Cro-Mags - The Age of Quarrel [vinyl reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Age of Quarrel [vinyl reissue] (2011)

Mightier Than Sword

Although it's inarguably one of the most influential hardcore albums of all time, Cro-Mags' debut masterpiece The Age of Quarrel has suffered from unauthorized re-releases, sketchy reissues, and lack of distribution from its very inception. In order to make the album more widely available and to erase the errors made by unscrupulous procures that have plagued the album, Mightier Than Sword Records has released a version authorized by vocalist John Joseph that avoids the pitfalls of previous releases.

Previous versions of The Age of Quarrel seemed to be mastered from either a secondary source or were simply ported to CD in budget fashion, sapping some of the power from the album's iconic low-end rumble. This new vinyl version removes the layer of plastic that seemed to be melted on top of the sound of the previous CD versions, and features a crisper, punchier sound. Although the sound has been sharpened, Mightier Than Sword was smart enough to leave a classic alone, and there doesn't seem to be any after-the-fact post-production, leaving in place the grime that seeps between the album's monstrous licks, which helps it retain the brute mass for which made it so singular. Furthermore, because The Age of Quarrel wouldn't be The Age of Quarrel without John Joseph's unique rasp-growl, his vocals seem to be increased slightly, but as with the music, the execution is left raw, much to the album's benefit.

Additionally, the album tacks on three demo tracks from 1984, two of which are previously unreleased. While the demo tracks don't quite have the unique snap of the released versions, any new "old" Cro-Mags material is a blessing, and these tunes feature the band during their ascent in songwriting skill. It's a minor quibble, but the label should have featured the bonus tracks on a 7" instead of tacking them onto the back end of side B. The Age of Quarrel is very much an album-type album, with a definite beginning and end, as well as movements throughout the slab, so after the album proper finishes with "Signs of the Times", the sudden appearance of the bonus tracks somewhat rob the album of its iconic handbrake stop.

The record itself is pressed on heavy, 180-gram vinyl, giving the album the volume it deserves, and the jacket is thick stock, giving the album the proper gravitas. Interestingly, the inside sleeve features a previously unreleased photo of the band in presumably its earliest 1982 incarnation, which between the youth of the band members and their classic NYC hardcore pose, can really only be unfortunately described as...adorable.

This re-release doesn't redefine the album so much as spruce it up in its most presentable fashion. For those that don't already have this classic crushing slab, this is the version to get.