Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Crossover Top Ten

I was talking to a (much younger) friend who wanted to know where to start with crossover. I'm not the biggest fan of the style (I've always preferred grindcore, crossover's nastier, less goofy offspring), but I am from the generation when D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies shirts were ubiquitous, and over the years I have come to appreciate a few of the genre's standard bearers. Talking with my buddy got me revisiting my old crossover albums; here are my faves:

DRI - The Dirty Rotten LP
DRI - Crossover

The album that laid out the crossover blueprint, and the band that coined the term. Crossover as a genre I can take or leave, but DRI always sends me running in circles.

Ratos De Porão - Brasil

Mostly known for their association with Sepultura (who made RDP's "Crucificado Pelo Systema" a staple of their live shows), these guys hold their own against any of the big names of the genre. Showing the band at their tightest and heaviest, this album bears a curious similarity to one released a few years later called Chaos A.D.

Corrosion of Conformity: Animosity

The first crossover album I ever heard, at the tender age of 16. Politically conscious and musically manic, I had this on cassette - pretty much the best introduction to the genre a young hesher could get.

Cryptic Slaughter: Convicted

Cryptic Slaughter took speed to a whole new level, inspiring a new wave of bands to do the same - no less authority than Napalm Death cite them as a major influence.

Suicidal Tendencies - S/T

A few years ago while in Generation Records, I overheard a couple teenage heshers discussing how awesome Suicidal Tendencies were. Even though I mostly missed the boat on ST, it made me happy that new generations of metal and punk fans are still discovering and loving their music. Their debut album is the band's defining statement, and "Institutionalized" is one of crossover's most recognizable anthems - one that resonated with angry and misunderstood teenagers for decades. I mean, how could it not? All we wanted was a Pepsi.

Cro Mags - Age of Quarrel

Few NYHC bands embraced metal with the gusto of the Cro Mags. From their first album, they made it clear that they weren't embarrassed with the association, and even played shows with Destruction and Celtic Frost. On both stage and record, Cro Mags brought some much needed muscle and menace to crossover.

Agnostic Front - Cause For Alarm

Over their long career, Agnostic Front seemed to go back and forth between either distancing themselves from their metal phase or cashing in on it. But Cause For Alarm, their first foray into thrashier waters, opened the band up to a new audience of metalheads (not that we were always welcomed by the band's skinhead fans).

Filthy Christians - Mean

Everything I knew about Filthy Christians I learned from Entombed's liner notes. Seeing their name in Clandestine's "thank you" list, I was immediately intrigued. It took another decade before I was finally able to track down their lone album; rather than another band trying to emulate the Sunlight Studios sound, Mean is a unique slice of crossover that dabbled in the grindcore and death metal styles that were emergent at the time.

Spudmonsters - Stop the Madness

Honestly, it's hard to recommend The Spudmonsters over more important bands like SOD, Nuclear Assault, or the Crumbsuckers. They were late to the game and largely missed crossover's glory days, but don't hold that against them. Some of the members later resurfaced in Mushroomhead, but don't hold that against them either. I've always had a soft spot for this Cleveland crew, mostly because of the cover of Stop The Madness, which features the decapitated heads of Axl Rose, Bon Jovi, and Vince Neil. Definitely worth the $1.99 I spent on this.