There are few things I’d avoid more seriously than a ‘fun’ heavy metal record but there is no sense in denying the importance of 80’s crossover thrash in the making of my own metal fandom, a progression I’ve gone deep enough with across years of rambling. Between ‘Dealing With It’, ‘Join the Army’ and ‘Convicted’ the rousing hip-thrust of thrash metal across the United States in the early 80’s birthed many a grand phenom but few as physically inspirational, and inherently accessible as that of the crossover from hardcore punk towards thrash metal. Sure, on a worldwide scale half of those bands were shit Agnostic Front clones going metal or straight up nutless xeroxed chuggers but there were spotty gems in every corner all the same. By the time 1990 rolled around it was a niche upheld by die-hards largely within secular hardcore communities and by 2000 most of the greats had been long silent pillars. I don’t want to give Municipal Waste all of the credit for their revival of D.R.I.‘s memory but a very real wave followed their lead across the edge of the millennium that would cohabitate with a similar thrash revival similarly attributable to the popularity of Toxic Holocaust. This was not only a reluctant changing of the guard but a new form of bigger, meaner, faster, and way more drunk style of party thrash that made oldies like Ludichrist and Tankard look like a polka troupe.
I wasn’t on board with it at first. It wasn’t until groups like Broken Bones, Lethal Aggression, Cryptic Slaughter (now Lowlife) and Excel began to receive their dues through resurrection, reissue, and remaster that it felt like more than a retrofied fad cash-in but a visible and persistent new take on old style with respect for the past. I’m really not giving a history less here but rather pointing towards this currently fading decade in music as completely inert in terms of crossover thrash classics. Yes, there are total rippers like Municipal Waste-adjacent Iron Reagan and surprising upstarts like Take Offense, Primal Rite, and Expander thrive under the truly heavy reign of Power Trip but fuck if any other band I could namedrop just kinda sputters out old riffs and tired goofs. Sure, I’m a serious-faced tired asshole anymore but the 80’s hardcore kid within won’t fight back when something great punches me in the ear. What makes Austrian crossover thrashers Insanity Alert special, then? Well, nothing.
That isn’t a slam on the band though, they just straight up keep the faith and have fun doing it. That is the point and it ain’t deep. Their tongue-in-cheek ragged, screaming hardcore and rudimentary thrash riffing is exemplar if not entirely too familiar for the sake of the craft. Shit, I love ‘genre’ entries as much as the next guy and a tasteful resemblance of a great work is nothing to shrug at in my book. Where I hit a wall with Insanity Alert‘s third album comes with my own general anhedonist view of nostalgia as of late. If I sound torn between two perspectives in sorting through my thoughts on crossover revivalists no doubt I’ve communicated the mixed feelings I have for ‘666 Pack’ well enough. On a base level this is a fun and fast hardcore record that feels as much like an opening band for Classen era of Holy Moses as it does a too-close variation of what legacy Municipal Waste sports today. A slightly watery light beer on a cold day, if you will.
In fighting two levels (and well over two decades) of weighted nostalgia I both love and detest Insanity Alert‘s third album. The intermittent jocular parodies become a tiring headache yet, if I skin back my face and let my skull breathe a bit ‘666 Pack’ reveals itself as spirited worship, good natured fun, and good ole’ defiant intelligence readily available for anyone wanting to take a closer look at their spirited goofiness (see: “The Body of Christ is the Parasite”). The test of any hardcore punk record for my own taste finds me considering what I’d get if the vocals were wiped and the instrumentals left barenaked, this is where Insanity Alert sort of fail to suck me in. I’ll sound like an elitist prick for saying it but I think 80’s hardcore punk influenced crossover is way more rhythmically viable on repeat listens than ‘crossover influenced crossover’. I gave this record about fifteen spins across the space of two months and I never looked back over my shoulder at their swingin’ tang outside of the second track. Moderate recommendation. For preview the trio of “Thristkiller”, “The Body of Christ is the Parasite”, and “All Mosh/No Brain” will likely be an easy sell for the crossover die-hard but I’d suggest the full listen to get an idea of the goofy swan dive the record takes in its second half.
Glorious straight-jacketed hell. 3.25/5.0
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