In musical terms, “crossover” describes a meeting and intermingling of two different genres of music, usually a mixture of hardcore punk and thrash metal. This hybrid style has its origins in the mid-1980s, with bands like D.R.I. and Corrosion of Conformity making what are now considered classic albums in that vein.
In musical terms, “crossover” describes a meeting and intermingling of two different genres of music, usually a mixture of hardcore punk and thrash metal. This hybrid style has its origins in the mid-1980s, with bands like D.R.I. and Corrosion of Conformity making what are now considered classic albums in that vein. That stylistic mash-up has undoubtedly inspired many mutations in metal and hardcore, such as the recent trend of “dark hardcore,” music with hardcore energy and ethos, but with guitar tone and riffs directly inspired by 90’s Swedish death metal, and/or Scandinavian black metal of the same era.
Evidence of this trend was on display at Strange Matter on Wednesday, July 23. Mixtures of all sorts were occurring, including the more traditional crossover of headliners Power Trip, as well as the death metal and d-beat concoction of Mammoth Grinder. The crowd itself was variegated and motley: metalheads in Testament and Electric Wizard shirts, hardcore kids with pomaded hairdos, and a few punks with spiked hair. Even some guys and gals in non-music-related outfits made an appearance. All were presumably there for different reasons, to see different bands. Regardless, the bill could not have been put together better.
Photo by Jeremy Ledford
First up was local metallic hardcore act Holy Land. The band set up on the floor in front of the stage. This allowed the band members to interact with the crowd a face-to-face, with singer Parker Black and guitarist Tyler Wall bumping into audience members. All in good fun, of course. With barely any light shining on them, the band tore through a set of songs from their excellent EP Real, as well as several new songs from an upcoming full-length.
Photo by Scott Clift
Shortly after Holy Land capped their set, the semi-local (a few members moved to our fair city recently) Ramming Speed took the stage, showcasing their frenzied but very fun mix of thrash and grindcore. Vocalist Peter Gallagher managed to pepper in a few goofy anecdotes between blast and thrash assaults. One song introduction included a line that went something like “…and sometimes, you’re in Iceland, and you have to throw a pint at your friend’s head!”
Photo by Kathy Roman D’Ambrosio
Next up was some more local flavor, in the form of Iron Reagan. For those unfamiliar with the band, they play the old-school kind of crossover mentioned at the beginning of the article, and feature members of Richmond thrash stalwarts Municipal Waste, as well as Darkest Hour. Iron Reagan and Municipal Waste are local heroes, as evinced by the crowd’s circle-pitting enthusiasm during their set. The band played a set that appeared both effortless and impassioned, each member clearly a veteran of their craft. They incorporated plenty of new material, such as “Miserable Failure,” from their forthcoming LP The Tyranny of Will. The band seems to be conscious of both global politics and how heavy-handed punk lyrics about such things can be, as at one point, singer Tony Foresta began to talk about various conflicts occurring in different parts of the world, specifically Israel, before quickly cutting himself off by stating that the song about to be played would not be about any of those things.
Photo by Nukkka Photography
Two touring bands from Texas rounded off the bill. First was Mammoth Grinder, from Austin. The vocalist requested that the reverb on his mic be cranked, which, when combined with the somewhat simple, yet catchy and vicious music created by the trio, made his howl sound like it was echoing from a crypt. A short case advocating for how catchy the band can be: I had previously never listened to Mammoth Grinder, and yet cuts like “Paragon Pusher” remained memorable enough to cause me to buy and become addicted to their 2013 album, Underworlds, the next day.
Photo by Michael Vincent Tan
Power Trip followed with what was obviously the most anticipated set of the evening: the venue was beyond full, with audience members watching from the side of the stage to the end of the bar. The band played a set brimming with vitriol, and the crowd responded in turn, with wildly flailing hardcore dancing, and more than a few people ignoring the “NO STAGE DIVE” signs posted above the PA speakers on stage. Singer Riley Gale booted a woman who was taking a bit too long to dive into the crowd right off the stage, to uproarious applause. Luckily, despite the wild crowd, no serious fights broke out during the set, although one man walked away from the pit bleeding slightly from his head. The band rolled through a set full of the kind of speedy thrash and hardcore that they have been playing for over half a decade. At one point, they incorporated an older crowd favorite that was announced as having been played since the days of the warehouse, a hallowed bygone venue in Richmond’s hardcore community. Clearly, this was not the first time the band has played the city–and likely not the last, as the crowd was as appreciative as they were rabid.
Photo by Michael Vincent Tan
Immediately after Power Trip finished their last song, the greater majority of the crowd headed for the door, clearly eager to get out of the incredibly hot venue. The show as a whole was one of the most fun live music experiences I’ve had recently, and featured some surprises for me, as I had little experience with the material of both Mammoth Grinder and Power Trip before that night. Richmond’s music scene has birthed many metallic monsters throughout the years, and if Iron Reagan and Holy Land are any indication, it will continue to do so. Metal and hardcore have long been bedfellows, and as long as they keep on popping out love children like the ones on the bill of this show, Richmond’s inhabitants will continue to be wonderful step-parents.