Legal issues dealt with and the Cro-Mags are finally back with their first new release in 20 years, and what do we have?
This is the Harley Flanagan fronted Cro-Mags, the name back with its originator who has described this as being “…if minor Threat wrote master of puppets” and although that is an apt description, it is really selling itself short.
Harley’s life story is one of spirit, self-reliance, and attitude that would in-turn become know as NYHC and thus defining the lifestyle worldwide, that attitude is what really stands out behind the music.
Cro-Mags classic album from ‘86, The Age of Quarrel, was metal-influenced hardcore but always seemed to have a west coast lead guitar sound, here rounded out by S.T. guitarist Rocky George, 2000′s Revenge notwithstanding, but Don’t Give In really is the logical step from The Age of Quarrel.
A chunky breakdown opens the EP like a statement of intent (or a punch to the face.) before kicking into a driving beat a minute in that does not let up. Three tracks in under seven minutes of music. Titles like ‘Don’t Give In’, ‘Drag You Under’ and ‘No One’s Victim’ means lyrically that the “song also remains the same” and it’s the combination of inspiring lyrics and big hardcore riffs that makes this that logical step.
At a time when it’s increasingly harder to find heart, soul, and authenticity in modern hardcore, it’s refreshing to know that it really takes the originators to deliver the goods. Paired with Chicago’s Victory Records, they are not afraid to push the boundaries of hardcore while remaining true to the original Bands and sound. This EP and Cro-Mags being at home on Victory tells me – an aging hardcore kid – that regardless of the corporate mockery that hardcore has become, I can always rely on a band like the Cro-Mags to still write inspiring hardcore. A life-affirming experience indeed.
Reviewed by Scott Campbell