of this new administration somehow leads to a rise in the quality of pissed-off music, causation doesn’t necessarily work that way. Instead, we will certainly look to music as a break from the news/fake news cycle, either as a rallying cry for a better world or a way to give a big middle finger to all we disagree with (side note: you don’t have to be a far-leftist to be worried about the state of things).
That’s where the excellent third record from Virginia’s Iron Reagan comes in. The side project from members of Municipal Waste wants to convert you to a new religion, and this album is a near-perfect form of evangelism. Crossover Ministry highlights everything that is/was/and ever shall be great about crossover thrash. It combines what we love about thrash (social awareness, riffs, solos, and a partying mindset) and hardcore punk (speed and attitude). Their past work has consistently been fun, but the third time is definitely a charm, as Crossover Ministry is their most complete work yet. It’s not quite as politically-charged as past works and their name would suggest, but it highlights a general frustration with the world around them (and annoying neighbors).
There are two perfect representations of the style on this record: “Dying World” and the title track. The latter is a worshipful sonic tribute to all that makes crossover so much damn fun, while advocating for the listener to “get off your knees” to false gods. The glorious cover art from Bonethrower makes this message crystal clear. The entire record serves as a love letter and introduction to the style, but don’t make the mistake that this is a dated release. Instead, Iron Reagan make crossover for a new generation, showing how it can serve its purpose in modern America. Because the record was written before the election, the band’s frustrations feel more general and applicable; this isn’t Reagan- or Bush-era fueled targeted angst. It highlights that there’s more to the world than who sits on the throne.
The record flies through, and it’s a credit to Iron Reagan that the band smartly weave more thrash or punk styles into each track to make Crossover Ministry an easy listen and one with easily recognizable tracks. There are a couple tunes near the end that don’t quite work out quite as well (“Dogsnotgods” and “Twist Your Fate”), but they don’t bear too much of a negative effect on the album as a whole. I may still keep my God, but it’s hard to argue that Iron Reagan sell a Hell of a hard bargain on their fantastic third album.