Crossover Thrash

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Crossover thrash, often abbreviated to crossover, is a form of thrash metal that contains more hardcore punk elements than standard thrash. It is sometimes referred to as punk metal, though this is generally incorrect due to the existence of other music genres that combine forms of punk rock and heavy metal, such as grunge, crust punk, sludge, grindcore and more recently metalcore and its subgenres.

While thrash metal is heavily influenced by hardcore punk, the overall sound of crossover thrash is more punk-influenced yet more metal-sounding and aggressive than traditional hardcore punk and thrashcore. The term was coined by the band D.R.I. with their album Crossover, released in 1987.

The term 'crossover' is based on the metaphor of crossing over from one genre into the other, thus capturing artists the operate within the transition zone between thrash metal and hardcore punk. With the metaphor comes the conception of directionality, such that the genre is applied to hardcore and crust punk artists who have crossed over into thrash metal territory, such as D.R.I., Discharge, The Exploited, The Accüsed, Agnostic Front and Suicidal Tendencies (who eventually ventured into alternative metal), and thrash metal artists who crossed over into hardcore punk territory, such as Nuclear Assault and S.O.D.

A number of death metal bands (especially those of the first wave of Swedish death metal) draw on hardcore punk, mainly because their members listen to crossover thrash - these bands are included under the death metal subgenre here at the MMA.

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crossover thrash Music Reviews

M.O.D. Surfin' M.O.D.

EP · 1988 · Crossover Thrash
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UMUR
"Surfin' M.O.D." is an EP release by US crossover act M.O.D.. The EP was released through Megaforce Records in 1988 and bridges the gap between the band´s debut full-length studio album "U.S.A. for M.O.D. (1987)" and their second full-length studio album "Gross Misconduct (1989)". Four of the tracks featured on the EP had already been featured on the "Surfin' U.S.A. (1988)" single, but here those four tracks are accompanied by three additional tracks, and a 23:33 minutes long track titled "The Movie", which is a spoken word piece which features the music tracks from the EP in between the spoken parts. So side 1 of the original vinyl version of the EP features "The Movie", and side 2 features the seven music tracks without the spoken word sections.

Although the tracks are generally slightly more goofy and rock´n´roll oriented than the material on the debut album (which at times were also pretty goofy), this pretty much sounds like a natural successor to "U.S.A. for M.O.D. (1987)". The spoken word part of the project provides it with a slightly experimental touch, but this is at it´s core still crossover thrash. The biggest attraction here is probably the cover of "Surfin' U.S.A." by the Beach Boys, but honestly even that track isn´t that great (although not completely without it´s charm). Billy Milano struggles to hit the right notes, which gives the cover a pretty raw and flippant sound, but pretty it ain´t. To my ears the highlight is "Surf´s Up", which is a nice little catchy crossover track.

The band are relatively well playing, and the sound production is also acceptable, so "Surfin' M.O.D." is overall a decent release by M.O.D.. There´s little here which really makes my blood boil, but a 3 star (60%) rating is still deserved.

S.O.D. Speak English or Die

Album · 1985 · Crossover Thrash
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martindavey87
Stormtroopers of Death (S.O.D... duh!), is a crossover thrash side project of Anthrax members Scott Ian and Charlie Benante, along with Nuclear Assault’s Dan Lilker (formerly of Anthrax himself) and Billy Milano of the band M.O.D. Their debut album, ‘Speak English or Die’ was released in 1985, and is mostly a metal album with a punk mentality, with plenty of short, minute-long songs featuring satirical, aggressive, and downright offensive lyrics.

The problem for me is that it’s not 1985 anymore, and most of the satire, irony and downright offensive material goes straight over my desensitized head. The music is fast and heavy, and when the band do play for more than 30 seconds, there are a couple of decent headbangers here. But for the most part, these are all comical tracks, recorded by a bunch of friends who had some leftover studio time to kill. Oddly, this would go on to be a hugely influential album. Wish I could get that lucky.

Ultimately, this just isn’t my cup of tea, and the only reason it’s in my collection is because I’m a huge Anthrax fan. For what it’s worth, the songs ‘March of the S.O.D.’, ‘Sargent ‘D’ and the S.O.D.’ and ‘Milk’ are alright, and I’ve always found ‘What’s That Noise’ a pretty laughable track, but otherwise this is mostly immature and juvenile, and that’s probably exactly how the S.O.D. intended it to be.

