Pure Powerviolence: Crossed Out
It’s no secret to readers of this blog that I love hardcore punk. Naturally, this means I am fond of many of its offshoots as well. One of these is powerviolence. For those of you not familiar with the genre, powerviolence is is a style of hardcore punk that tends to be much more visceral, sharing a number of similarities with the grindcore genre. Powerviolence bands typically produced songs that were very brief and chaotic. It was not uncommon for these bands to incorporate elements of crust and sludge as well.
Now that the genre distinction lesson is over, I can dig into the meat of this post. This post is obviously about Crossed Out, one of the all-time great powerviolence acts. Crossed Out came to be in California back in 1990. Although they were only together for three years, they managed to leave a lasting impression on the world of punk music– influencing later bands like The Locust and Agoraphobic Nosebleed with their confrontational, dissonant sound.
Although a fair amount of Crossed Out’s sound draws from 80s hardcore legends like Infest and Deep Wound, the band managed not to simply carve out a niche for themselves– they took a fucking bulldozer to it. The signature element of Crossed Out’s sound was their extremely heavy low-end. By punctuating their frantic passages with tons of thudding basslines, Crossed Out gave themselves an extremely vicious punch that really made them stand out among other genre stalwarts like Man is the Bastard and No Comment.
To say Crossed Out was an aggressive band is an understatement. Throughout their all-too-brief career, they expressed utter distaste for society across a handful of 7″ EPs and splits. “Crown of Thorns” comes sprinting out of a dark alley like a knife-wielding cannibal crack addict, stabbing his victim to death and ripping the flesh off bone using only his teeth. Songs like “Heman” started off with a flurry of riffing, snare hits and barking vocals but would freqeuntly drop into more groove-oriented bass-heavy portions that will make the average listener want to run through a brick wall. On “Scapegoat” and “Suffocate” Crossed Out drops the tempo through the floor, banging on their instruments like a wrecking ball blowing through concrete and rebar.
Crossed Out wasn’t around for long but they have left an indelible mark on the face of hardcore punk music. That indelible mark being a caved-in skull due to blunt force head trauma. There are few bands in the history of music who can lay claim to being as pissed off, as violent, and as downright hateful as Crossed Out were. They helped draft a blueprint for not just many of today’s grind bands, but for extreme bands in general. Crossed Out– accept no fucking frauds.