Cryptic Slaughter

Money Talks

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Alongside other pioneering crossover acts like New York's S.O.D., Texas' D.R.I., and fellow Californians Suicidal Tendencies, Santa Monica's Cryptic Slaughter was influenced in equal parts by the lessons of political punk rock and no-holds-barred thrash metal. On its 1986 debut, Convicted, the quartet had opened a significant door, pushing hardcore into realms of sheer speed and furious hatred it had only flirted with in the past. So how in hell were they supposed to top this unbelievably crude but crucial document? Well, longtime fans will always bicker over favorites, but there seems to exist a split decision between that landmark first effort and its worthy successor, 1987's Money Talks. Defenders of the latter will probably tell you that Money Talks, with its cleaner production, more piercing lyrics, and varied tempos, struck the perfect balance between Convicted's innocent primitivism and the excessive refinement of third opus Stream of Consciousness. But the truth is that these differences seem both minimal and trivial after all these years; let's drop the subject and let the music do the talking. On Money Talks, Cryptic Slaughter's self-mandated crusade against the system begins with the album's Reagan-bashing cover artwork. From there on out, standout tracks like the title track, "Wake Up," "Freedom of Expression?," and "All Wrong" pack just as much power and intensity, if not outright insanity, as earlier Cryptic Slaughter favorites. One department they'd definitely improved in was Bill Crooks' lyrics, which proved even more intelligent and incisive this time around without sacrificing any of the brute conviction in his delivery. Simply put, with its tightly wound construction highlighting the nervous tension between punk and metal at euphoric new levels, Money Talks remains a peerless example of '80s hardcore. [Relapse Records' 2003 CD reissue treats collectors to nine deliciously raw bonus tracks, some drawn from rehearsal material later featured in their next album and some culled from two separate live performances, including the original lineup's last stand in Detroit.]

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