Thrashing, hardcore metalpunks Iron Reagan are a hard band to dislike, with members from universally praised acts like Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour joining forces in a more anarcho-punk leaning project, sounding something like if the 80’s incarnations of Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies had a bratty, snotty but supremely clever, shit talking baby. IR was always on my radar (2014’s “The Tyranny of Will” is an ass kicker of a record), but just how good they are didn’t fully gel for me until I finally caught them live last year .
Skeletonwitch is one of my favorite bands, and Oathbreaker‘s “Rheia” was one of my top releases last year, but I’ll be a son of a bitch if it wasn’t Iron Reagan that made the biggest impression on me at that show, their set being the type of life reaffirming revelation of cathartic Zen that a heavy music concert experience so rarely achieves. Their new record “Crossover Ministry” is almost as righteously, ragingly cathartic. Those who dig what they hear here and haven’t yet caught the band live should rectify that immediately to get the full experience, but much of the 18 tracks on “CM” deftly capture what makes Iron Reagan such a rare, refreshing and ingratiating phenomenon in modern aggressive music.
Showing a verisimilitude you wouldn’t have known was missing on the more straight ahead, thrashing “TTIW” until “CM” smacks you in the face with it, the relentless, motor mouthed assault of “You Never Learn” butts heads with the awesomely incongruous piano intro of “Dead With My Friends”. A gloriously chugging 80’s thrash intro marches into “More War”, while finger twisting speed pick Armageddon leads “Megachurch” and fearlessly catchy sing song-y shout-alongs power “Bleed The Fifth” and “Power Of The Skull”. IR have crafted a singular statement of skull crushing intent with “Crossover Ministry” that’s impressive to say the least from a band this early in their life cycle.
As great as it is though, ultimately the record is still just a souvenir from (or a preview of for the sadly uninitiated) the band’s raucous rager of a live show, which isn’t a slight at all. It’s hard to pack the good natured feeling of mosh pit brotherhood onto a record, but “Crossover Ministry”, just like “The Tyranny of Will” before it, is an incredibly satisfying sonic snapshot of one of very best touring acts currently in the business.