CRO-MAGS REVISITED: The Age of Quarrel (Profile Records, 1986)

The Cro-Mags’ debut actually came out on a hip-hop label, as Profile was best known for being the record peddlers that first signed Run DMC. Not sure how that connection happened, but these guys clearly took some of the Sony subsidiary’s money to throw together a music video for “We Gotta Know,” which became somewhat of a late-night staple on MTV. Of course, if you listen to the demo before this one, you’ll notice that 11 of the songs are the same, although I see they’ve omitted “Everybody’s Gonna Die,” along with the dubstep outro…

They also switched up the order a bit, most notably dropping “By Myself” all the way down to Track 10. And it’s the MTV anthem that leads things off, “We Gotta Know” coming in all slow and ominous with its extended intro before launching into a mid-paced, manic shout-along. “World Peace” and “Show You No Mercy” follow, before “Malfunction” slows things down in its usual spot. The cleaner recording certainly adds some venom to Joseph’s vocals, giving the infamous refrain to “World Peace” just a bit more bite.

“Street Justice” was not on the demo, but here the speedy, minute-30 thrasher is paired with “Survival of the Streets” to illustrate that you really didn’t wanna be hanging around the Lower East Side after dark. “Seekers of the Truth” is another slower number in the vein of “Malfunction,” though this one’s got a grittier, Motorhead feel, especially in the vocal department. “It’s the Limit” and “Hard Times” follow, before we finally get Joseph “By Myself.”

The next block of tracks seem kinda preachy if taken strictly at face value, with the steady stream of “Don’t Tread on Me,” “Face the Facts” and newbie “Do Onto Others,” the latter of which seemingly instructs us to pick people up after knocking them on their asses in the pit. Yuuuup, she’s a real rager!

“Life of My Own” provides its expected doom-and-gloom, before this one ends with “Signs of the Times,” which beats the hell outta dubstep any day! Overall, I prefer the slicker, more fleshed-out versions of this record to the rawer Before the Quarrel, but either way ya slice it, these are some classic tracks, maaaaan…

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CRO-MAGS REVISITED: Before the Quarrel (independent, 1985)

So, John Joseph and co are loading up the van for a couple Canadian dates next weekend, hitting Toronto on Friday the 1st.  Me, I’ll be seeing ‘em at an all-ages afternoon matinee in Montreal the following day–cuz what’s more hardcore than that!?  I also heard they’re playing Deadmonton on the 3rd.  Man, even if the MTL gig’s a matinee, I’m not sure you can drive from there to Edmonton in a day.  I mean, it’s such a long trip, they could listen to all their albums half-a-dozen times each!  Hey, now there’s an idea… ;)

OK, so I don’t think the band actually had the foresight to call their demo EP Before the Quarrel. My guess is someone tacked on that title when it was reissued, posthumously, at the dawn of the new millennium. But the raw, punk/crossover feel that defined The Age of Quarrel is certainly present here—to the point where some elitists even prefer this one to the band’s official debut.

Thirteen tracks fly by in 25 minutes here, albeit not without leaving their mark. “World Peace” kicks things off in true crossover fashion, coming off as a cross between Razor and COC. And as opposed to all the anti-war outfits out there, this band’s stance is pretty clear: “World peace can’t be done/It just can’t exist!” “By Myself” picks up where its predecessor left off, another speed-punk barrage that leaves nothing (and no one) standing still; its vocal narrative somewhat recalls Rollins, albeit with an NYC sneer. And I’m not saying “Show You No Mercy” sounds like Slayer, but it’s certainly no less merciless.

“Malfunction” slows things down considerably, which is to say it’s mostly mid-paced, visions of Black Flag and even Saint Vitus dancing in my head, with John Joseph out-garbling Mike Dean in the vocal department. But “Hard Times” picks up the pace with a classic punk-rock bassline and some paper-thin kick drums. It’s paint-by-numbers hardcore, but in a good way. “Signs of the Times” doubles down on the kick drums, but adds a bit more metallic crunch, a pretty decent example of thrashcore. “Don’t Tread on Me” goes to the same barber as its predecessor, although I’d say it has a slightly better haircut, ending with an anthemic gang-vocal refrain.

