Cro-Mags are an American hardcore punk turned crossover thrash band from New York City. The band, which had a strong cult following, has released five studio albums, their first two considered the most influential. With a Hare Krishna background, they were among the first bands to fuse hardcore punk with thrash metal and were associated with the birth of a tougher attitude within the hardcore scene in the late 1980s, related to the world of martial arts. John Joseph McGowan and Harley Flanagan (formerly drummer for The Stimulators), are practitioners of boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu respectively. The Cro-Mags have gone through several line-up changes, and as of 2016, there are no constant members left in the band.
According to AllMusic, "before the Cro-Mags, the idea of combining heavy metal and hardcore together was unheard of. But with the release of their classic debut, The Age of Quarrel, hardcore-metal was born, and in its wake came a legion of similarly styled offspring (Biohazard, Vision of Disorder, etc.)."
The band's early years were spent "living in burnt out buildings, squats and on the streets". They first released a demo with songs that would eventually find themselves on their debut album The Age Of Quarrel (1986). Singer John Joseph subsequently parted ways with the band, leaving bass player Harley Flanagan to sing on the following Cro-Mags release, Best Wishes (1989), which had a more heavy metal-influenced sound. The next record Alpha Omega (1992) saw the return of Joseph. According to guitarist and songwriter Parris Mitchell Mayhew, he wrote most of the album with guitarist Rob Buckley. However, neither Mayhew or Buckley played on the actual recording, as Cro-Mags disbanded and later recorded the album with previous members.
The album Near Death Experience (1993) followed, after which the group disbanded for several years. They began touring again in the late 1990s, and eventually released 2000's Revenge. For many fans, this album signified a return to Cro-Mags' early hardcore roots. Many songs were comparable to those on The Age Of Quarrel, although some featured a more melodic/punk rock style. The release of Revenge and its subsequent tour resulted in yet another break up, which caused lasting resentment between Mayhew and Flanagan. The Cro-Mags have since reformed, and continue to play sporadic live shows.
In 2008, John Joseph began playing shows with Mackie Jayson on drums, Craig Setari of Sick of It All on bass, and AJ Novello of Leeway on guitar. In an October 2010 interview, Joseph revealed that the Cro-Mags were planning to release a new album in 2011. As of 2016, the album has yet to be released.
On July 6, 2012, Harley Flanagan was arrested for allegedly stabbing two men backstage at Webster Hall in New York City before the band was scheduled to perform. Flanagan reportedly sustained a broken leg while being subdued by security. Injuries to the victims were not life-threatening. Flanagan claims that he was jumped, and the stabbing was in self-defense.