EXCEL: Split Image: CD

Once upon a time, kids, way back in the mid-1980s, there was this evil scourge known as metal punk, which was actually not all that different in its infestation than ska and poop (err, pop) punk are today. Like ska, there was nothing truly evil about metal punk as an entity, but the influx of copycats pretty much ran it into the ground four months after it reared its ugly head. See, back then a bunch of punk rockers found that growing your hair out and infusing “thrash” (once the preferred term for speedy hardcore) with “chugga-chugga” metal riffs and long, wanky guitar solos could be considerably more profitable than playing “Dollar Night” at the Cathay every week. Well, to make a long story longer, many of the bands that opted for this style became household names: Suicidal Tendencies, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front (hell, virtually all of the state of New York). Even “proper” metal bands hopped onto the cash cow and milked it for all they could: Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, Overkill, Anthrax et al. Most, however, who followed this particular trend to the bitter end wound up basically back in the same place where they began and ended up following the next trend, and the next, and so on. Which brings us to Excel. Originally called Chaotic Noise, Excel were often lumped in with the whole “Suicidal” head trip, which was something they always claimed not to be a part of, if memory serves. As a speed metal band, they weren’t all that bad, as this re-release of their album (plus assorted demos and comp tracks) illustrates, and the fact that they maintained their ties to punk rock even as their hair follicles became more active was also a definite plus. On the crossover “food chain,” they were probably somewhere in the middle at their peak, not quite DRI, yet they probably rarely hurt for a gig. While I was never really a fan of Excel, I didn’t hate ’em, either, and at one time I considered their drummer Greg a friend of mine. Listening to this disc brought back fond memories of the Suicidals and the skins trying to kill each other at the Balboa Theatre, cholos with shotguns gunning for punkers at Hoover Park, playing at a straight edge fest (featuring a bill that that all the X-handed morons who pay outrageous amounts of money for “crew” singles would cream over) at that same park fucked up outta my gourd on booze and coke, and assorted other drunken nights with my friend Stephanie and her then-boyfriend Matt. Jeez, where do the wild days of misspent youth go?

 –jimmy (www.rottenrecords.com)