EP Review: Cro-Mags – 2020 (Arising Empire)

The legendary Cro-Mags return with a brand EP entitled ‘2020’. Out on the 11th December 2020 via Arising Empire. The record itself is unintentionally 20 minutes and 20 seconds, and plays as a time-capsule look into the burning dumpster fire of this year.

Cro-Mags founder Harley Flanagan explains:

Just by coincidence we recorded 20 minutes and 16 seconds of music, so we simply added a few seconds of real-world chaos. The album cover is meant to look like a calendar – seven squares across, with one picture from 2020 per day. Inside the booklet there are 12 pictures, one for each month of 2020; and the back is a shot of something I have never seen before in my life – a totally empty New York City. Coronavirus, quarantine, empty streets, brutality, burning buildings, violence and destruction: 2020 is a year none of us will ever forget.

If there’s one positive we can take from the shit show that has been 2020, it is that it has provided inspiration for many a band to spit some fire and fury into our welcome ears. There’s next to no benefit of bands being unable to tour but it has, in many cases, given musicians some extra unexpected time to write and record something extra this year.

In the case of Cro-Mags, this something new comes 6 months after the release of their latest album, In the Beginning.

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Called 2020, the focus is clear and expelled in aggressive metal fashion with an uncomfortable dark undercurrent throughout. From the building, groovy rhythm that erupts into hardcore ferocity and down into a quagmire of head-banging on Age of Quarantine to the guitar-laden/drum battering treat that is the title track and into the hyperactive metal bounce of Life On Earth. The first half of the EP offering something different but still welcomingly familiar to the Cro-Mags sound.

Violence and Destruction continues to keep things fresh sounding with echoing guitars, subtle bass and drums, and disconnected vocals that float in. The opening of this track is downright proggy but does revert to Cro-Mags blistering racing metal style, albeit with a cleaner set of vocals and a horn-throwing guitar solo.

Then we get the aptly titled Chaos in the Streets as Cro-Mags pull from the thrash and speed metal playbook for something truly chaotic. Before a wild flurry of bass and guitar makes for a thrilling finale and summary of the year with Cro-Fusion.

Most of us might want to forget the year that has been 2020 but we won’t want to forget the EP, 2020.

Cro-Mags – 2020 Full Track Listing:

1. Age Of Quarantine
2. 2020
3. Life On Earth
4. Violence and Destruction
5. Chaos In The Streets
6. Cro-Fusion


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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Cro-Mags - 2020 (Arising Empire)
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