Picture of Cro-Mags

The Age of Quarrel

Cro-Mags - The Age of Quarrel ©1986 Profile
1. We Gotta Know
2. World Peace
3. Show You No Mercy
4. Malfunction
5. Street Justice
6. Survival of the Streets
7. Seekers of the Truth
8. It's the Limit
9. Hard Times
10. By Myself
11. Don't Tread On Me
12. Face the Facts
13. Do Unto Others
14. Life of my Own
15. Signs of the Times

The disclaimer to this review is that I grew up very far from the streets of New York City and had a youth filled with nature, forests and creeks. I imagine growing up in NYC, surrounded by concrete and vast numbers of people drastically changes one's outlook on life. Let's just say there's a good reason there was never an angry hardcore scene erupting from the rural Colorado mountains. With that out of the way, it's time to discuss one of the most legendary records of the NYHC (that's New York HardCore, for the unknowing) scene: Cro-Mags' The Age of Quarrel. This album seems to be revered as a milestone of the scene.

Ironically, this comes across as a thrash metal record to my ears. To a degree.

The Cro-Mags, at least in this incarnation, still retained some of the hardcore punk elements that obviously belong to that scene. Singer John "Bloodclot" Joseph McGeown has little in the way of thrash metal high pitched shrieking but instead a rather odd barked, wheezy delivery. But it's the musicians in the band and their very heavy, metallic riffs that make it quite easy to see how New York City could spawn the likes of themselves and Nuclear Assault. The drumming tends to be more of the punk tempo and approach, but this was music made for mosh pits. There was little love between the long and short hairs at the time, despite the fact their music was so closely related. It's head scratching, to the say the least, particularly with nearly twenty five years of hindsight to contemplate.

For many years, my impression of the Cro-Mags was based entirely on photos of bassist (and future vocalist) Harley Flanigan displaying various degrees of intensity onstage with his facial expressions. But upon hearing it, The Age of Quarrel is a fairly decent outing for the Cro-Mags. The youthful energy of punk and the anger of hardcore remains intact. There are some passages where the band's lack of expertise create "gritty" moments. From what I have heard from other NYHC bands, this actually is one of the best records from the scene. However, let's not lose sight that the bar wasn't exactly set that high in the first place by those other bands.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2010

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