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Cro-Mags - Alpha Omega (Reissue)

Alpha Omega (Reissue)
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 03 October 2016, 11:47 AM

CRO-MAGS are a legendary band from New York City, formed in 1980, and credited as a very early pioneer in the American Hardcore movement. This is a re-issue of the band’s third studio album, released in 1992. In the Metal scene at the time, this album was released in a very pivotal few years for Heavy Metal, as it was trying to re-gain a sense of itself and was being re-born in many new directions. Bands like SUICIDAL TENDENCIES had re-defined themselves as a former Punk act and now crossing over into Metal, but with Hardcore and Rap influences. You need to take yourself back to this time, and with this information in mind, if this is the first time you have heard this album. “See The Signs” is a proto-typical example of their sound at the time. The riff is akin to Speed/Thrash Metal without the complicated changes that often accompany the style, and the vocals ride the line somewhere between singing and shouting. It is admittedly difficult to label this sound.

“Eyes of Tomorrow” has more rhythmic qualities that you might hear in Hardcore Rap for example. The marriage between these two was well documented at that time, probably first heard in ANTHRAX’s collaboration with PUBLIC ENEMY with “Bring the Noise.” But rather than the back and forth genre changes we heard with that, this song melds them as one so you really can’t pick out differing parts in the same track. “Apocalypse Now” is a slower, more lumbering song that uses held open notes and heavy drumming to make its mark. This song is more traditional in what we might call Hard Rock or Heavy Metal, especially when the pace is quickened near the half-way mark, and a smoldering guitar solo rears up. “The Paths of Perfection” could be an old JUDAS PRIEST track, minus the short shouts here and there. The album is actually quite diverse and they employ many different songwriting techniques. “Kurukseta” adds to this with a faster paced rocker that employs a few different riffs to get the sound across and vocals that keep the song somewhat mysterious in nature. “Changes” is reflective of the title, in that soft and dark acoustic guitars provide the opening to the remainder of the song which is a good marriage of Crossover type sound.

The bonus track, “Omega Jam,” is a song where the band can just cut their chops and show off some impressive musicianship. Overall I must confess that I was not expecting the album to be as good as it was, and am pleasantly surprised in particular how much diversity they worked into the songs, while retaining a signature style that is recognizable by fans. The boundaries in this genre can be pretty thin, but “Alpha Omega” proves that they do not have to be. It has all the qualities of a seasoned band without even a hint of an identity crisis, yet dares to step off the path here and there to keep your experience wide.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. See The Signs
2. Eyes of Tomorrow
3. The Other Side Of Madness (Revenge)
4. Apocalypse Now
5. The Paths of Perfection
6. Victims
7. VII
8. Kurukseta
9. Changes
10. Omega Jam (Bonus Track)
John Joseph Bloodclot – Vocals
A.J. Novello – Guitars
Mackie – Drums
Mike “The Gook” Couls – Bass
Record Label: Divebomb Records


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Edited 30 November 2022

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