Madball – “For The Cause” (Nuclear Blast)
NYHC. You heard it all throughout the 80s and early 90s. Made (in)famous by legendary bands like Agnostic Front, Cro Mags, Biohazard and Sick Of It All, the New York Hardcore scene has been inspirational the world over in spawning even more bands in support of their cause. Somewhat eclipsed at least from a mainstream perspective has been Madball, a band consisting of Agnostic Front members, including Roger Miret, half brother to the then 12 year old Freddy Cricien, who would ultimately inherit the vocal mantle and ever since be the heart and soul of Madball. Staunchly supported by bassist Jorge ‘Hoya Roc’ Guerra, the two would form a 25 year bond that would take them to this 9th album. While other bands came and went, got bigger or imploded, Madball has been a constant especially in the underground and always active on the live front, thus steadily increasing their fan base. Equally, their music has been uncompromising, staying true to the roots and formula of the street scene that they grew up in, with little regard for selling out. That they have garnered so much respect has not gone unnoticed on “For The Cause”, which has been produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, who also guests on one of the tracks. Even grander is Ice T, who see’s his collusion as a natural similarity to his own band, Body Count. Along with hip hop Psycho Realm’s Sick Jacken and Steve Whale of The Business, it’s pretty impressive just how many people Madball have drawn to this album. And maybe that’s cos it’s just what it is – street music played by street people fiercely holding street values! That said, the material here is mightily impressive both musically and lyrically, showing Madball have come a long way, intelligently melding elements of hip hop, punk pop, metal and even reggae in places to raise an eyebrow here n there, but without causing an undue sweat. It all makes for 13 charged but catchy songs, played as you can imagine with conviction, and featuring the regarded talents of original guitarist Matt Henderson, who replaced long time Brian Daniels. If hardcore is a way of life then this album defines it in every aspect while embracing natural diversity through the punk pop of ‘The Fog’ (featuring Armstrong) or the grinding Spanish hardcore of ‘Es Tu Vida’ and the galloping rap metalcore of ‘Damaged Goods’ – along with reggae flirtations on ‘Rev Up’ and even a sung out rocker on ‘For You’. However, when it comes to the biz, then get ready for the hammering ‘Lone Wolf’ with its catchy but core-to-the-bone riff and massively addictive shouted out chorus. Ice T lays it on fiercely along with Freddy on ‘Evil Ways’ with its machine gun riffing that really sends the energy levels up before a huge groove heralds the inevitable street verbose rap – word! For oldsters like me then the fiery ‘Old Fashioned’ with its dirty guitar and the hard hitting socially conscious lyrics make for one motivational anthem to inspire pride, confidence and self respect to anyone prepared to listen. A hugely impressive album by all counts, “For The Cause” will not just retain longtime Madball fans but draw others to their cause. NYHC. Don’t ya forget it!