"In The Beginning"

(Mission Two Entertainment)

01. Don't Give In
02. Drag You Under
03. No One's Victim
04. From The Grave
05. No One's Coming
06. PTSD
07. The Final Test
08. One Bad Decision
09. Two Hours
10. Don't Talk About It
11. Between Wars (instrumental)
12. No Turning Back
13. What You Believed

RATING: 8/10

It has been 20 long years since we have heard a new full-length album from New York's seminal hardcore outfit CRO-MAGS. They released a pair of EPs—"Don't Give In" and "From The Grave"—last year via Victory Records, but amid the current period of global chaos and turmoil, the legendary band that was born from the violent streets of the New York's Lower East Side couldn't have released its new long player at a more appropriate time. "In The Beginning" is the product of the Harley Flanagan unit, as the longstanding in-fighting eventually led to the legal settlement allowing Flanagan to obtain ownership of the CRO-MAGS name, while singer John Joseph and drummer Mackie Jayson perform under the moniker CRO-MAGS "JM". Listeners' allegiance toward specific camps may vary, but regardless of what the band name is, Harley Flanagan is indisputably a hardcore pioneer, and "In The Beginning" is an excellent and memorable hardcore album.

Bassist and lead vocalist Flanagan is accompanied these days by drummer Garry "G-Man" Sullivan as well as guitarists Gabby Abularach and Rocky George (SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, FISHBONE)—an impressive lineup, to be sure. The unit has produced an album that won't be as revered as the classic CRO-MAGS 1986 debut "The Age of Quarrel"—a milestone that bridged punk and thrash metal into a blueprint for crossover—but in terms of quality, "In The Beginning" is one of the band's better albums. Unlike the aforementioned debut, however, the new record eschews the more overtly metal-driven dynamics and edge in favor of more prominent, hardcore stylized songs in the vein of SICK OF IT ALL or MADBALL.

The new, 13-track effort begins with the trio of songs that constitute the "Don't Give In" EP. The lyrics are rife with rage and angst, yet at its core there's an uplifting sense of survival, hope and perseverance. The meaning and sentiment is delivered musically in the form of a hybrid of eighties and nineties hardcore that's encompassed by a modern, crystal-clear production aesthetic. And, desirably, the production doesn't drown the music's inherent coarseness.

In spite of the underlying anger, the most prominent feeling at the heart of "In The Beginning" is the spirit of triumph, a reason to keep pushing forward through adversity. Songs like "Don't Give In" and "No Turning Back" are abundant with the anthemic qualities staple to hardcore. "Between Wars", a nearly six-minute-long, brooding instrumental, provides a likable contrast to the abrasion that's plastered across the rest of the album. Elsewhere, tracks like "No One's Victim" and "Two Hours" rest atop slow grooves that are simple, infectious and catchy.

The significance of Harley Flanagan and the CRO-MAGS in the realm of hardcore simply can't be overstated. It's fair to say that the band's name is synonymous with hardcore. The pioneering NYHC act has reached outside of hardcore by influencing such notable and varied bands as NIRVANA, GREEN DAY and METALLICA. Sure, they aren't likely to release an album as profound and powerful as "The Age of Quarrel" again. But the legendary act, whose core foundation has splintered into two entities, proves its continued relevance with "In The Beginning".


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).