If you thought more contemporary thrash resurgence albums were already short enough to be considered glorified EPs, just take a look at the duration of the latest offering from Exhumed (goregrind) and Iron Reagan (crossover thrash). This 12-inch split is “limited” to only 1500 copies, but if they can actually sell that many copies of a 12-minute release, I will buy them each a soda. Yet I wouldn’t be a true fan if I didn’t suggest that you pick up this decent split if you can; how productive were you going to be with those 12 minutes anyway?
Exhumed follows their amazing Necrocracy (my second favorite album of 2013) with a solid handful of songs. Where Necrocracy was a step up in sophistication, this split has the gore-stars slashing with straightforward thrash, and even hardcore, crayons while still maintaining their style. I think this is admirable because Necrocracy was already a stylistic change in music and theme, and Exhumed pulled it off flawlessly. With these songs they prove that they are not a one-blast-beat band, but can keep things interesting. Leader Matt Harvey does the vast majority of the screaming and guitarist Bud Burke takes more of a back-up position, which makes sense with the chaotic nature of the entire split; Harvey’s vocals take on the characteristic of someone screaming for mercy. “Gravewalker” opens the album with a fantastic groove and is probably the best track on the entire release. It may be worth saying that Exhumed take up more real estate on the split than Iron Reagan; then again, the difference is only a minute or so. They close with a reimagining of Madball’s “Ready to Fight;” and while the major difference is the addition of blast beats and layered growling, it is still enough to make the song feel unique.
Iron Reagan are a project consisting of members of Darkest Hour and Municipal Waste, and sound close enough to the latter that you might not be able to tell the difference. Though they present themselves with a tongue-in-cheek demeanor of SOD and Waste itself, their lyrics stay in the crossover realm. I was eager to find the lyrics to “Holy Water Makes Me Wet,” for example, only generic punk you poetry. “Gave Up On Giving A Fuck” can’t articulate this aspect of the band more clearly. As much as I think it would be cool to say that Iron Reagan reek of death (metal) to meet Exhumed’s altered style, they stick to their crossover claims even more than on their previous release. If there is any departure, it is “Mini Lights,” which has an old school Bay Area feel in the vein of Death Angel.
I would say that there’s no reason not to give this at least a chance. Anyway, who puts out splits anymore other than for the nostalgia factor? With digital media, there’s no real point. Immerse yourself about the days of tape trading and pure energetic, passionate musicians. Overall this split won’t change your life like some of those albums did, but it won’t hurt it.
(Online January 10, 2014)