Hardcore/thrash crossover quartet Madball were founded in 1988 as an Agnostic Front side project that featured most of Agnostic Front's members as well as Freddy Cricien, Roger Miret's younger half-brother on vocals.
Now, twenty six years later, with Freddy as the only remaining original member and the band interestingly on their ninth drummer to date, this latest release 'Hardcore Lives' is as fresh and exciting as their first release, 1989s EP 'Ball Of Destruction'.
Full length studio album number eight, 'Hardcore Lives', is fifteen chunks of in your face, exciting and adventurous hardcore, each track with a message, story or meaning.
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Opening with the intense 'Intro' which gets the blood pumping and the heart racing and says "Madball are in the building". This flows beautifully into 'HC Lives', a coming of age song about the struggles and rebellious spirit of Hardcore kids and for me has a definite nod in the direction of 'Sick Of It All'.
'The Balance' is up tempo with an infectious rhythm but beneath that is a heart wrenching tale of balancing your time between the love of your family and the passion for your job that you love almost as much.
'Doc Marten Stomp' leans slightly more towards punk in its sound and is dedicated to the 'DMS crew' and 'Black and Blue' supporters everywhere. 'DNA' discusses connections that go beyond family bonds.
'Here And Now' is about living for the moment and seizing every opportunity and the drop in the tempo for the chorus has a big impact on the message contained in the track. 'Nothing To Me', has a slower tempo and I loved the higher profile drum work on the track which had a strong, deliberate rhythm.
Freddy's wife and son feature in 'Beacon Of Light', they are his beacons and keep him grounded and focused. Short, sharp and to the point, 'Spirit' is about overcoming inner demons, one of the inspiring tracks of the album for me. Living by your word and the ever developing fickle nature of people, is the subject covered on 'Mi Palabra' another standout track for me for the superb bass lines and the Spanish lyrics which add interest.
The shortest track at just twenty seven seconds is 'NBNC', yet there is so much happening in that short time frame, compact and intense. Anxiety disorder is a terrible condition and 'The Beast' is dedicated to anyone who suffers from it. 'For The Judged' tells you to be who you are without shame or fear and puts the ignorant who judge to shame.
There are also a few tracks which have guest vocalists adding more interest to the release, 'True School' feat. Scott Vogel (Terror), 'My Armor' feat. Toby Morse (H2O) and 'Born Strong' feat. Candace Puopolo (Walls Of Jericho), an appropriate track for Candace to guest on, given her other talent is power lifting although the track is about all types of strength, not just physical.
'Hardcore Lives' is a hugely powerful album of hardcore gems, well crafted and equally well delivered, full of passion and powerful messages, an insight into the thoughts and mind of Freddy Cricien.
I have to be honest, I have a soft spot for these guys, I have always found their work an exciting and uplifting listen and this release is no different, if fact it just gets better and better.