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. They were also one of the first hardcore punk bands associated with the Hare Krishna movement.
The bass player Harley Flanagan and singer John Joseph were not the best of friends and eventually Joseph would part ways with the band leaving Harley to sing on the following Cro-Mags release.
After The Age of Quarrel, the band released the record, Best Wishes (1989). The record had a more heavy metal-influenced sound which alienated many of their original fans.
The band released another record Alpha Omega (1992), that saw the return of Joseph, and the departure of guitarist and songwriter Parris Mitchell Mayhew, a record that was only embraced by the most devoted of their fanbase, and followed by Near Death Experience (1993).
After suffering from many lineup changes and frequent breakups, the group finally disbanded, seemingly for the last time, after this record. However, in 2000 they released a record again..
With Revenge the Cro-Mags came back to their early hardcore roots with songs that were comparable to their first release plus some songs with a more melodic/punk rock feel. After the release of Revenge the band broke up once again.
In 2008 John Joseph started playing shows, including one at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, using the name Cro-Mags (jam). The band included drummer Mackie Jayson, Craig Setari of Sick of It All on bass, and AJ of Leeway on guitar.
At various times in the 90s and 00s both Harley and John Joseph simultaneously led 2 separate versions of the Cro-Mags with completely different line-ups.
These groups billed themselves as "Cro-Mag Jam", "Cro-Mags-NYC", "Age of Quarrel" or "Cro-Mags" (whether or not the name was owned legally by the certain version of the band in question).
Sometimes only one original member would be present, sometimes two or three, and sometimes even both John Joseph and Harley together.