Arguably, hard rock music of the later years has been lacking something, the conviction and force that make many fans believe that the years between nineteen seventy and the year two thousand are the golden age of the genre. As we enter the new phase of free for all online streaming and obscure underground gig culture, music’s most expansive genre requires a new edge to keep it unique, to give people something different whilst still revolving around the modern day tropes that everyone has become so accustomed too.
You would be forgiven then, for thinking that New York’s Madball where fresh new exports to the rock scene, as their latest album “For The Cause” is filled with the same metallic crunches and jarring instrumentals that have dominated the scene recently. The truth is the band is an incarnation of former Agnostic Front members, something that makes this project truly special, and which brings opening track “You Can Smile Now” that extra head nod of appreciation for a band that’s had as much impact on underground music as David Bowie has had on popular culture.
“REV UP!” is typical hardcode madness, although stands firmly as filler on the album, the lyrics representing the current political turmoil which is occurring throughout modern America and fit into the foreground of the song like white on rice. Fourth cut “Tempest” adds the extra crust punk vibes that are sure to keep fans happy; it provides a running commentary on Morality and with lead singer Freddy Cricien maintaining the urgency throughout the song, a real highlight.
A moment of silence now, as we welcome the polite wordsmith Ice T into the party for the punishing “Evil Ways”, standing in at barely under 2 minutes, one of the highlights of the album by far, Ice and Freddy make a poetic foray into the shocking treatment of today’s urban youth, with the instrumentals barely holding through the 1 minute 46, it’s still an admirable (if slightly funny) testament to middle aged men trying to sound mad as they can.
The album continues to bring the punk in extremely short snippets, providing the listener with a smooth listening that doesn’t drag and that’s what makes the second half of the album the stronger half. Move into “For You” and “Estuvida” with the latter being clearly the heaviest, and strongest track, the song strays from the more free flowing vibes into full blown Hardcore, while Freddy sings the song’s lyrics entirely in another language, and provides a nice final blow before a slightly lacklustre Promotional single “For The Cause” a song which will only please the most loyal fans. Regardless of its lack of ambiguity, it adds the sharpest turn you could think – providing a smooth reggae outro with the most hypnotic singing, making the albums final track “Confessions” a neat little wrap, in just over a minute “Confessions” is a typical crunchy anthem, giving some weight lifting meathead a nice high to end the album on.
Coming in at 30 years of a career in music, Madball remain the same as ever, bringing the carnage with food for your thoughts, it will surely satisfy many a fan, although for those not familiar with the genre, “For The Cause” is a great start to a long and fruitful journey.