Harley Flanagan – Lead vocals, bass
Gabby Abularach – Guitar
Rocky George – Guitar
Garry “G-Man” Sullivan – Drums
1. Don’t Give In (3:00)
2. Drag You Under (1:32)
3. No One’s Victim (2:39)
4. From The Grave (2:18)
5. No One’s Coming (4:38)
6. Ptsd (3:30)
7. The Final Test (3:23)
8. One Bad Decision (2:12)
9. Two Hours (2:24)
10. Don’t Talk About It (2:08)
11. Between Wars (instrumental) (5:49)
12. No Turning Back (2:19)
13. There Was a Time (2:25)
CRO-MAGS, New York hardcore legends, released their new album, ‘In The Beginning’ on June 19, 2020, through Arising Empire and Mission Two Entertainment.
As part of the celebration, they’re giving away a free download of their new song ‘The Final Test’ HERE.
The depravity and violence of the Lower East Side of New York in the late 70’s and early 80’s led to the birth of the original CRO-MAGS. Harley Flanagan founded the band with Parris Mayhew and before they knew it they had become integral to the history of hardcore, and its evolution from punk to the many alternative genres that followed. Bands like Metallica and Greenday, as well as artists like Dave Grohl, have credited CRO-MAGS with their personal musical development.
Singer John Joseph and drummer Mackie Jayson of the original band are now performing separately under the name CRO-MAGS “JM”, following a lawsuit in which Harley Flanagan won the rights to the original name.
Watch their video for ‘From The Grave’ HERE:
After listening to ‘In The Beginning’, I’ve decided my opinion is that this album is not terrible, but it isn’t good. There is hardly any development musically, thematically, or lyrically throughout. In fact, it feels like much of the same repeating itself. I actually was excited by the start of the first track, ‘Don’t Give In’. The instrument tones, especially the guitar, are quite nice and the production itself is solid. The first portion of the album keeps the songs short, so I listen with curiosity, as it’s still too early to tell where this is all going. Tempo changes between a moving mid-tempo and a fast thrash seem to be a favourable choice here, while lyrical themes of resistance and staying true to yourself run through the songs.
During ‘From The Grave’, however, I can’t help feeling somewhat unsettled by the line “Sometimes life is a dirty whore”. I’m unsure of his personal connotations, but something about it feels wrong and unnecessary to me. It doesn’t make sense to sing about uplifting yourself and empowering people to keep their strength, all the while making negative insinuations towards women who either make that choice for themselves, or don’t have one because of circumstance. It may just be one line, but I think it’s important to look at lyrics and question where they are coming from, and why someone felt comfortable using words in that way.
Moving on to songs like ‘The Final Test’ and ‘One Bad Decision’, I’m starting to wonder if these guys ever change up the formula, or if the rest of the album is destined for the same old. I like some of the slower and darker intros, and I even dig the thrash, but I’m starting to tire from the same pattern and key signature. Although, I will say that the instruments are really tight and on-point. I do really like the breakdowns, especially the guitars. It can also be appreciated that the song ‘Two Hours’ advocates for people to question their lifestyles and choose a positive path, rather than going down a dark and destructive tunnel. The song features spoken word narrative of a phone call between a prison inmate and someone they know. Would I go back to listen to it again? Probably not.
I liked the instrumental ‘Between Wars’, especially with the string later over the top adding a mysterious element. ‘No Turning Back’ was decent as well. Sadly neither song really went anywhere and I found myself underwhelmed. ‘There Was a Time’ brings us to a pretty basic end to the record.
Overall, if you’re a die-hard punk/hardcore fan, this may be worth the listen for the novelty of CRO-MAGS. As for me, I’ll give it a pass.