all things old school: 1984: Punk Is Dead, Metal Up Your Ass!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

1984: Punk Is Dead, Metal Up Your Ass!


Age of Quarantine, day # 408 - (Heavy) Metal is for the 80's as Grunge is for the 90's, two Rock 'N' Roll sub-genres responsibles for undermine other rock-related youth movements, the Punks (1977-1983) and then Metal itself (both Thrash and Glam metal-heads) in the 90's. In this write-up we are going to revisit the first Punk bands that embarked on the newfound Metal trend and the subsequent development of CROSSOVER that followed, highlithing some obscure albums that succeded, not comercially but by withstanding the test of time.

The biggest example of a band crossing over sub-genres is probably the Boston pioneers in SSD, with the general decreasing interest in Punk by '83, they quickly adopted a new sound in the following year with the How We Rock LP but we know how it turned out for them, a big disrupt in their audience and an unappealing album. That was the case for many other groups but the outcome were certainly diverse.

Before the tides turned in '84, there were 2 groups that defied logic with their ultra-fast music back in 1982: VOID and DISCHARGE. With the release of their seminal albums that year, new standards were raised for both punks and metalheads.

Aware of the ongoing changes, many Punk & Hardcore bands around 1984-1985 either changed names or scrapped their initial material to encorporate METAL. Trailblazers in UK and US started to pop up, shaping the yet-to-be coined Crossover sound: ENGLISH DOGS - To The Ends Of The Earth (1984), SACRILEGE - Behind The Realms Of Madness (1985), CARNIVORE - Nuclear Warriors "Demo" (1984), CORROSION OF CONFORMITY - Animosity (1985), CRO-MAGS - Age Of Quarrel "Demo" (1985), YDI - Black Dust (1985) and S.O.D. - Speak English Or Die (1985).


By 1986 the underground rock scenes around the globe was already taken, mohawks and spikes were replaced by long hairs and camo pants, followed by an avalanche of Crossover productions, specially in NY with Combat Core's most notable releases: CRUMBSUCKERS - Life Of Dreams and AGNOSTIC FRONT - Cause For Alarm . Other highlights with big shifts in their sound for that year includes Seattle's THE ACCÜSED - The Return of... Martha Splatterhead, Houston's VERBAL ABUSE - Rocks Your Liver and Toronto's SUDDEN IMPACT - No Rest For The Wicked. Also, both groundbreaking CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER - Convicted and CONCRETE SOX - Your Turn Next that didn't switch their sounds per se but indeed were adding more Metal up in their punk veins, or asses.


From 1987 to 1991 things got real busy, a kid could get lost in a record store spending loads of cash to acquire a dozen Crossover releases and still wouldn't scratch the surface, in the shopping bag you would probably find one of these game-changer albums: EXCEL - Split Image (1987), D.R.I. - Crossover (1987), BROKEN BONES - F.O.A.D. (1987), AMEBIX - Monolith (1987), LEEWAY - Born To Expire (1988), SUICIDAL TENDENCIES - How Will I Laugh Tomorrow... (1988), R.D.P. - Brasil (1989), PRONG - Beg To Differ (1989), GANG GREEN - Older... Budweiser (1989), THE EXPLOITED - The Massacre (1990), HOGAN'S HEROES - S/T (1990) and BIOHAZARD - S/T (1990).

Now... looking for what got lost in the haystay during these years of Metal reign, bands with a decent amount of followers that, like SSD, are most known for their earlier punk work but have, at one point, released (usually just before breaking up) these ugly monsters that deserve a second spin, true Frankensteins of an era:

WASTED YOUTH - Black Daze (Medusa, 1988)
Starting by the cover, this and the following records have pieces of art that screams the 80's in the best way possible! From Punk to Thrashers, representing LA, Black Daze and its 8 tracks (including a Van Halen cover) are on constant spinning in my boombox for years already, recommended for fans of Welcome To Venice compilation.

LOST GENERATION - Midnight Meat Train (Anthrax, 1989)
This Connecticut group has a fairly rich output in punk productions, including collaborations with HR in '83. Further on they even flerted with goth in their great '88 album Censored but it was not until '89 that they took the higher risk by fully embracing Metal and delivering the thrashy beauty that is Midnight Meat Train, whose title was inspired by Clive Barker's story.

