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Madball Empire

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Madball - Empire
01. Invigorate
02. Timeless
03. Danger Zone
04. All or Nothing
05. Glory Years
06. Empire
07. Shatterproof
08. The End
09. Con Fuerza
10. R.A.H.C.
11. Hurt You
12. Tough Guy
13. Dark Horse
14. Spider's Web
15. Delete
16. Rebel4life18
Reviewed by: Joshua   //   Published: 12/14/2010

It's official: Madball are the AC/DC of NYHC.

Since Freddy Cricien and crew began as on offshoot of Agnostic Front in the late '80s, they have carved their own path through the rough and tumble streets on NYC. Their early releases, Set It Off and Demonstrating My Style helped give the hardcore scene a new identity during the '90s. Whether or not this identity was a positive one is up for debate, but the facts can't be denied.

Since then, they have released some true gems, 2004's NYHC EP, and dropped some bombs, 1998's Look My Way. But one thing has remained constant; their ability to release groove-laden heavy hardcore, mixed with bursts of old school speed, backed by themes of family values, urban violence, and societal ills, all performed with Freddy's sense of hip-hop flavor.

Their last release, 2007's Infiltrate the System was the biggest departure for Madball. Employing a heavier Merauder-style sound and slipping in some single note riffing, they breathed a new air into a group that was teetering on redundancy. On Empire've they reverted back to the palm-muted progressions they are best known for. But that doesn't mean that they don't experiment.

Freddy actually dabbles in vocal melody, albeit in only two words (the refrain for "The End"). They also add a touch of humor on "R.A.H.C." when they skewer the makers of the "American Hardcore" movie by stating "We kept this thing alive you fucking assholes." Plus, Paul Bearer's angry voicemail on "Hurt You" is priceless. The laughs keep the mood light. Madball is known for being tuff, but they also know how to have fun.

It's a credit to bassist Hoya Roc and guitarist Mitts that they can keep coming up with songs that sound, at once, like Madball. The danceability of the jams is constant, and makes it impossible not to nod along, but you've heard some of these songs before. "All for Nothing" sounds just like "Times are Changing." On "Shatterproof," the inevitable Roger Miret cameo throws a wrench in the churning gears. Miret deserves much respect, but his vocal stylings are a jarring juxtaposition to Freddy's and it flat out doesn't fit the otherwise killer cut. We know Madball is proud of their Latino roots and all, but are TWO songs entirely in Spanish really necessary? In fact, there are too many tunes in English. Sixteen tracks of similar sounding selections don't quite keep the interest.

Bottom Line: If you have heard ANY of the aforementioned albums, then you've already heard Empire. If you are one of those people that bitch and moan when a band changes their signature sound, even slightly, rest assured. But Madball throws in enough curveballs to make it worth a close listen. Like AC/DC, you know what you're getting with Madball, but that doesn't mean that it's bad.

Comments
anonymous   posted 11/14/2012 9:34:26 PM
"Madball sucks" have some f*cking respect for a real hardcore band.
DJ_   posted 2/16/2011 2:52:02 PM
Madball will always keep it true to the streets. its not their best record, but still good nonetheless
PIOT_   posted 2/9/2011 9:36:53 PM
MADBALL is hardcore in NY, period......
PAULY_d_   posted 12/29/2010 3:19:46 AM
I cannot believe the ridiculous grammar war that is on going. f*ck you, and your couch. Cd owns, hands down. f*ck haters.
anonymous   posted 12/23/2010 11:18:58 AM
you guys are both gay for breaking down the grammar of a review on a hardcore record. Stay tuff, and dumb. Madball sucks.

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