“Face the Facts” is pure punk-rock fury, a driving hardcore number that has me thinking DOA mixed with just a bit of British Steel-era Priest. “It’s the Limit” throws some crazy drumming into the mix for what might be the fastest song intro on here, a real rager that takes things into moshpit territory. “Life of My Own” kicks off with a wicked, winding bassline, containing some killer breakdowns in its slo-mo chorus. Then “Survival of the Streets” takes us to the viciousness of the Bronx zoo, a crazy-fast number that’ll mug ya before asking directions.

“Everybody’s Gonna Die” sounds like a good way to end things, although some mopey Type O Negative number, this is not. Razor or Discharge is more its speed, perhaps some combination of the two. But the album actually ends with one minute of dubstep—I fuckin’ shit ya not!

Man, tonight’s Battle of Alberta has all the makings of… a Late-July Classic!

Although they’ve redeemed internet commentors with broken caps-lock keys everywhere, the Ottawa REDBLACKS!!!!! threw the CFL schedule out of whack upon rejoining the league this season.  While teams previously played each divisional opponent three or four times, they now face off no more than twice (nine-team league, 18-game schedule), with just two select foes on the docket a third time.  Fortunately for football fans in Canada’s economic engine, the league had the foresight to schedule an additional matchup between its two strongest teams…as at Week Five.

Considering that the Stamps won the West last season, their 3-0 start isn’t much of a surprise.  That said, they’ve done so with a starting quarterback who was third on the depth chart in 2013–and largely without Canada’s greatest athlete, RB Jon Cornish, who’s out until the Labour Day rematch with a cheap-shot concussion.  Lemme just say, Imma be in Montreal next weekend, and if I happen to see Kyries Hebert, Imma go all Kyries Hebert on his azz!

On the other hand, not even the most die-hard Deadmonton fan, who bleeds green and poops gold (his name is Larry), would’ve predicted a 4-0 start after a 4-14 finish last season.  Granted, the Eskies lost several close games down the stretch while Mike Riley put up some big numbers.  But what’s even more surprising is that they’ve mostly done it with defence this year, allowing the second-fewest points in the league thus far, only behind…the Calgary Stampeders.

Calgary’s defence has been so stifling that they’ve given up just one touchdown all season–and it was on a last-second, penalty-aided, garbage-time drive by Montreal that came after Hebert put his life in future jeopardy with that big-time illegal hit.  The problem is that the Stamps haven’t been nearly as successful on offence, owing to the fact that they’re without the all-time greatest Canadian rusher of all time.  Hell, with just 73 points to date, Calgary would just barely be the second-highest-scoring team in the CFL Least Division–as it stands, only last-place Saskatchewan has put up fewer points out West.

Now, when I first heard that Jonny MOP would be back for the Edmonton game, I thought they meant this Edmonton game, not the third meeting of the season.  But nevertheless, if there’s one guy who knows how to win games, it’s the Texas Gunslinger, Bo Levi Mitchell, who’s looking to tie a CFL record by starting his career 7-0.  Mike Reilly, even after his hot start, is just 9-15 as a starter…and one of those wins actually came against Edmonton.  But since the Stamps defence only gives up 10 points a game, I’m gonna go with Calgary 15, Edmonton 9.  Put that in your pipeline and frack it!


The Bridge is back!

Much like when I first stumbled across this FX drama, I was flipping through the TV listings of a Wednesday a couple weeks back when I went “Holy shit, Season Two of The Bridge starts tonight!” I quite enjoyed the first season’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop dynamic, albeit with two characters who are somewhat lacking in moral judgement.  But I will say it lost me towards the end with the whole plot twist about a vengeful ex-cop turned cop-killer/substitute-teacher impersonator with a hate-on for Inspector Ruiz.  That’s where it went from gritty crime drama to less-than-believable Hollywood yarn, if you ask me.  But Season Two’s already shaping up to be quite interesting…


For one thing, it’s made clear within the first couple episodes that while Ruiz (played by Demian Bichir) and Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) will be working together again, they aren’t exactly on the same side.  And while we’re not quite sure what happened to psycho killer Kenneth Hastings, it’s now Ruiz who’s motivated by revenge.  I’m still not sure where this new tattooed Mexican lady who seduces teenage boys and stabs them in storage lockers fits into the whole cartel hierarchy yet, but I suspect we’ll soon find out.  Here’s hoping that she‘s not a left-for-dead FBI agent, too!