The album also includes a cover song by Merryweather's classic Kryptonite and featured two different artworks for USA and European markets, due to graphic content in the original one.

ENGLISH DOGS - Where Legend Began / Metalmorphosis (Combat, 1986)
The first time I saw something related to them was on my teenage days in a magazine featuring an early Sepultura band photo in which one of them was wearing a English Dogs t-shirt, that image stuck on my mind for eternity for some reason. Years later I came to know their music that evolved from Oi!-Hardcore to Metal Punk quite rapidly, making their '85 album Forward Into Battle their most notorious work but they've put other records out during their called Metal Years that are worth giving it a try.

The most obscure and underrated one (before going on their first hiatus) must be the Where Legend Began, this album resonates Metal all over, leaving little to no space for hardcore or punk in it, headbangin' alert! As a bonus the 3-song EP Metalmorphosis, released the same year, was also added here. Very fitting EP title by the way.

DR. KNOW - Wreckage In Flesh (Metal Blade, 1988)
Even Nardcore's mainstays wanted a piece of the pie, just before imploding and after many line-up changes they went out with style, just begin by the artwork, similar to stuff found on latin automotive workshop facades. Jokes apart Wreckage In Flesh is, in reality, my personal favorite album by them, I strongly recommend you to take a chance on this one!

The LP came with a cover sticker that said the following about this release "DR. KNOW CONQUERS IT ALL FROM BLUDGEONING YOUR SENSES WITH POWER, TO THRASHING IT WITH SPEED... ON THEIR NEW VOYAGE DR. KNOW TAKES YOU ON A TRIP THROUGH THE STONNED SIDE OF REALITY. IMAGINE A WORLD WITH THIRD DEGREE BURNS, IMAGINE WRECKAGE IN FLESH! FEATURES A BRUTAL VERSION OF INTO THE VOID." Convincing huh?! ...and yeah they covered Black Sabbath.

DISCHARGE - The Price Of Silence 12" (Vap, 1984)
This guys needs no introduction, or shouldn't need, the originators of D-beat, changed the course of extreme music for good. The influence they exerted on Metal eventually came back around on their own music, this "reversed" influence can already by heard in their '83 EP Warning: Her Majesty's Government boosted by line-up changes on guitar duties (which later resulted in the creation of Broken Bones). The rare Japanese-only album The Price Of Silence compiles the EP with the same name plus the Warning EP and more.

In '85 they dropped another EP called Ignorance that clearly shows them going furhter in a (tragic) sonic collision with Heavy Metal/Hard Rock. By '86, with the release of their second full-length Grave New World, they already sounded something entirely different (0% D-beat, 100% Glam), turned out to be a huge disaster. Passed that and with a new formation in '91 they presented something way more decent in Massacre Divine, but the damage was done.

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT - Out Of Hand (In Your Face, 1991)
San Francisco thrashers, best known for their first full-length American Paranoia out on Pushead's label was and still is recognized as a major staple in the HC community but their follow-up album Out Of Hand is rarely brought to mention, out on Heresy's bass player label. Influenced by everything that was happening at the time they stepped up the metal intake without damaging their style.

WARZONE - S/T "Demos" (Caroline, 1989)
Before wrapping up, this album shouldn't go unmentioned, another drastic change in the wrong direction, NYHC legends S/T LP reunited the worst of both worlds, which later was even disregarded by Raybeez himself. Then why is it here? Well, the demo sessions for this album leaked sometime ago, a less metallic version with some different (and better) songs that didn't make to the final cut.

Other hardcore legends that put out something almost as weird but in the long run I learned to enjoy them were CRO-MAGS' rapmetal album Alpha Omega from '92 and UNIFORM CHOICE's The Cult worship in Staring Into The Sun from '88, nothing but shaved long hairs and cowboy hats.

CREDITS: DTS-Metal.com, METALLIpromo.com, PUSHEAD and SEAN TAGGART for doing amazing artwork for nearly half of these bands.

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