Madball – “Hardcore Lives” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Formed originally in the 80s as a side project of Agnostic Front, the mantle was inherited by Roger Miret’s half brother Freddy Cricien, who was 12 at the time he first screamed ‘hardcore lives!!’ on their “Ball Of Destruction” EP in 1989. Since then Madball have continued the NYHC legacy in their seven prior releases, as well as numerous tours that define ‘hardcore’ both as a musical genre but more importantly, a lifestyle defined by defiance, integrity and ultimately, respect. Now well into his 30s along with longtime comrade ‘Uncle’ Hoya Roc, Freddy’s maturity is impressively reflected in this 8th album that steadfastly holds onto his roots forged in sweat houses like CBGBs yet also draws in the new blood from different hardcore eras featuring guests like longtime buddy Toby Morse back from their Hazen Street days to 90s bands like Walls Of Jericho’s Candace Puopolo and this century’s acts like Terror’s Scott Vogel. Madball bring ’em all together like no one else can on 15 fist banging tracks like the never say die ‘Born Strong’ where Freddy and Candace’s dual vocal attack is enough to wake even the dead, to the steam chugging ‘Spirit’ and hispanic core of ‘Mi Palabra’. Big respect must go to Mitts whose searing metal core riffs are a cornerstone of Madball’s strength unflinchingly backed by the fierce rhythm of Hoya’s bass and new drummer Mike Justian (ex Unearth). More than that this veteran crew have constructed one of the standout hardcore albums this year, allowing their experience to create loads of meaty hooks, rhyming grooves and street attitude slang in the material all faithfully stamped by hardcore trademarks like crowd shout outs, stomping beats and of course, heaps of irrepressible, naked aggression. This is hardcore. This is Madball. Esta es mi familia.