Although short-lived and relatively obscure (on this side of the pond, at least), Electro Hippies were an important stepping stone between the British crust/vegan/anarchopunk scene of the mid 80's and the major-label/Earache/death metal scene that emerged there in the mid 90's. Sporting a definite "crust" aesthetic, the Hippies played fast, short, fuzzed-out punk songs that are best described as "proto-grind". Yes, their subject matter (social issues, vegetarianism, war), general sloppiness, and Peni-esque guitar tone definitely land them on the "punk" side of the fence, but they also had a certain speed, vitriol, and anger that bordered on "metal".
And another thing re: "metal cred" - Electro Hippies contained among their ranks one Jeff Walker, who you guys probably remember from that one band Carcass. Did anyone else see Carcass on their reunion tour last year? Were you confused by that spoken-word Crass thing that they opened their set with? Is this all starting to make sense?
A vague interpretation of where the Electro Hippies are coming from can be derived from the following equation:
("CARCASS") - ("A + C") = ("CRASS"). OK.