NYC hardcore icons return
Madball are innovators of the New York hardcore scene and hardcore punk as a whole. If MF DOOM is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, then you could probably say the same thing about your favorite hardcore band and Madball. Without their blend of metal and hardcore punk that can come off as funky, the Title Fights, Turnstiles and Code Oranges of this decade aren’t as prominent in today’s mainstream indie music spotlight.
Starting from the momentum of Agnostic Front, Madball was created to have Freddy Cricien take the helm of vocalist. Approaching 30 years as a band, they have released iconic hardcore albums like Set It Off with their hit title track. The group is now on their ninth studio LP, For the Cause.
The album starts with “Smile Now Pay Later,” a statement that isn’t necessarily tough but the song certainly counters the potential happiness invoked by the title. The song is thrashing and loud, setting the tone for the rest of the album. It certainly evokes more of the hardcore side of Madball than the punk end.
“Rev Up” begins with Cricien’s best Zach De La Rocha impression, with a politically charged spoken word, but then transitions right into a typical hardcore song. The drums from Mike Justian are the highlight of this track. They constantly bring a heavy atmosphere, yet a solid rhythm to the song.
“Evil Ways” is featuring the infamous Body Count singer and gangster rapper Ice-T. His short verse is unique and it’s hard to even recognize Ice-T’s voice, but his backing vocals at certain times are the intimidating Body Count content that people know and love. He takes a very confrontational approach to his lyrics, which is seen on this track.
Certain songs tend to blend together, but little features, like the gang vocals on “For You,” make for tiny distinguishing factors. This track seems to be an ode to their fans, proclaiming that “we must carry on for you,” maybe stating a tired feel, but an obligation towards the genre and their fans. Either way, Madball will carry on.
This release shows the worst and the best of Madball. Their in your face, confrontational attitude is put on full display, whether that is a positive or negative. But without that, this simply would not be Madball.