Extinction A.D. produced the finest thrash album of 2022 so far, and their 2021 EP was just as stunning. The quartet’s muscular metallic fury and hardcore spirit single them out as a standout band on Unique Records, which is more famous for the slam/brutal death metal genre than politicised thrash. One listen to their music tells you that Long Island, New York has never sounded so triggered by the vitriolic rhetoric of a country that seems incapable of compromise or of ending its vicious culture wars.
Band leader, Rick Jimenez, wears his influences on his sleeveless arms with pride. Underneath the biceps and bandana is a man with a biting wit and a burning passion for music. These are the seven biggest influences on his musical career.
You wanna talk about a band that delivers crushing power every single note of every single song of every single album? Yeah, we all know, smart guy; “Pantera used to be a glam band!” Well, once they found their definitive direction on Cowboys from Hell, they were not just a juggernaut but a band that got heavier and more extreme with each release. Others may argue that they’re just a link in the chain of heaviness, but all of our definitions are different, and by mine, they are the heaviest of all. There were many bands I got into before Pantera, but by the time I discovered them, their power never wavered. The ultimate in aggression that I still channel today in that “don’t fuck with me” way. I really like to think we add quite a bit more of an intelligent message than they did (which I’ll get to soon), but that up-front confrontational stance along with the chunkiest music across five albums always rears its head in our camp. Overall band favourite is Far Beyond Driven. Try to tell Tom and I not to lift 1000lbs on a chest day when that album’s on – I dare you.
6. Public Enemy
My first favourite rap group and my initial exposure to music with a message. Growing up on MTV and radio in the 80s, it took a while to figure out that music was about more than a fun riff and recounting a wild party. At eight years old, PE was instrumental in my understanding and acknowledging that there were reasons why people were being treated differently, and there were ways to learn about the world outside of the boring “stay tuned for the news at 10” after the Yankee game. PE also opened my eyes to hip hop outside of Run DMC and the Fat Boys and eventually to who became my favourite rap group, NWA. My first band ever was a rap group, so whether or not it’s clear to anyone else, the hip hop flow is an undeniable influence on my vocal patterns. That Chuck D message stays with me today. Don’t make me choose between It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet because I won’t do it. I also gave up break dancing in 1992.
5. Alan Moore
I don’t think Alan Moore is my favourite author or even my favourite comic book writer, but he’s absolutely my biggest influence when it comes to that particular sect of my life as far as crossing over into Extinction A.D. I’m a huge Star Trek nerd and love the idealistic future that humanity should strive towards, but Alan Moore is the vehicle driving in the opposite direction, showing the dark path we constantly take. Not just his outlook and “take heed of this artistic warning” offering, but his characterisation and turn of phrase. We’ve all read Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, but Moore is what opened that door for me, despite the chronology of said pieces. Moore’s V For Vendetta and Watchmen are such utter masterpieces and sociological mind fucks.
Remember when you were fourteen and looking for the most evil, fastest, heaviest, gnarliest shit to listen to that you could find when everyone thought you were a crazy, long haired, Puerto Rican, angry, anti-social freak that would hopefully grow out of a phase? Yeah, that never happened. I’m forty-two, and the only thing that has changed is the length of my hair. Slayer was that evil shit I found, and Slayer is a band that I will still go to war for. No band on earth has as consistent of a discography in my eyes. And this is my list, so there’s no arguing. Musically, Slayer is probably the first band people hear when they listen to us for the first time, especially in our earlier albums, and I’m fine as hell with that. Another band fits that category as well that we’ll get to later, but come on… That mix of speed and minor chord progressions and double picking and breakneck guitar solos and fifth harmonies and absolute thrash insanity… that’s Slayer obvious influence on us and, no, I will never hide that. Why would I? My opinion – Kings of thrash. We’re all over the board in XAD as far as our favourite Slayer album, but mine is Seasons in the Abyss.
