If the first image in your head after hearing the name Iron Reagan was the Gipper replacing Tony Stark and fighting crime in a mechanical war suit, you may not share the same political platform as this band. Worse Than Dead, the band’s first full-length, paints a portrait of Reagan the villain, sucking the blood from the poor and leaving their emaciated bodies rotting in gutters overflowing with urine and rat carcasses. Like all my favorite political music, the lines between punk, thrash and speed metal vanish in a blur of machine gun riffing and fiery rage burning hotter than a combusted Molotov. If your favorite Slayer album after Reign in Blood is Undisputed Attitude then carve an anarchy symbol on the closest police car and escape to listen to this album now.
With members of Municipal Waste and Suppression/Darkest Hour, this is a group of crossover renegades who know how to rock long hair and sweat bands while inspiring raised fists and violent resistance. From the shouted countdown kicking off “Drop the Gun” to the appropriate warning sirens of “Walking Out,” this is a furious, frenzied assault on the conservative elite. While speed is the name of the game this in no way sacrifices the creativity of the riffs, which branch off from thrash to include moments of hardcore stomp-and-start and ominous melody, as heard in “Pay Check.” There are also the guest vocals from Lock-Up’s Tomas Lindberg on “Snake Chopper” and the show-stealing (and hilariously titled) instrumental track “I Ripped That Testament A New Asshole” as examples of surprises available to listeners who think they’ve heard everything exceptionally fast metal had to offer.
I have heard the same complaint from fans reluctant to embrace a specific sub-genre over and over: All the songs sound the same. This is not specific to thrash, though I have heard increasing scrutiny of crust/d-beat bands that have “nothing new to offer.” One of the things that makes Worse Than Dead such a compelling listen is how contemporary it feels while still displaying inspiration and appreciation for the pioneers of hardcore punk. The old-school mid-gallop solo on “Midlothian Murder Mile” and the gang vocals driving “The Debt Collector” are sure to push original fans of D.R.I. and Gorilla Biscuits fans into the pit to share their veteran moshing experience with the younguns. This music is cross-generational, totally fresh and modern. Still, Iron Reagan would grab the nearest crowbar and smash bank windows side-by-side with the forefathers of thrash.
Regardless of political affiliation, if you like your riffs faster than a stock market crash and fueled by the meanest breeds of punk, Worse Than Dead is a gritty, catchy slice of crossover chaos your ears will gladly bleed for. Arm yourself with this album and prepare for the revolution.
Go check out Iron Reagan’s Facebook page over at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/IRON-REAGAN
And grab a copy of their album from those lovely, mean bastards over at A389 here: http://www.a389records.com/site/releases/