Cro-Mags - Don't Give In [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Don't Give In [EP] (2019)


Don’t Give In is the first studio release under the Cro-Mags name in 19 years and possibly more importantly, the first since founding members Harley Flanagan and John Joseph settled their three decade dispute over the Cro-Mags name (legally, anyways). So, now there is Cro-Mags (which includes Flanagan as well as long time ‘mags associates Gabby Abularach, Rocky George, and Garry Sullivan) and Cro-Mags JM (which includes John Joseph, Mackie Jayson, AJ Novello, and Craig Satari).

Because this is Flanagan’s first strike under the Cro-Mags banner in almost two decades and first since he reclaimed the mark after years of battle, one would think that he’d blast out a release that pays homage to the band’s classic recordings while boiling the band down to their essence in a contemporary context.

And that’s exactly what he does. Don’t Give In follows in the wake on an excellent album and EP billed to Harley solo, and serves as an extension of that. Long gone are the mystic prophesies, but the sense of street justice remains. “Don’t Give In,” with its battering riffs and rocketing tempo, almost could have been pulled off The Age of Quarrel, ecxept that, while that classic album has metal-heads sense of clarity and control, here, Harley and crew are nearly unhinged. That’s good. As they storm forward with a muscular energy heard on early Motorhead records, Flanagan barks and snarls with that trademark bombastic rage of his.

Yet, where Flanagan rises above many of his contemporaries, is that he deftly avoids falling into meathead clichés. Yes, there is anger and rage here, but behind that, is a sense of deep intelligence, and beyond that, a poet’s soul. “Drag You Under” may have a title that could fit on almost any hardcore record, but it’s the careful choice of words, which excel in their spartan simplicity show that Flanagn writes music like a German engineer makes cars- in-ornate, but strikingly efficient and effective.

If you’ve been following Harley’s recent solo career, there’s nothing here that’s super surprising- this is Harley doing what only Harley can do and he’s doing it more frenzied than before. Cut an album with the same force as this EP and the undisputed champ of NYHC recordings, Age of Quarrel may finally have a suitable contender.