Published Jun 12, 2018Madball are prolific, and their name alone draws synonymous imagery of the group's burning "Ball of Destruction" mascot, "Hardcore Lives" merchandise and iconic album art for their 1994 breakthrough Set It Off. The New York hardcore superiors have proven their consistency and by-numbers influence on younger acts time and again, so one might expect 2018's nostalgic intake of pop culture to result in a serving of threatening and fascinating hardcore.
For the Cause is very frank in its initial objective; welcoming listeners to "the house of Madball" before the record breaks the five minute mark. In actuality, that statement seems vapid. While Madball are certainly still a hardcore band, their latest release features co-production from Tim Armstrong, who appears on the eerily Rancid-esque "The Fog," and certainly seems to act as an influencer to the group's embrace of Bay Area punk rock and thrash.
Madball's sonic road trip to California is not sturdy. When the shift works, it comes across as a matured dose of Leeway, best heard on "Rev Up" and "Lone Wolf." When it fails (see: "For You") it sounds like a Suicidal Tendencies cover act at a cheap dive bar. "Smile Now, Pay Later" is one of the more redeeming instrumental productions, but it's admittedly challenging to ignore how battered Freddy Cricien sounds throughout several tracks on For the Cause.
Lest we forget some of his cheesy rhyming schemes, but anyone familiar with Madball's history knows that there are no sweeping, interpretive metaphors allowed in NYHC. Whether you like it or not, Cricien has lived the truth that he sings.
Those looking for any insignia of '90s Madball will find relief in the urban-tinged "Damaged Goods" and "Evil Ways," which features a cameo from TV cop/Body Count vocalist Ice T. It serves as a period piece for a young Madball fan that is just discovering early works of the two groups.
The choice bits of For the Cause are only a small sliver of what could have been Madball's second coming, which for now serves as another brick in the walls of New York's five boroughs. (Nuclear Blast)