Very few people can say they were born into any particular music scene, especially the Hardcore scene. It seems to be more a rite of passage than a birth right. Like all things in life however, there is of course an exception to the rule – Freddy Cricien. At just 8 years old Freddy could occasionally be seen performing lead vocals on the infamous and well documented New York Hardcore scene. Agnostic Front are up there as one of the most influential hardcore bands period, let alone the New York Hardcore scene where they have been flying the flag for almost 40 years. With Vinnie Stigma on guitar and Freddy’s brother Roger Miret on bass duties for the first decade of their career, Madball was initially viewed as a side project for Agnostic Front - so it’s fair to say, Freddy and Madball have Hardcore in their veins. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the bands existence and this will be their 9th studio album.
The album begins exactly as it means to continue. On ‘Smile Now Pay Later’ the drums kick in straight away with the guitars building up throughout the intro and Freddy’s scream coming in like a plane about to land. You can almost see the crowd clambering up onto the stage to scream along the words when these songs are played live. The energy levels never really seem to dip on this record at all. ‘Rev Up’ is short and sweet, exhibiting everything we have come to love from the NYHC giants. ‘Freight Train’ seems more like a statement of intent, they’re a force to be reckoned with and there is absolutely no point trying to get in their way or stop them. There’s a great guest appearance from Ice T which is really apt following the success of the latest Body Count record, even if it does contain an unbearably cheesy nod to Slayer when he shouts “Hell awaits!” during ‘Evil Ways’. There’s also a spot from American Punk legend Tim Armstrong and ‘Es Tu Vida’ is, unsurprisingly, in Spanish which keeps things fairly fresh until the end of the album which features a ‘secret track’ of a reggae version of ‘Rev Up’.
Clocking in at just over half an hour the album is straight to the point with no messing around. Throughout the album, the tempo and grooves fluctuate and Freddy’s vocals get so easily embedded in your head you will definitely end up singing along. This album is by no means groundbreaking and, unless you’re a die-hard Madball fan, it’s really nothing to write home about. However, that being said, I wouldn’t expect any less. Why bother trying to reinvent the wheel? Madball have paved their way for 30 years playing uncompromising, not-to-be-fucked-with Hardcore, creating their own trademark sound. It would have been nice if they had included the single version of ‘Rev Up’ on the album which features the reggae version before and after the song, just for a change of pace but, again, this is Madball. They know their strengths and stick to their guns and, well, if you don’t like it - don’t be on the tracks when you hear the train coming!
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