Heavy metal and hardcore punk are spiritual and sonic cousins. Regardless of their similarities, the two underground tribes spent their early years at war. In time, bands from both sides of the divide began openly borrowing characteristics from one another, eventually creating a new genre unto itself – Crossover thrash.
Here are the best crossover thrash records of all time:
10. Attitude Adjustment – American Paranoia
One of the original Bay Area bands to marry hardcore punk and metal, Attitude Adjustment helped put crossover on the map. First released by legendary visual artist Pushead on his Pusmort label, American Paranoia is a tornado of ferocious political venom and frantic, pulverizing riffs. The sound of getting your ass kicked.
9. Leeway – Born To Expire
Although first wave New York hardcore bands had been flirting with metal for awhile, Leeway’s powerful 1989 debut was nonetheless a fearless testament to the changing tide. Bands like Agnostic Front had earned their stripes before they dared play a thrash riff, but Eddie Sutton and company delivered punk viciousness with technical flair right out the gate. If you don’t like Ozzy Osbourne with breakdowns, that’s your problem.
8. Cryptic Slaughter – Convicted
A go for broke onslaught of savage riffs and lyrics boiling with angst, Cryptic Slaughter’s importance to the history of extreme music can’t be understated. Walking the tightrope between hardcore and brutal metal, Convicted delivered combustible speed and aggression unlike any record before. A politically driven masterclass in righteous indignation.
7. Crumbsuckers – Life Of Dreams
If you think Reign In Blood is fast, check this shit out! With 16 tracks clocking in at barely a half hour, Crumbsuckers’ debut is a lightning storm of hook-heavy metal riffs and hardcore rage. Terrifying bursts of acute aggression, with boulder-gargling shouts of fury to match.
6. Excel – Split Image
Taking the frenzied aggression of punk with the musicality of metal, Excel’s debut album is both unapologetically catchy and relentlessly brutal. As fast and abrasive as their peers from the Welcome To Venice compilation, what sets Excel apart from the west coast pack is their penchant for melody. Tough, street conscious anthems.
5. Agnostic Front – Cause For Alarm
When most people think of the first wave of New York hardcore, they think Agnostic Front. These young skinheads encapsulated all of the aggression and decay of their surroundings and ushered in a new age of underground music. Cause For Alarm damn near broke the scene when it came out. Reviled by the punks of the Lower East Side and embraced by the outer borough headbangers, this record changed the shape of the scene forever.
4. Corrosion Of Conformity – Animosity
When punk bands started going metal in the 1980s, they tended to lean heavily on speed, technicality, or fashion (I’m looking at you, SSD). Corrosion Of Conformity took it another direction, and in the process created the bedrock of southern fried sludge. Animosity is a heavy departure from the punk onslaught of Eye For An Eye. By speeding up Black Sabbath songs and incorporating doom-laden moments of respite, Corrosion Of Conformity made a detour from the D.R.I. path into something entirely new and remarkable.
3. Cro-Mags – Best Wishes
How is a band supposed to follow up a perfect hardcore record? In the case of Cro-Mags, they threw out the book entirely and made a perfect crossover record! While the furious energy of Age Of Quarrel channeled Bad Brains at their heaviest, Best Wishes is a love letter to Motörhead at their most punk. An apocalyptic vision of New York on fire, there is a strange optimism at work on this record. Death and rebirth at its best.
2. D.R.I. – Dealing With It!
The definitive record from the definitive crossover band. D.R.I. might have named their third record after the genre but the Bible of the genre is Dealing With It! Although it wasn’t the first album to weave the musicianship of metal with the relentless speed and brutality of hardcore punk, no band harnessed the style and confidence of D.R.I. during this era. At a time when hardcore and metal were at tribal war, Dealing With It! Was the olive branch.
1. Suicidal Tendencies – Lights… Camera… Revolution!
Here it is, the perfect synthesis of metal and hardcore! Suicidal Tendencies are a band that lives their music, and every second of Lights, Camera, Revolution! feels like unmitigated reality. Largely due to the contributions of new bassist Robert Trujillo, the band operate with a complexity and depth on this record that is leagues above their peers. Over three decades later, it’s still the most vital and powerful crossover album ever.