Genre: fastcore / crossover / grindcore
For a brief period, it seemed that NYC Mayhem were to be the shining beacon of extreme music, but after a series of underground releases, the whole thing sort of imploded on itself, and out of the ashes of NYC Mayhem rose legendary hardcore band Straight Ahead. Hells Headbangers have collected NYC Mayhem's underground releases (demos and live recordings etc.) and released them in the form of "The Metal and Crossover Days".
The release is in a way both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. The number of songs on the two discs is a bit overwhelming (we are talking 60+ songs), but the reason is, of course, that NYC Mayhem operated primarily with microsongs. Another overwhelming aspect of this collection is the intensity and speed with which the songs are performed. The songs are insanely fast and chaotic, and I think that describing the music on the album as a type of proto-grindcore would not be that far fetched.
While overwhelming in quantity and velocity, the release is a bit underwhelming when it comes to quality. I do not mean to say that the music is bad - not at all - but, since NYC Mayhem did not shy away from rerecording the same tracks several times, which means that the same songs figure several times throughout the compilation, resulting in lack of variation. Then again, it cannot be denied that listening to different versions of the same song is an interesting experience. In terms of production, the quality varies from really lo-fi to considerably listenable. This is, of course, the logical outcome of the release collecting different releases and the fact that the material collected here primarily consists of underground releases from the 80s. The production on the first disc is really low quality, and in some of the songs it is virtually impossible to hear what is going on if you do not have some really good loudspeakers or headphones, while the production quality is, to varying extents, slightly higher on the second disc. Interestingly, the production inconsistency actually contributes with a feel of variation, plus it should also be a sort of authenticity stamp appealing to collectors of old school extreme metal and hardcore releases.
Musically, the 60+ tracks on this compilation fall somewhere between fastcore and crossover thrash. The performance is generally sloppy, but the music itself has a lot of potential and the is nothing wrong with the ideas behind the music. The combination of really fast picking and blast beats with thrashy riffage and even some traditional metal elements (as in 'Ripped to Shred' and the many versions of 'Taken By Storm' found on the collection) works pretty well, and, given the band's history and role in extreme music, the sloppiness is forgivable. While the vocals consist mainly of goofy yells, the music itself has the intensity of early grindcore, and I think that fans of early grindcore releases like "Scum" and "Reek of Putrefaction" will find this one an interesting listen, too, although it features more hardcore elements than the Napalm Death and Carcass classics.
This one, while interesting, will probably primarily appeal to fans of NYC Mayhem as well as collectors of obscure hardcore releases than to the general metal audience. The metal elements abound on this collection to be sure, and if you are a metalhead with an interest in the various converging points of hardcore punk and extreme metal, then "The Metal and Crossover Days" collection of NYC Mayhem material is definitely also worth exploring.