The history of the Cro-Mags is integral to the history of Hardcore, its evolution from punk and the development of alternative music genres such as hardcore, cross-over, thrash metal, post punk and grunge to name a few. Numerous iconic bands from Metallica to Green Day and individuals such as Dave Grohl have credited Cro-Mags with having had a primal influence on their development.
Born out of the violence and depravity of the Lower East Side of New York in the late 70s and early 80s, the Cro-Mags was the brainchild of a very young Harley Flanagan (at the time 14 years old) when still playing with the Stimulators. By 1982/83 he wrote and recorded the very first Cro-Mags demos consisting of 4 songs that would become the blueprint for the seminal 1986 “Age of Quarrel.” He wrote all of the music, played each instrument, and sang. Before long he connected with Parris Mayhew and the two started writing music and auditioning band members.
After several line-ups, 5 studio albums (beyond the original demos) and 30 + years of tours around the world, Cro-Mags remains one of the most iconic hardcore bands with arguably the greatest reach beyond the genre.
Now, on June 19th 2020 ‘In the Beginning’ will be released. The songs draw on the past and break new ground musically; the lyrics as always, are based on personal experiences, mixed with advice and reality-based themes and topics ranging from personal struggles, striving to succeed against the odds and issues that we are all challenged with in one way, shape or form.
Still with plenty of snarl and bite, Cro-Mags are very much turning back the years for a fiery blast of punk-infused hardcore noise. Some tracks with a bit more meat to the bones, others short and violent bursts.
It’s a bit of both that kicks things off. Don’t Give In beginning with some slower guitar groove before kicking it up a notch and Drag You Under continuing that fast pace. With a hell of a lot more growl No One’s Victim and From the Grave then arrive, spitting out the riffs and licks with ease.
So far, so very Cro-Mags. Albeit a clearly re-energised beast as the flames continue to burn hotly throughout the mean sounding No One’s Coming and throughout PTSD and The Final Test. Heavy and aggressive music but not to the point of being unlistenable.
It’s a couple of sharp ones with One Bad Decision, Tow Hours and Don’t Talk About It. The combined length of this trio coming in less than 7 minutes.
Off-setting that then is the longest track on the album, Between Wars. An instrumental head-banger that showcases a hell of a lot of detail in Cro-Mags playing. All before they cap off a great 2020 release with No Turning Back and There Was A Time. Proving their relevancy and undying importance to the genre still.
Cro-Mags – In the Beginning Full Track Listing:
1. Don’t Give In
2. Drag You Under
3. No One’s Victim
4. From the Grave
5. No One’s Coming
7. The Final Test
8. One Bad Decision
9. Two Hours
10. Don’t Talk About It
11. Between Wars
12. No Turning Back
13. There Was A Time
Cro-Mags - In The Beginning (Arising Empire)
The Final Score - 8/10