“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is a sentiment that is constantly lost on a lot of bands. The never-ending pursuit of the perfect sound is a plague that has made and broken a great many fantastic acts over the years. Depending on your view, musicians seem to be perpetually living in fear of growing dull or boring. Then you’ve got fucking Madball, a legendary heavyweight out of the hardcore scene releasing their ninth full-length record, For The Cause. What did they change this time around, you might ask? Abso-fucking-lutely nothing.
Diving right in, “Smile Now Pay Later” cracks open For the Cause, making it abundantly clear that we’re climbing into a the same car, just with some new esthetics. This album brings all the classic tones, engineering value, and cerebral response that the band has been known for their entire career, with only one key difference. This release marks the first since the departure of former guitarist Brian “Mitts” Daniels, and their first effort without him since 2002. The band obviously hasn’t lost any flavour in the slightest, but at very fleeting moments, one can notice a little bit of emptiness that was once filled with his personality. This isn’t to say he’s missed, necessarily, but if you have to dissect a fucking piece like I have to, you might notice it.
That being said, we might be down a guitar contributor, but make no mistake: frontman and sole remaining original member Freddy Cricien pulls no punches in his performance, thus completely erasing any doubt as to the continued livelihood of the band. The heart and loins of this record are entirely based on the vibe of absolute positivity and perseverance, all fronted by Cricien’s voice and lyrical value. Bangers like “Rev Up” (with an 80s throwback vibe and a funky chorus that’s almost worthy of giggling while you fuck with the establishment) and “Evil Ways” (featuring the mighty mother fucking Ice-T of the equally mighty Body Count) are easily going to find their way in the classics list of the hardcore history books. This is the real point of this record in the end: simply extending the setlist with new bangers sporting old and reliable kicks with which to stomp your ass.
Short and sweet is the mantra of hardcore and For The Cause is absolutely no different, but hits a motherfucker like a billy club, hard enough that you forgot you already heard it and have to go for another ride. The record is big, it’s groovy, and it’s aggressive. It’s absolutely everything that these New York City veterans have been slinging since 1988 despite the laundry list of member changes, so don’t pick up the album thinking I’m going to pull a fast one on ya. Madball is Madball is Madball and that is exactly the way we like it.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Kate Erickson