It’s rare that heavy metal bands address politics or social commentary in a manner that’s not ham-fisted. Grindcore and thrash bands are generally the worst offenders, but it’s understandable since it’s nigh impossible to make a nuanced point about something as complex as America’s political landscape in two to four minutes. Another stumbling block for socially conscious bands is their tendency toward dour self-righteousness – take a moment to read anything Dave Mustaine has ever said about politics if you want examples. Crossover thrash supergroup Iron Reagan sidestep both of these pitfalls by stripping away the sanctimoniousness of socially conscious extreme music and replacing it with vaguely political anger that almost any malcontent can identify with, regardless of their particular beef with The Man.
The band’s lyricist and singer, Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste, is obviously trying to use Iron Reagan as an outlet for darker subject matter, but the tone of the lyrics never veers into nihilism. Instead, many of the songs on Tyranny of Will convey the sneering cynicism and naivete of punk rock. In Iron Reagan land, pretty much everything including politics (Tyranny of Will”), consumerism (“Bleeding Frenszy”), video games (“Exit the Game”), and voting (“Patriotic Shock”) sucks. Not that Foresta’s wrong, but the points he’s making are so reductive that they almost aren’t worth a second thought. No one is interested in this album for the band’s refined views of 21st century American culture, though, so the broadly political subject matter isn’t much of an issue.
Listeners who could care less about any amount of social commentary will be happy to know Tyranny of Will also songs that deal with more traditional heavy metal subject matter. “Eyeball Gore” sounds like an ode to the films of Lucio Fulchi and “Rat Shit” is about being eaten by rats. There are some tracks about being a screw up as well. WhileIron Reagan never take themselves too seriously, every sog sounds tight and well written.
Musically, Iron Reagan has a lot in common with Municipal Waste, which makes sense since Phil Hall handles guitar duties in both bands. The major stylistic differences are the increased tempos and decreased run time of each song on the album. Tyranny of Will also sounds much more punk rock than anything Municipal Waste has recorded. There’s still an unmistakable thrash element, but this album is much closer to Cro-Magsthan Anthrax. Despite the presence of former Darkest Hour guitarist Mark Bronzino, this album still sounds like the Tony and Phil show. That’s not a bad thing considering the pair have proven they’re capable of writing album after album of memorable thrash, but if you’re looking for any DH influence, you’re going to be disappointed.
Tyranny of Will is a good album. It’s well produced and full of catchy songs, but it also becomes tedious near the halfway point despite a brief 30 minute run time. Fans of this style of music aren’t going to be disappointed if they spend the money on this album, but it barely stands out from the pack. It’s still an improvement over their debut, though, so hopefully the band will continue to mature and develop their sound. Tyranny of Will isavailable to buy right now in a variety of formats.