Of course, we still haven’t even gotten into the tunnel that runs underneath that rich cougar’s farmland, or the whole bridge murder that gave the show its namesake.  Suffice to say that all is not well in Old El Paso…

(Looks like someone’s having chicken for dinner again!)

Episode 129 of Gruesome Tunes now available for download!



07/20/14 PLAYLIST

Weedeater – Hammerhandle (Jason… the Dragon) 3:01

Backwoods Payback – Mr. Snowflake (Momantha) 3:39

Wino & Conny Ochs – Here Comes the Siren (Heavy Kingdom) 3:30

1000Mods – Vultures (Vultures) 5:04

Coven 13 – Walpurgisnacht (Destiny of the Gods) 6:25

Dwellers – Totem Crawler (Pagan Fruit) 4:33

Nymf – Like a Giant Orange Sun (From the Dark) 3:35


The Wounded Kings – Space Conqueror (Consolamentum) 2:43

Thou – Helen Will Have Her Revenge on New Orleans (To the Chaos Wizard Youth) 7:44

Reverend Bizarre – Fucking Wizard (II: Crush the Insects) 11:16

Totimoshi – The Fool (Avenger) 4:51

Discharge – Hype Overload (War is Hell) 3:00


Black Tar Prophet – Condemned (Deafen) 3:55

Mountain Goat – Space (self-titled) 15:17

End of Level Boss – Thud (Eklectric) 3:13

Kings Destroy – Decrepit (A Time of Hunting) 5:44


Iron Tongue – Witchery (The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown) 4:31

The Body & Braveyoung – Song One (Nothing Passes) 3:21

Monster Magnet – One Dead Moon (Last Patrol) 5:20

Obelyskkh – Horse (Hymn to Pan) 8:32

Lo-Pan – Bird of Prey (Salvador) 6:34

So, I finally listened to the new Sleep single…

It took me a few days of reading mostly non-plussed comments on Facebook before I finally got around to hearing “The Clarity,” the much-ballyhooed, “I can’t believe it’s not a reunion!” single from stoner-doom blueprint-writers Sleep.  And don’t get me wrong, I hear all the criticisms in this 10-minute track.  It sounds like OM; it sounds like half the songs on Holy Mountain; the vocals sound too clean; there’s too much noodling; Jason Roeder plays a little more like himself and less like Chris Hakius…and so on.  Truth be told, if they’d released a full album of new material, I don’t think this would be the standout track.  But as a standalone number, well, I certainly can’t complain.  After all, you’re talking to a guy who owns four different copies of Jerusalem/Dopesmoker!

In case you’ve been living under a cock-rocker or something…you’re welcome:


Week Four was all about the defence, as only two teams topped 20 points across the league.  What’s more, not one, not two, but three franchises were held to single digits, a rarity in professional football–though it should come as no surprise that all three of said teams played in the East Division last season. ;)

On the other hand, the B.C. Lions’ 41-point output surpassed the combined scoring total of both teams in the other three games.  After two straight wins, it looks like the Lions are right back in the playoff hunt.  Even if B.C. can’t catch the top teams out West (and, I gotta say, I think they’ll pass Winnipeg next week), we can safely say the crossover rule will be in full effect this season.  Enjoy your inaugural victory, REDBLACKS!!!!! fans–your team now leads the Least Division!!!!!

Of course, they’re nowhere near the top of this week’s Gruesomeviews Power Rankings…

Preseason Predictions

Last Week’s Rankings

Rankings Archive

1. Edmonton Eskimos (4-0) Last Week: 3.  Now, I don’t like to see Edmonton atop any list aside from the national murder rankings, but I must give credit to the Eskies, who’ve already equaled their win total from all of last season.  B.C. might have put more points on the board, but there was no Week Four win more impressive than Edmonton’s 26-3 road dismantling of the previously-undefeated Blue Bombers.  Sure sets up one heckuva Battle of Alberta on Thursday!

2. Calgary Stampeders (3-0) Last Week: 1.  Alas, the Stamps also enter Edmonton undefeated, and while they too kept their Week Four opponents out of the end zone, twas a much closer contest than expected versus the lowly Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  But while their offence couldn’t really get on track last Friday, the Calgary defence is simply sensational, allowing just 30 points over its first three games.  No, not 30 points a game–more like 30 points a month; they’ve only allowed one TD to date!  Considering that Edmonton’s the only other team to give up fewer than 60 points thus far, we could be headed for a lower-scoring contest than you might think.  But on the bright side, word has it that Jon Cornish will be back in time for the first BoA, giving the Stamps’ run-game a much-needed boost.  My prediction: Cowtown 20, Deadmonton 10.