‘Speak English or Die’ is not an album to be taken seriously, and whilst I’ve never been under the illusion that it was anything else, it’s just not something I’m into.

BODY COUNT Murder 4 Hire

Album · 2006 · Crossover Thrash
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UMUR
"Murder 4 Hire" is the 4th full-length studio album by US heavy/crossover metal act Body Count. The album was released through Escapi Music in August 2006. Body Count took a longer hiatus after the release of "Violent Demise: The Last Days (1997)" and there have been quite a few lineup changes in the 9 years between the two albums. Beatmaster V, who died of leukemia shortly after recording "Violent Demise: The Last Days (1997)", has been replaced by new drummer O.T. and Vincent Price has taken over the bass duties from Griz. Rhythm guitarist D-Roc the Executioner died from lymphoma cancer in 2004, which stalled the recording of the album some until the band recruited Bendrix as their new rhythm guitarist.

9 years between albums and lineup changes doesn´t change the fact that the music on "Murder 4 Hire" sounds unmistakably like Body Count. With a charismatic singer like Ice-T behind the microphone it´s really not that strange, and the band´s usual combination of rap, hardcore/punk, heavy metal, crossover thrash, and rhythm´n´blues is also in place.

Despite a few decent tracks (the chorus to "The End Game" is for example really great), the material unfortunately feels a bit uninspired. Something the band themselves have also mentioned in inverviews over the years. But it´s not only the tracks which generally aren´t that memorable, it´s also the delivery, and the sound production which aren´t up to par with the band´s usual standards. First of all new drummer O.T. doesn´t do a very good job at replacing Beatmaster V. He has a drumming style, which sometimes makes me wonder if it´s actually a machine playing. Secondly the normally well playing Ernie C is a shadow of himself. There are not many interesting guitar solos featured on the album, and the riffs are pretty generic and lifeless sounding too.

Combine that with a weak sounding production, where only the vocals stand out in the mix (the instrumental part of the music is way too low in the mix), and you more or less have a recipe for disaster. Not surprisingly "Murder 4 Hire" is a self-produced effort with Ernie C and Ice-T acting as producers. In my experience it´s very seldom a good idea to self-produce your music (with exceptions), and "Murder 4 Hire" is proof of that.

When that is said "Murder 4 Hire" isn´t a total disaster and it´s still obvious we´re dealing with relatively skilled musicians, and the basic song material isn´t completely uninteresting either. It´s just a flawed album which clearly could have been better and the 9 years of waiting for a new Body Count album definitely wasn´t worth it. A 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.

BODY COUNT Body Count

Album · 1992 · Crossover Thrash
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martindavey87
When renowned gangster rapper Ice-T wanted to form a metal band, he hooked up with guitarist Ernie C, and thus, Body Count was born. Blending metal guitar riffs with rapping vocals, the band's music takes a huge inspiration from hardcore, thrash and punk music.

Spewing hatred and anger with lyrics touching upon subjects such as racism, corrupt politicians and gang warfare, Body Count made an immediate splash with the song 'Cop Killer' (sadly not included on my copy of the album), which was highly controversial upon its release. However, all it really did was serve to give the band even more publicity.

Foul-mouthed, and brimming with hardcore metal riffs, 'Body Count' is not for the weak hearted. It's dark and menacing, a huge contrast to the whiny, angst-ridden grunge bands of the early 90's, with Ice-T and company making no effort to hide their displeasure at the mistreatment of coloured people in America. And the music itself packs one hell of a punch. It's heavy and it's ballsy, oozing with attitude but never taking itself too seriously that the band can't afford to be slightly tongue-in-cheek from time to time.

With anthems such as 'Evil Dick', 'Body Count's in the House', 'KKK Bitch', 'There Goes the Neighbourhood', 'Momma's Gotta Die Tonight' and 'The Winner Loses', it's apparent that Ice-T is onto something special here. And his solo track, 'Freedom of Speech', which takes the place of 'Cop Killer' on censored versions of the album, fits in perfectly, both stylistically and lyrically. And there's plenty of skits thrown in between songs to keep the record flowing effortlessly.

This could easily be dismissed as rap metal, and in fairness that's an easy assumption to make, but coming out at the right place and at the right time, Ice-T and Body Count struck gold with this release, and if you're willing to look past the gangster rap stigma of the group, you'll find a pivotal album of early 90's metal.

G.B.H. From Here To Reality

Album · 1990 · Crossover Thrash
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Vim Fuego
The Ramones had a formula of a 4-count + 3 chords + 2 minutes = 1 song. AC/DC had a formula of a simple drum beat, a simple bass line, a “why the fuck didn’t I think of that?” riff from Malcolm, a dirty double entendre from Bon or Brian, and a flash of guitar brilliance and hairy white arse from Angus, and voila! A song!

GBH had a formula which served them well through much of the 80s. A UK82 riff (sorry, that was kinda obvious...), a breakneck bassline, simple, speedy drums, and angry vocals and lyrics straight from the violent streets of Birmingham. It was rough, tough music for difficult times, and it produced such classic albums as the band’s seminal debut “City Baby Attacked By Rats”, “City Baby’s Revenge”, and “A Fridge Too Far”.

By 1990 though, the formula was starting to sound a bit tired. There are only a certain number of ways to put the same few chords together. The musical landscape had shifted somewhat too. Punk had been buried in a tidal wave of thrash metal. The thrash bands stole hardcore’s speed and abrasiveness, and added tighter musicianship to it. GBH was hugely influential on a lot of those metal bands. Quorthon for example said GBH, not Venom, had been the biggest influence on early Bathory. GBH’s peers either split up, like Discharge, Amebix, and The Varukers, or adapted and took on some metal elements, like The Exploited.

GBH took the metal route. Unfortunately, it didn’t fare too well. The result is “From Here To Reality”, which in all honesty, is not a very good album. There are plenty of bootboys out there who will tell you otherwise, but compare it to those early classics, and this is really an anaemic version of the band which blasted out early 80s classics like “Sick Boy” and “No Survivors”.

These guys sound like they’re going through the motions. All the elements are still there, with the piledriver drums, the hard-driving bass, and Colin Abrahall’s snotty, tough vocals, but guitarist Jock seemed to be struggling with how to put together metal riffs.

The album gets off to a somewhat limp start with “New Decade”. Heavy, fast, spiky sounding, but still limp. It’s an odd effect.

“Trust Me I’m A Doctor” has a memorable shout-along chorus, and a damn good main riff reminiscent of the good old days, but there’s something wrong when it’s still the most memorable thing about the album 8 songs later. It’s a hard listen, because it’s something which you so much want to like, but it sounds lost, and disconnected from where it should be. Unremarkable songs like “Mass Production” and “The Old School of Self-Destruction” buzz past, leaving little impression.

“Destroy” sounds like a return to form, which is all well and good, but it’s a Vibrators cover. “Just in Time for the Epilogue” might well be better titled “Just in Time For The Epitaph”, when all of a sudden, the band pulls something right out of left field, and just about redeems a dog of an album. Just about..

“Moonshine” is one of the loosest, laid back tragi-comic slices of cowpunk you’ll ever come across. Yup. These boys from Birmingham have a go at cuntry music… It is just so unexpected, fun, funny, and out of character. It’s like a cross between country rock comedian Mojo Nixon and Social Distortion. It has a yobbo chorus, lyrics about incest and prison rape, slide guitars which just about slide off the record, and a cheeky, sharp sense of fun.

Luckily, GBH were able to revive their career after this album, which was just a bit of a detour down a dead end alley. It’s not great in any way, “Moonshine” excepted. It’s a bargain bin purchase at best, and then only if it’s really cheap.

crossover thrash movie reviews

S.O.D. 20 Years of Dysfunction

Movie · 2005 · Crossover Thrash
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Vim Fuego
'20 Years Of Dysfunction' celebrated the anniversary of the release of the venomous `Speak English Or Die'. Recorded in three days, this relatively short album created huge waves in both the metal and hardcore scenes at the time. Sgt. D stomped into town, annoyed everyone and promptly left again. What started as Scott Ian's hardcore/metal crossover brainchild became Billy Milano's lovechild. S.O.D.'s vocalist has become its biggest fan, and pieced together its recorded history like a fan would.

Like Metallica's seminal `Cliff `Em All' video, the live footage here is mostly bootlegged, although generally of a better quality than the Cliff Burton memorial due to technological improvements.

