This one’s gonna snap a few bones and blacken an eye. The CRO-MAG’s new record, In The Beginning, may be the best thing this band, or any of its previous lineups, have released since 1986’s legendary, Age Of Quarrel. It drops June 19th via Mission Two Entertainment.
In many ways, this record is an origin story. It’s the rebirth and re-emergence of a band that’s been fractured by infighting and litigation for decades. Its leader, Harley Flanagan, has been the victim of scene related violence and endured his fair share of legal woes also. Both the band and Flanagan have been through hell and back. But this version of the CRO-MAGS is a true phoenix rising, a return to roots, New York hardcore roots, that is. If Age Of Quarrel had a metal influence, In The Beginning is more in line with the sound and attitude of AGNOSTIC FRONT, SICK OF IT ALL, and MADBALL.
Says Flanagan, “…The front cover [of the record] is a picture of the building I used to live in called ‘C Squat,’ which is where I wrote most of the music that wound up on the Age Of Quarrel demos; it was taken when I used to live there in the early 80’s by Brooke Smith. The back cover is a recent picture of me, well the back of my head…looking down at the site where that building once stood; so essentially, it’s me looking at my past.
The inside picture is of the front of the building in the early 80’s…It’s pretty intense. You can’t imagine what that place was like…This is the first CRO-MAGS album in 20 years after I had to go through major hell to secure what everyone knows was always my [bands] name. It cost a lot financially and emotionally, probably second only to the Misfits.”
In The Beginning isn’t just a record, it’s a history book, it’s storytelling at its finest through the medium of music. This record isn’t just Flanagan’s story, it celebrates New York hardcore as well as the spirit of the city itself. The album speaks to the gritty streets and clubs Flanagan cut his teeth gigging in, throughout his career.
Stand out tracks are the first four, although the entire disc is a gem start to finish – “Don’t Give In,” “Drag You Under,” “No One’s Victim,” and “From The Grave,” the latter of which a video was shot featuring a super fit, super intense Harley Flanagan stomping around NYC and it’s adjacent boroughs.
In The Beginning is the sound of a prison riot, an uprising in the street, a gang fight. If the movie The Warriors were reimagined today, Harley’s voice would be the hand that wields the sword that is the CRO-MAGS, and this record would be its soundtrack. Gritty, street smart, NYHC; one hell of a must buy.