Iron Reagan - The Tyranny Of Will (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Iron Reagan

The Tyranny Of Will (2014)

Relapse Records

I was an impressionable teenager when thrash and crossover were at their peak popularity. Bands like D.R.I., Cro—Mags and Corrosion of Conformity were my heroes. I considered their combination of punk and metal to be the zenith of musical evolution. I loved the way the two sounds came together, while each maintained its individual identity. If you went to a D.R.I. show in the late '80s, half the crowd was convinced they were a punk band, while the other half would swear they were metal. Those two audiences didn't mix much back in those days, and it was a rare band that could bring them together. Iron Reagan is a band that can bridge those two worlds.

The Tyranny Of Will is the second full length from the Richmond, VA band, and their first for metal powerhouse Relapse Records. Iron Reagan started out as a side project, and is sometimes referred to as a supergroup. With members coming from Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse and Darkest Hour, the names involved might be a bit obscure for the supergroup designation. The side project label may not last long either, as this stands poised to overshadow the groups that spawned it.

The music is well executed thrash along the lines of S.O.D. or Anthrax. The excellent drumming especially reminds me of vintage Anthrax. Vocalist Tony Foresta has an abrasive voice that perfectly suits the material. He sounds confrontational and maintains his intensity throughout the record. The album's subject matter covers some familiar ground. Some songs are vaguely political ("Patriotic Shock," "In Greed We Trust"), reminiscent of D.R.I. or Cro—Mags. Some songs are funny ("Rat Shit," "U Lock The Bike Cop"), like S.O.D. or Anthrax. Others have horror themes ("Eyeball Gore," "Bleeding Frenzy"), and will remind you of early Slayer or The Accused. The lyrics are biting and tongue in cheek, more sarcastic than offensive.

The Tyranny Of Will has a whopping 24 tracks, clocking in at just over a half hour. Many of the songs are a minute or two long, but quite a few come in at less than a minute. "Glocking Out" and "Your Kid's An Asshole" (one of my favorites), are each 12 seconds long. These short tracks prove that sometimes it's best to keep an idea short, rather than expanding it to more traditional song length and risking ruining the joke. "Consensual Harassment" is a favorite of mine that features some gnarly female vocals. Closing song "Four More Years" is the longest on the album at just over four minutes. Its like a soundtrack to a post—apocalyptic political rally and has the record's best lead guitar work.

While Iron Reagan looks to the past for inspiration, this is not really a retro band. Its sound and subject matter are relevant and modern. If there's any justice in the world, Iron Reagan will lead younger fans back to the bands that informed their sound. It would blow a lot of minds if a whole new generation discovered the original crossover bands. I would personally love it if this music made its way into the hands of the fans of the first wave of thrash. People who haven't bought a new release since '95 would have a newer band to care about. The Tyranny Of Will doesn't quite reach the sublime highs of Dealing With It or The Age Of Quarrel , but it's close enough to be talked about in the same conversation.