Cro-Mags – “Don’t Give In” EP (Victory / Arising Empire)
Battle Helm Rating
‘.. Lemmy came to me in a dream and said, ‘Take it back mate, it’s yours, you started it.’.’. Synonymous with New York Hardcore along with Agnostic Front must be the Cro-Mags, who came fighting outta the gutter to deliver hard hitting combinations like “Age Of Quarrel” and “Best Wishes”, and together brought hardcore to the metal masses. Formed by a then 14 year old Harley Flanagan, who was already touring as the drummer for The Stimulators, it wasn’t long before he would hook up with Parris Mitchell Mayhew, forming the band that would include vocalist John Joseph in delivering 5 albums and a 30 year plus legacy of worldwide tours. Over the decades, much water has flowed under the bridge between Flanagan and Joseph, both of whom have written auto biographies and each used the band’s name in turn although a recent court settlement seems to have finally brought agreement between them. As such, Flanagan’s long awaited musical return comes as little surprise – and all with the gusto of a returning heavyweight champ keen to take back his crown! ‘..working with the best team, and the best musicians to launch the next era of Cro-Mags…’, Flanagan has recruited non other than legendary Rocky George (Suicidal Tendencies, Fishbone) who will join guitarist Gabby Abularach (who played on “Alpha Omega”) and longtime drummer Gary ‘GMan’ Sullivan (who has played with everyone from the B-52’s, Berny Worrel of Parliament Funkadelic, TM Stevens etc.) and joined Cro-Mags in the 90s. Born out of the depravity of the Lower East Side and tempered by the wisdom of Hare Krishna, Flanagan’s life has provided him with all the rocket fuel needed for the 3 intense songs making up this comeback EP. Round 1: ‘Don’t Give In’ opens instrumentally just as ‘We Gotta Know’ did back in ’86, but with thicker bass and denser guitars before exploding through GMan’s stampeding drums, aggressive riffing touched by wild ass breaks and not forgetting Flanagan’s gruff roars, the hard boiled skinhead now become a father and Renzo Gracie ju-jitsu practitioner. Round 2: ‘Drag You In’ comes in thick n fast with the energy going into overload as Flanagan’s street life lyrics of ‘..sometimes life is a real muthafucka..’ hit you right the face as GMan threatens to stomp your ass all over the sidewalk while George and Abularach simply dance their cool licks like Ali around the ring. Round 3: ‘No One’s Victim’ slows a tad but chuggs like a Harley (sorry, no pun intended), along with the dirty but funky guitars as Flanagan roars from the rooftops while twanging on his bass like he’s gonna wrench off the strings. And in an instant it’s all over – just like a short and sharp KO. As some cheer and others can’t contain their disappointment at this brief offering, one thing is certain: Harley Flanagan and the Cro-Mags are back.