This is an incredible compilation. For sheer power and head banging, fist pumping enjoyment, there is no better way to start any show than with "March Of The S.O.D/Sgt D & The S.O.D." Scott Ian stomps about the stage like a short, bald Godzilla, destroying buildings and eardrums with his flaming six-string. His polar opposite Dan Lilker is anchored to the stage, skinny and hirsute, head in a THC cloud, sub-sonic bass strung impossibly low. Charlie Benante sits at his drumkit, akin to a manic alchemist, turning gold leaden, amazing all with the dark arts of his craft. Enter Billy Milano. Larger than life in both persona and build, Milano bellows like a wild rhino, and like a rhino looks both comic and dangerous at once.

The ballads are a definite highlight. The original "Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix" provides the template for the rest of the ballads: steal a riff from a dead artist, play it twice and shout "you're dead!" Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Biggie Small, Frank Sinatra, INXS and Jim Morrison all get the treatment. Offensive? Of course. Hilarious? You bet!

Another prime moment of comedy was Milano encouraging a stage diver to jump, so he does- up and down on the spot...

The package includes extensive extras. Pick of the bunch is an interview with producer Alex Perialas, he of "What's That Noise?" infamy. There's an interview by Metal Maniacs reporter Liz with Billy, which covers all things S.O.D. Surprisingly, Billy also included a 9/11 tribute. All New Yorkers were affected by the 2001 terrorist attack, and he witnessed the World Trade Center towers collapse. For someone so often derided for being an insensitive, politically incorrect oaf, Milano's tribute is both thoughtful and poignant.

The largest part of the extra features is the raw material from which the main feature is cut. There are five mini-concerts from around the world, captured during the `Bigger That The Devil' tour, but featuring only `Speak English Or Die' songs.

Included is the audio CD of the infamous `Pussywhipped', bootlegged in 1985 during one of S.O.D.'s initial seven shows. The quality is dodgy, as you'd expect, but it's been cleaned up a little, and the vitality and energy of the original performance remains intact.

The 21-year-old Billy Milano is like a kid whose dreams have all come true at once. Here he is, a singer with limited ability, little different to the assembled audience, backed by three of the world's top thrash musicians. He gives his performance absolutely everything, and it's quite possible to picture the veins bulging, the sweat flying, the fists and eyes clenched as he shouts his way through "Milano Mosh", "Milk", "United Forces", or any of the other tracks. His performance as a screaming harridan on "Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues" is hilarious.

The great thing about the ratty production quality is that all three instruments come through loud and clear. There was nothing technical to tackle, so all the emphasis was on speed and power. Charlie Benante kicks “Speak English Or Die” along faster than the studio version, as he does with a number of tracks, and you get the feeling he could play faster still. Dan Lilker’s bass is so distorted it almost sounds like a guitar, a sound as thick as a prehistoric mammoth-swallowing tar pit. Scott Ian thrashes his guitar like a madman, but never misses a note, sharp and vicious throughout.

As in all S.O.D. performances, there are some priceless moments of spontaneity: Charlie was supposed to play the lead on "United Forces", but it was a little difficult from behind the drum kit; Scott broke his guitar on "Kill Yourself", which forced Dan and Charlie to improvise while he fixed it; and Billy's idiotic introductions to pretty much every song. “Diamonds And Rust” appears three times throughout the show, while “The Ballad Of Jimi Hendrix” receives three consecutive airings.

There are a few non-studio album rarities which pop up here, but were also included on the platinum edition reissue of ‘Speak English Or Die’. “Momo” and “Vitality (Milk Part Two)”, originally by Crab Society, both appeared on the 1992 ‘Live At Budokan’ album, while the cover of Inferno’s “Ram It Up Your Cunt” appeared on the Megaforce ‘Deeper Into The Vault’ compilation. Last track “Not” is exclusive to ‘Pussywhipped’, not that it’s much of a hidden treasure.

The best thing about the inclusion of `Pussywhipped' is that it's a small but important slice of metal history, which is far better presented in this format than on some twelfth generation cassette tape, and the band might finally make something from it.

This is an extensive collection of S.O.D. memorabilia, presented raw and unpolished, just how the band was. The volatility of the relationships between the band members may be such that there might never be any more output from S.O.D. ever again, but the snarling, cigar chomping skull Sgt. D will be remembered forever.

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