5 Underrated ‘80s Crossover Thrash Records, by Mikey “J.C.” Lawless (Übergang)

Photo: Demons Run Amok

Formed in 2014, Übergang is a German crossover thrash band just released their debut album, Zeichen Der Zeit. Delivering their lyrics in German, the group's sound is rooted in the late '80s, with bands like D.R.I. and Vio-lence providing proper inspiration.

Since the band is clearly knowledgeable about the topic, I asked Übergang guitarist Mikey “J.C.” Lawless for his picks for some of the most underrated crossover thrash bands from the '80s.

Nuclear Assault, Game Over (Combat Records, 1986)

Rude, fast, loud, and crazy; this is what makes Nuclear Assault's debut so very special. From the beginning on, pure energy is spread through the boxes. From the instrumental opener, “Live, Suffer, Die,” over “Hang The Pope” (only 46 seconds long), to “Brain Death," that is with is over seven minutes the longest Nuclear Assault song so far, you get crossover thrash as its best! I think everything matches perfect here: The raw and chaotic guitarsound, the low and straight bass and the monster drumming combined with weird and high-pitched vocals. Nuclear Assault is and will always be one of my all-time favorites. Besides the musical aspect, I like their lyrics about social problems, nuclear fear, and against war. I also recommend their records Survive and Handle With Care as well. 

Testament, The New Order (Megaforce Records, 1988)

Testament released some of the greatest thrash stuff in the '80s. Their second album, The New Order, is often overlooked between their debut (The Legacy) and Practice What You Preach. But on this one, there is everything a thrash record needs: A young band full of power, great songs with some HC-gang shouts, razor-sharp riffs, and high-speed solos are blueprints for Bay Area thrash. The guitar work of Alex Skolnick inspired me very much. He was and is open-minded to non-metal guitar music and put all this in a perfect shape for his style of playing. His solos and playing are over the top! I saw him with his Jazz Trio, and that was phenomenal and highly inspiring. This is crossover in another way, if you ask me. 

Beowülf, Lost My Head... But I'm Back on the Right Track (Caroline Records, 1988)

Beowülf from Venice, California is another cool crossover band. You can hear some parallels to early Suicidal Tendencies, which is also one of my favorite bands. Lost My Head... has some melodic and fast songs and cool rhythm guitar parts. You can listen the record from beginning to end without getting bored. Like ST, they have a special sound and are a good example for crossover thrash, even though they never were that big. 

Gang Green, Older… Budweiser (Roadrunner Records, 1989)

This is an excellent party record. Like on Gang Green's previous albums, they sing mostly about drinking, partying, skating, and raising hell. You can hear all that in the voice of Chris Doherty. This record is full of fast songs with catchy lyrics and melodies. They combine speed metal rhythms with bluesy guitar solos and double-bass drumming to a remarkable sound and cool songs. And there's even a ballad on it, simply called “Ballad” [laughs]. They don't take themselves too seriously, which I like as well. They do what they wanna do and have a lot of fun. 

Rumble Militia, Fuck Off Commercial (ATOM H Records, 1987)

This is a highly underrated crossover band. Rumble Miltiia sadly never got that big as they deserve, but they released some cool stuff. Besides the music, they always had a message and fought against racism, fascism, and commercialisation. Songs like “Full of Danger” or “Full of Commercial” are middle fingers in the face of the music business. And “No Nazis” from their second album, They Give You the Blessing, is unfortunately still an up to date topic… Cliff (vocals, Übergang) and I saw them in October 2014 on one of their rare shows in their hometown Bremen, Germany and they still kick ass! 

Some more favorites:
D.R.I., Four of a Kind (Metal Blade Records, 1988)
Cro-Mags, Best Wishes (Profile Records, 1989)
Suicidal Tendencies, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow... When I Can't Even Smile Today (Epic Records, 1988)
Exodus, Fabulous Desaster (Combat Records, 1988)
Overkill, Years of Decay (Atlantic Records, 1989)
Excel, The Joke's on You (Caroline Records, 1989)
Vio-lence, Eternal Nightmare (Mechanic Records, 1988)
M.O.D., Gross Misconduct (Megaforce Records, 1989)
Crumbsuckers, Beast on My Back (Combat Records, 1988)

Tagged: ubergang