• Cro-Mags
  • The Age of Quarrel (Rock Hotel/Profile) 1986 
  • Best Wishes (Profile) 1989 

Although led by a Hare Krishna devotee, these New York hardcore kings neither jangle finger cymbals nor chant religious mantras on The Age of Quarrel, a blaze of state-of-the-art punk aggro. Vocalist John Joseph (co-lyricist with bassist Harley Flanagan) roars through humanist lyrics about peace, trust, independence and justice as the band keeps up the mid-speed speaker-shredding with two guitarists doing their best to update Ritchie Blackmore’s throaty Deep Purple sound. Drummer Mackie regulates the tempo enough to ensure an adequate proportion of mosh parts (generally at the beginning of songs rather than the middle), but often unnervingly sounds like he’s playing an entirely different song from his bandmates.

With varied tempos, extended song lengths, more guitar solos and effectively threatening atmosphere, an overhauled lineup — now featuring Flanagan on vocals (in place of the departed Joseph) and ex-Kraut guitarist Doug Holland sharing the axe duties with Parris Mitchel Mayhew — made an effective stylistic transition from metallic punk to punky metal on Best Wishes. While most of the tightly structured tracks thunder along with little subtlety (except in the lyrics), Flanagan does deliver his devotional sentiments in “The Only One” with dramatic flair.

[Ira Robbins]