Published Jun 23, 2020The amount of bands that check Cro-Mags as an influence is mind-boggling. As creators of 1986's The Age of Quarrel, Cro-Mags spearheaded a tougher movement in the late-'80s New York hardcore scene. Now returning to the studio after a 20-year absence, one has to wonder what Cro-Mags could possibly still have to offer after decades of sound-alikes copying their sound.
It turns out, quite a lot. The OG spirit of 'New Yowrk hawd cawr' runs deep through In the Beginning. Comparing it to The Age of Quarrel is useless, but this album trashes all the wannabes that think they can pull this schtick off.
Harley Flanegan — who is making his triumphant return to Cro-Mags after legally acquiring the name from former bandmates John Joseph and Mackie Jayson — seems like he's barely missed a step as the group stomp their way through thirteen tracks of the most classic hardcore punk imaginable. There's no attempt to recreate the wheel or do anything unexpected, barring an uncharacteristically epic interlude "Between Wars." Fans who stuck it out for the 20-year drought will feel rewarded. This, surely, is the best thing we could have hoped for.
Cro-Mags' legacy is set in hardcore stone. Many of the genre's current leaders say they wouldn't exist without them — which is why it's a real treat to see them reaffirm that legacy, proving that they haven't gotten too old for this shit, nor have they lost any of their fire. The grooves on tracks like "Drag You Under" and "Form the Grave" still feel as fresh now as they did in the Reagan era.
Call Cro-Mags stuck in the past if you will, but the bottom line is there's a reason so many bands are still trying to nail this formula. It's great to hear the originators take them to school. (Mission Two)