New York Hardcore legends, Madball are back and bringing another 13 rounds of face-pummeling power with their upcoming album, ‘For the Cause,’ – scheduled for release June 15th, 2018 on Nuclear Blast Records. The new record features appearances from such notable names as Sick Jacken (Psycho Realm) on the track “Rev Up;” Steve Whale (The Business) and producer/vocalist Tim Armstrong (Rancid) on “The Fog;” and the legendary rapper and Body Count frontman, Ice-T on the track, “Evil Ways.” From violent aggression to anthemic, fist-pumping groove, this record delivers on all fronts – Or as bassist, Hoya Roc states, “It feels like the movie Pulp Fiction. We’ve got every style of hardcore in there.”
Madball personnel on ‘For the Cause’ consists of Freddy Cricien (vocals), Hoya Roc (bass), Mike Justian (drums) and returning guitarist Matt Henderson, who last appeared on the band’s 2000 album ‘Hold it Down.’ As a band, 25-years into their career and set to release their ninth studio album, they’ve managed to not only maintain the same level of intensity fans have come to expect, but this time focus more concisely on their lyrical cause. Cricien explains, “If you’re not fighting for a cause, you’re not participating in life. Simple as that. Speak up, fight, educate yourself, make a difference and make sacrifices for what’s important to you.”
Production duties on ‘For the Cause’ were handled by Tim Armstrong, and mixed by Danish studio veteran, Tue Madsen (Meshuggah, Dark Tranquility, Sick of it All). Of Armstrong’s role with the production, Cricien says, “Tim has always respected our band and how we do what we do. He knew we had a vision for how this album should sound, so he let us do our thing, but was there every step supporting and cheering us on.”
The first track “Smile Now Pay Later,” opens the album with authority. With its ominous, groove-laden riffing and primal rhythms, this track sets the stage fittingly for a sonic, street-level brawl. The bassline is beefy and vocally, Cricien’s mid-range bark commands attention, contributing effectively to the distinctly NYHC sound.
“Freight Train” opts for a more rock n’ roll approach. The upbeat punk riffing, paired with the take-no-shit, rebellious “Hey you, get out of our way!” lyricism makes this one an appropriately catchy and sing-along-friendly protest anthem.
On one of the album’s stronger tracks, “Evil Ways,” Ice-T shows up to kick the violence level up several notches. Vicious thrash riffage and relentless drumming provide the backdrop for impressive lyrical performances from both Cricien and Ice-T, along with powerful gang vocals sprinkled in sparingly for extra punch.
“The Fog feat Tim Timebomb” is a straight up punk rock riot-starter that’s sure to get the adrenaline flowing. Armstrong’s guest vocal performance is powerful with his iconic raspy and rowdy delivery taking the track to a familiar yet refreshingly different dimension.
“Es Tu Vida” or “it’s your life” in English, is a Spanish language, thrash metal, headbanger of a track – and my personal favorite. Sounding reminiscent of groovier moments of Sepultura or Soulfly, the riffs are pure menacing aggression. The transitions from one section to the next are executed perfectly, maintaining the dynamic intensity throughout the track. Vocally, Cricien conjures up his inner demons for a little extra stank on his delivery for maximum heaviness.
Overall, ‘For the Cause’ is a concise, but surprisingly diverse 35 minutes of aggression, rebellion, and adrenaline that delivers familiarity as well as a breath of fresh air to a distinctly NYHC sound. From one track to the next, Madball gets you either pumped up or pissed off, and injects ample amounts of catchiness and memorable hooks that will leave you humming about the cause well after pressing the stop button.