Cryptic Slaughter – “Money Talks”


The making of Cryptic Slaughter’s “Money Talks”

released: 1987

label: Death


The word “metalcore” is so ingrained in modern extreme music, it seems unimaginable that there was a time when metal and hardcore were completely separate worlds. Uniform Choice people were not Megadeth people, and vice versa. The few bands that appealed to both played to a volatile mix of punks, skinheads and metal dudes whose coexistence was marked by mistrust, tension, and occasionally, violent clashes. Eventually, some wise (Dirty, Rotten) Imbeciles pointed out the obvious: “We are the future, so let’s get things straight/ Combine our forces before it’s too late/ Fighting ourselves can’t go on any longer/ We must fight together if we want to grow stronger.”

It only made sense that the thrashers and the punkers would eventually make peace with each other. Both had to rely on the support of underground tape traders and DIY touring, since the majors wanted nothing to do with either of them. To televangelists and the promoters of an actual rock-deprogramming center with the cheerfully ominous name Back in Control, both were red flags that America’s youth were going to commit suicide shortly after shooting up, getting pregnant, and sacrificing their parents to Satan. Some senators’ wives looked like they were trying to turn that hysteria into what sounded a lot like government-sanctioned censorship. Also, the US and Russia were maybe going to blow up the world. So it turned out that haircuts and straight-edge weren’t such big deals after all.

In 1987, four kids from Santa Monica, CA put forth the most unified front in the us vs. them of the increasingly conservative Reagan era: Cryptic Slaughter’s second LP, Money Talks. On the cover, a cartoon Ronnie and Nancy, with cash blowing in the wind and the specter of nuclear holocaust in the air, dwarfed a collage of real people. The band photos confirmed that punks and longhairs had banded together to rail against consumerism, rampant military spending and the threat of annihilation. And it was really fucking fast, but with a few more mosh-worthy breaks than their debut, Convicted. Everyone could get behind Cryptic Slaughter. And while they never toured beyond the West Coast, their records would make their way into the hands of UK tape traders who were looking for something more extreme than their local punk bands, and who then started bands like Napalm Death. (Napalm covered Cryptic’s “Low Life” on Leaders Not Followers: Part 2). Most importantly, Money Talks still kills 20 years later. Decibel spoke to all four members of Cryptic Slaughter—vocalist Bill Crooks, guitarist Les Evans, bassist Rob Nicholson, and drummer Scott Peterson—about the album that made the union of metal and hardcore punk official.

—Anthony Bartkewicz

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