3. Ric Flair
I know this is a fucking ridiculous addition to this list, but bear with me. I’m a huge wrestling fan and believe that it is the greatest form of storytelling there is (when done properly). That being said, aside from Flair being tied for my favourite wrestler of all time (Ultimate Warrior being the other), the motivation of the man behind the character is what’s influential to me in conjunction with his performances. I tread lightly here because, much like some of the other bands I’ve listed above, this choice carries bits of problematic behaviours with it that I don’t mean to gloss over but tend to focus on the positives I’ve taken from them while I was in my formative years before you knew about the ins and outs of some of these people. Ric Flair to me is the epitome of “find what you love and put your all and more into it every waking second of your life no matter what”. Not making enough money? Suck it up because you’re doing what you know fulfils you. Have to eat shit along the road to your destination? Suck it up because you’re doing what you know fulfils you. You’re tired, worn out and your body is falling apart? Suck it up because you’re doing what you know fulfils you. You’re sacrificing family and relationships to attain your goal and create? Suck it up because you’re doing what you know fulfils you. You’re technically way too old for this shit, but you have a burning passion for something? Suck it up because you’re doing what you know fulfils you. This could also be summed up as “you’re a delusional man-child that never wants to grow up” and guess what? I’m ok with that too. I’ll never retire!
2. Minor Threat
Goddammit, I still remember the exact moment I first heard Minor Threat and knowing my life was changing while I was riding my BMX home from the record store with the first EP blasting in my shitty $10 walkman headphones. It wasn’t metal, but it was just as heavy and somehow faster. It wasn’t exactly punk, but it had even more attitude. Little did I know that this was my introduction to hardcore without initially thinking it was just metal or punk. DC hardcore and essentially all of the first wave of American hardcore is my favourite time frame of music ever, and it started here for me. Finding out when I got home and could read the lyrics from the cassette insert, that these dudes were straight edge?! I was already straight edge and didn’t even know what the fuck straight edge was. I know the go-to for the snobby punk kids at the time was to tell the metal heads that all the lyrics were “dungeons and dragons and satan shit”, and I never bought into that. The go-to for the close-minded metal heads of the time was to tell the punks that they “suck at their instruments and were all about the fashion!”, and that was bullshit too. I was stuck between these two worlds, but aside from just musically, Minor Threat opened the flood gates of “be yourself, be unapologetic, make your own way” for me. That’s something that has not just been ever present in XAD, but something that was a life changer for me overall. What more could be said about Minor Threat? In all actuality, I initially had MT at number four on this list but realised they have to be number two. The entire discography is perfect, but that blue cassette with the first two EPs on it that I got from None of the Above Records in 1996 is a prized possession of mine, and I’d slit someone’s throat if they tried to take it from me.
My favourite thing about not just music, but sound as we know it, is the entirety of …And Justice for All. Guess what? The black album is a favourite too, and with their mainstream success, it solidified that I wanted to play music for my entire life. Catching the ‘One’ video on Headbangers Ball and “inadvertently” hiding my sister’s boyfriend’s …And Justice for All cassette, of which I somehow wound up with until this day was awesome. But then seeing several videos on heavy rotation on MTV? And songs on the radio? And a double VHS documentary about the making of an album and a tour? And a box set with videos tapes and CDs of these insane concerts? These things changed the band from just another cool band to an entity that I was consumed with. Metallica is the other band that is a musical influence that we wear on our sleeve, and it’s one of the only times I wanna wear any sleeves, so that shows how much I love them. They indelibly shaped the way I hear and write music. Not just metal but music overall. One of my biggest obsessions on par with wrestling, bicep curls and Marvel. I have shelves of Metallica toys in my office and again, yes, I am forty-two years old. Another influence is the way they take things as far as they can go, and I love the lack of boundaries the band has always had. I didn’t question it in 91 and 92 how big the band got because I had grown up listening to metal and rock bands, but looking back now, its fucking bonkers how huge Metallica got while being a metal band. I have no delusions of being the next Metallica by any means, but they’re a never ending well of influence and source of fun and enjoyment for me. I can always go back to a Metallica record and find something new to cling onto. I don’t have a Metallica tattoo though, which I think is bullshit.
*** Extinction A.D. released Culture of Violence via Unique Leader Records on 18 March 2022. You can read our original review here.