3. B.C. Lions (2-2) Last Week: 5.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a 41-5 win will give a team’s power ranking a big boost.  Coming up all the way from dead last in my Week Two rankings, B.C. now appears poised to contend in the West Division after back-to-back wins.  And while the Lions are still without Travis Lulay for a couple more weeks, nobody in Vancouver can complain about Kevin Glenn’s stat line last night: 23-31, 301 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs.  And how bout that defence, eh?

4. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-1) Last Week: 2.  Throughout Winnipeg’s hot start, I kept saying “Wait ’till they play the West!”  The Bombers’ first three wins all came against the East Division, which they would still be leading comfortably had they not been realigned after Ottawa’s re-entry into the league.  And sure enough, Winnipeg’s first intra-divisional matchup couldn’t have gone much worse, as they were held to just a lone field goal on their home turf.  After his hot start to the season, Drew “Big Willy Style” came crashing down faster than Will Smith’s rap career, completing just 52 per cent of his passes for no touchdowns and a pick.  The Bombers face another tough test in Week Five, traveling to B.C. to face a Lions team that tends to feast on Eastern teams at 10 pm.  Of course, they now represent the West, but I’m still repeating my Week One call of Winnipeg claiming the crossover spot, and subsequently winning the East, this season.

5. Ottawa REDBLACKS!!!!!! (1-2) Last Week: 9.  Congrats to Ottawa on the franchise’s first win (assuming they aren’t a continuation of the Rough Riders and the Renegades).  But that doesn’t change the fact that the REDBLACKS!!!!! didn’t score a TD last week, kicking six field goals in the victory.  And hey, their starting QB is still 39 years old, and his name’s still Henry Burris.  But you know what, I think Ottawa could actually make the playoffs out East this season.  I know I’d much rather have 39-year-old Sexting Hank than any of the pivots they’ve got in Hamilton or Montreal, at least for the next year or two.  And hey, their fanbase is almost completely on board–I can personally attest that only single seats and nosebleeds remain for the game against Calgary on August 24.  In fact, I’ll actually be forced to sit in the second level!

6. Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-2) Last Week: 7.  That’s right, the Riders moved up a spot without playing a game in Week Four.  Cuz hey, I’m pretty sure they scored more than 17 points in their intra-squad scrimmage. ;)

7. Toronto Argonauts (1-3) Last Week: 6.  Congrats Toronto, you just lost to an expansion team!  For the second straight week, the Argos failed to hit 20 points on the scoreboard, though they at least found the end zone–albeit once–in Ottawa.  Being held to 15 points by the stingy Stampeders D isn’t so shameful, but when you’re kept under 20 by a first-year franchise that’s still giving up 27 per game, well, now you’ve got problems.  I still like the Argos to win the East (in the regular season), but they need to find some offence, fast!  Sure enough, a Week Five date with Saskatchewan, who surrendered 48 points to the Boatmen in their home opener, could be just what the captain called for…

8. Montreal Alouettes (1-3) Last Week: 4.  The Als were Week Four’s biggest losers, both on the scoreboard and in my power rankings.  After a pretty positive performance by Troy Smith in Week Three, the second-year CFL pivot took a huge step backwards last night, to the tune of 5-for-17, 45 yards passing.  Chad Johnson looked so bored on the sidelines that I’m surprised he didn’t take a little time to practice his short game.  It might not help that the overhyped import refuses to waggle, but it increasingly looks like he doesn’t have anyone to just give him the damn ball.  (Whoops, wrong Johnson!)

9. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-3) Last Week: 8.  After three straight road losses to start the season, the Tabbies come home next week to the friendly confines of…McMaster University’s Ron Joyce Stadium, seating capacity 6,000.  And with the way they’ve been playing, it might not even be full.  Though their defence appears to be pretty decent, Hamilton’s been scoring fewer than 14 points per game this season.  But if they beat the REDBLACKS!!!!! at their home away from home next week, they could very well move into a four-way tie for first place in the East–all at no better than 1-3.  Which, ultimately, is somewhat akin to kissing your sister…if she looks like this: