Excel Split Image

Play a few skate parks in your time, ride a few decks, scrape a few knees, hail from Venice Beach, sport funky shows and everyone refers to you as a "skate punk" band. It is, and always will be, so very limiting, especially in the case of this band, one of the most underrated and un-famous bands of the mid-'80s. Excel were one of the first bands to openly say, "We like metal. We like punk. You got a problem with that?" and I loved them for their ambassadorial role between the two genres, which at the time were mortal enemies. Back in '85 - and even before that with their Sonic Decapitation, Personal Onslaught and Refuse To Quit demos, also included here - Excel, and their debut album, Split Image, was heralded as a new step forward in heavy music for the seamless way the band bridged punk stuff (shout-y vocals and twisting melodies) with metal stuff (the chug, solos and some pretty crazy song structures). It may sound rudimentary by today's standards, especially with the technical insanity and musical stupidity that connects hardcore and metal today, but it's always fun to listen to the early components of one's record collection and/or trace the history and influence of what makes up much of one's current collection. (Rotten)